Grace, authority and sobriety characterised the final funeral rites of the longest serving British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as the world paid its last respects to her yesterday.
A state funeral held at Westminster Abbey in London kicked off the Queen’s final journey home, giving way for a committal service at the St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and interment in a private ceremony.
Thousands of mourners including world leaders, members of European royal families and key figures in public life thronged Britain to bid farewell to the Queen while billions followed proceedings virtually across the globe, in the historic event that marked the end of a seven-decade reign.
Earlier, pallbearers in the company of full military guards processed the Royal Family at exactly 11 a.m. BST, (9:44 am GMT) from the Westminster Hall where Queen Elizabeth II had laid in state for the past four days for filing past.
Draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown, the Sovereign orb and sceptre and a wreath of flowers, the Queen’s coffin was carried unto the gun carriage used for the funerals of her grandfather, George V, her father, George VI, Queen Victoria and Sir Winston Churchill, and ushered into the church for the commencement of the funeral rites.
Melodious yet sombre tunes from the mass choir welcomed her remains at the Westminster Abbey for a service that lasted close to an hour.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, eulogised the legacy of the monarch whose life,he said, exuded “faith and hope”.
“The pattern for many leaders is to be exalted in life and forgotten after death. The pattern for all who serve God – famous or obscure, respected or ignored – is that death is the door to glory and her Late Majesty famously declared that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the Nation and Commonwealth. Rarely has such a promise been so well kept,” he stated.
According to the Archbishop, the Queen’s dedicated service to the family, the Commonwealth and world at large was rooted in her strong allegiance to the Lord.
“In 1953 the Queen began her Coronation with silent prayer, just there at the High Altar. Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her.”
“People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered while those who cling to power and privileges are forgotten.”
The leader of the Anglican Church prayed for the peaceful repose of her late Majesty’s soul while offering prayers for the Royal family, the Commonwealth and the world at large.
“God Save the King” the revised anthem of Britain was sang to climax the ceremony as mourners stood and bowed their heads inrespect to the Queen prior to conveying her casket out of the Westminster Abbey.
At Windsor, where a similar service was held for the Queen, a crown jeweller removed the instruments of state – the imperial state crown, the orb and sceptre – from the coffin, placing it on the altar to mark the end of the Queen’s reign.
King Charles III, placed on the coffin a small crimson regimental flag called the “Camp Colour” –after which the coffin was lowered into royal vault amidst tunes of lamentation played by the Sovereign’s piper.
At around 7:00pm, the Monarch was laid to rest beside her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, who passed last year, aged 99.
Queen Elizabeth II died at age 96 on September 8, 2022 at her Scottish summer home, Balmoral Castle.
Having assumed the throne at 25 years and reigned for 70 years, her death has since elevated her eldest son, Charles, to the highest position as King Charles III.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH