Britain holds state funeral for deceased monarch

1. Queen (3)
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin is transferred from a gun carriage to a waiting hearse at Wellington Arch in London on Monday, September 19, 2022. (Photo: NYTimes)

LONDON — Britain said farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday at a historic state funeral attended by world leaders, before a last ceremonial journey through London streets packed with sorrowful mourners.اضافة اعلان

Huge crowds gathered to watch as the queen’s coffin was carried slowly to a gun carriage from parliament’s Westminster Hall where it had lain in state since Wednesday.

To the tune of pipes and drums, the gun carriage — used at every state funeral since Queen Victoria’s in 1901 — was then drawn by 142 junior enlisted sailors in the Royal Navy to Westminster Abbey.

The thousand-year-old church’s tenor bell tolled 96 times at one-minute intervals — one for every year of her life — and stopped a minute before the service began at 11am.

In his funeral sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the queen’s life of duty and service to the UK and Commonwealth.

“People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer,” he told the 2,000 guests, who included US President Joe Biden and Japan’s Emperor Naruhito.

The coffin was then borne, to the rhythmic strains of funeral marches, towards the queen’s final resting place at Windsor Castle, west of London.

All along the route, a sea of arms were raised aloft, clutching mobile phones, to record the choreographed display of military precision.

The queen — the longest-serving monarch in British history — died at Balmoral, her Scottish Highland retreat, on September 8 after a year of declining health.

Her eldest son and successor, King Charles III, dressed in ceremonial military uniform, followed the solemn processions, alongside his three siblings.

Charles’ sons princes William and Harry, and other senior royals, accompanied them.

William’s two eldest children, George, 9, and Charlotte, 7, who are next in line to the throne, also followed behind the coffin in the abbey.

Britain, a country much changed since the queen’s coronation in the same abbey in 1953, has dug deep into its centuries of tradition to honor the only monarch that most of its people have ever known.

Those unable to be in London gathered in cinemas and churches around England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to watch the service and procession on big screens.

The funeral — watched by the crowds in silence — lasted just under an hour.

It was brought to an end by trumpeters playing “The Last Post”, two minutes of silence in memory of the queen and the reworded national anthem, “God Save the King”.

Driven to Windsor

The long procession filed past Downing Street, government buildings in Whitehall, through Horse Guards Parade and up The Mall, the tree-lined avenue that leads to Buckingham Palace decked out in red, white and blue.

At nearby Wellington Arch, 6,000 members of the armed forces who had marched in lockstep halted and the coffin was transferred to the royal hearse.

Charles saluted and the national anthem played again before the hearse headed west by road to Windsor Castle.

The queen will be buried alongside her father king George VI, her mother queen Elizabeth, and sister princess Margaret. The coffin of her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99, will also be transferred to lie alongside her.

From monarchies to republics?

In the abbey pews was Liz Truss, whom the queen appointed as the 15th British prime minister of her reign just two days before her death, in her last major ceremonial duty.

All of Truss’s living predecessors were there plus her counterparts and representatives from the 14 Commonwealth countries outside Britain where Charles is also head of state.

Whether they remain constitutional monarchies or become republics is likely to be the defining feature of Charles’s reign.

The queen’s death has prompted deep reflection about the Britain she reigned over, the legacy of its past, its present state, and what the future might hold, as well as the values of lifelong service and duty she came to represent during her 70-year reign.

Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have queued, sometimes for up to 25 hours and overnight, to file past the queen’s coffin as it lay in state.

Private internment

Throughout the procession after the funeral, Big Ben, the giant bell atop the Elizabeth Tower at one end of the Houses of Parliament, tolled and military guns fired at one-minute intervals.

At Windsor, the Sebastopol Bell — captured in Crimea in 1856 — and the Curfew Tower Bell also sounded.

A vast television audience was expected to watch the funeral worldwide and live online, in a sign of the enduring fascination with the woman once described as “the last global monarch”.

With Elizabeth seen as Britain’s final link between its imperial past, victory in World War II, and the modern era, many of those lining the streets said they had to bear witness.

At Windsor, the queen’s crown, orb and scepter will be removed and placed on the altar at a committal service.

The most senior officer of the royal household, the lord chamberlain, will break his “wand of office” and places it on the coffin, symbolizing the end of her reign.

The lead-lined oak casket, draped with the queen’s colors, will be lowered into the Royal Vault as a lone bagpiper plays a lament.

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