In what is thought to have been the most watched broadcast of all time, with 4.1 billion worldwide viewers, on Monday 19 September the nation, and the world, said goodbye to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
After over four days lying-in-state in Westminster Hall and 250,000 visitors members of the public paying their respects, on the morning of the 19 September 2022, at 6:30am the last mourners made their way past the Queen’s coffin to pay their respects and the Hall, once again, fell silent. At precisely 10:44am the Queen’s coffin left the Hall to make its way to Westminster Abbey for her state funeral.
Her Majesty’s coffin, (still with the crown, orb, and sceptre on top, that have remained with her throughout her lying-in-state period) was carried from the hall by a specially selected group of soldiers from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards to the 123-year old Royal Navy State Gun Carriage, and pulled by 142 members of the Royal Navy.
With senior members of the Royal Family following behind, including His Majesty The King, the coffin was then taken in a special procession to Westminster Abbey, where world leaders (including the President of the United States and the First Lady, French President Emmanuel Macron, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan) sat alongside foreign royalty (including the kings and queens from Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and The Netherlands, and the Emperor and Empress of Japan, Malaysia’s King and Queen and King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan), members of the Royal Family, and cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister, and all surviving previous UK Prime Ministers.
During the service, church leaders from around the country highlighted the affection in which the Queen has been held by many people.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of how the Queen had declared on her 21st birthday “that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth”.
He added: “Rarely has such a promise been so well kept. Few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen.”
As the service came to its end, the Last Post was played – by the same musicians who performed it at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Windsor last year – before the nation came to a standstill for two minutes’ silence.
After the funeral, the Queen’s coffin was taken by gun carriage in a special military procession to Wellington Arch and then on to its final journey to Windsor Castle and a committal service.
The procession to Wellington Arch included four thousand military personnel from the UK and Commonwealth countries and was the most prominent ceremonial display by the UK armed forces since the death of George VI.
Throughout the route, many thousands of mourners lined up to make their own emotional farewell.
As the Queen’s coffin passed Buckingham Palace for the last time, staff stood outside to say their final goodbyes.
After reaching Wellington Arch, Her Majesty’s coffin was then carried to a hearse , and the funeral cortege then drove the 28 miles from London to Windsor where she would finally be laid to rest.
Thousands of people packed Windsor’s Long Walk as the Queen made her last journey to the castle, where she would be buried in St George’s Chapel, alongside her father, mother, sister and husband.
As the cortege made its way through the castle gates, the Queen’s two corgis, Muick and Sandy, made an appearance, while her beloved fell pony Emma stood to one side as she passed, and even appeared to curtsy. Two very touching tributes to a Queen who was well know for her fondness of animals, particularly dogs and horses.
Inside the Chapel, the Queen’s committal service then took place, this time with a much smaller congregation of family, friends and Her Majesty’s staff, past and present and prime ministers from the commonwealth countries.
As part of the committal service, the crown jeweller removed the the imperial state crown, the orb and sceptre from the coffin, symbolising the end of the Queen’s reign. This was a very poignant moment, as it reminded viewers both of the magnificence, the length and the success of her reign, and that she was also a human being just like any of us.
King Charles then placed on the coffin a small crimson regimental flag called the Camp Colour – traditionally used to indicate the location of the commanding officer.
The Lord Chamberlain, former MI5 chief Lord Parker, also “broke” his wand of office and placed it on the coffin. The snapping of the staff signals the end of his service to the sovereign as her most senior official in the Royal Household.
The coffin was then lowered into the royal vault, before the Sovereign’s Piper played a lament.
After this service, the Queen was finally laid to rest, together with the Duke of Edinburgh at a private family service in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, located inside St George’s Chapel.
As his family, and the congregation, and many at home around the nation, sang ‘God Save The King’, her son, King Charles III, looked on with tears in his eyes.
Though it was a solemn occasion, and for her family a day to say goodbye to a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, it was also a day filled with spectacle and a celebration of 96 years well lived.
For the nation, it was the chance to say a final goodbye and, most importantly, thank you, for a remarkable life of service.