Sombre pageantry at funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth
LONDON: King Charles and other senior British royals followed Queen Elizabeth’s coffin into Westminster Abbey, joining world leaders and monarchs to bid farewell to a beloved figure who unified nation through her 70-year reign.
In scenes of inimitable pageantry, pall bearers carried her flag-draped casket along aisle in country’s first state funeral since 1965, when Winston Churchill was afforded honour. Tens of thousands of people lined streets as queen’s casket made short journey from Westminster Hall where she had been lying-in-state, pulled along on a gun carriage by 142 sailors with arms linked.
A bell tolled and bagpipes skirled. Pin-drop silence fell over London’s Hyde Park nearby as thousands of people, who for hours had picnicked and chatted, went quiet second queen’s coffin appeared on screens erected for occasion. Shortly before, hundreds of armed personnel in full ceremonial dress had marched past in a historic display of kilts, bearskin hats, scarlet tunics and bands in white gloves. Inside abbey, lines of scripture were set to music that has been used at every state funeral since early 18th century.
Among those walking behind casket was her great-grandson and future king, 9-year-old Prince George. The 2,000-strong congregation included some 500 world leaders and foreign royal families. Among them was US President Joe Biden, who paid tribute to a 96-year-old who earned respect for her sense of duty and represented a constant as Britain’s role in world diminished and changed.
Millions more will watch on television at home on a public holiday declared for occasion. Funeral of a British monarch has never been televised before. Along Mall, one of London’s grand ceremonial boulevards, crowd stood 15-20 people deep in places. Alistair Campbell Binnings (64) said he left his home in Norfolk at midnight to make his way to London. “This is a one-off. We would only be here for queen. We just felt we had to be here.
She was what we always needed in a time of crisis,” he said. Tenor bell of Abbey site of coronations, weddings and burials of English and then British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years was due to toll 96 times.
Published in The Daily National Courier, September, 20 2022