Farewell, Her Majesty

WELLINGTON Arch is shown in London on Monday, prior to the procession to be held after the State Funeral Service of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. Leaders from around the world attended the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died at 96 after 70 years on the throne, was honored with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey.

5 days ago

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest on Monday, after a state funeral attended by leaders from around the world and a historic last ceremonial journey through the packed streets of London.

After queueing all night, the final members of the public filed through parliament’s cavernous Westminster Hall to see the queen’s coffin lying in state before the doors closed at 6:30 a.m. (0530 GMT).

Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the Royal Air Force who joined the marathon queue twice, was the last person through the doors and described the experience as “amazing.”

“When they came to me and said, ‘right, you’re the last person,’ I said, really?!” she told AFP, before heading off to join the crowds for the coffin’s procession through central London.

“A long day but very well worth it. It’s nothing compared to what the queen has done for the country.”

The longest-serving monarch in British history died aged 96 at Balmoral, her Scottish Highland retreat, on 8 September after a year of declining health.

She was succeeded by her 73-year-old eldest son, King Charles III, who late Sunday said he and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, had been “deeply touched” by the public’s flood of messages.

“As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you,” he said.

‘She was my boss’
Britain last held a state funeral in 1965 for the country’s wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.

Then, the cranes that once unloaded the spoils of Britain’s vast empire that Elizabeth inherited were lowered in respect as his coffin was borne up the River Thames by barge.

In the six decades since, Britain’s global reach has been much diminished and its place in the modern world has become less certain.

But the country will still dig deep into its centuries of tradition to honor the only monarch that most Britons have ever known.

Many people have camped out for days to witness the elaborate spectacle of pageantry and to pay their final respects.

Royal Navy sailors will haul the flag-draped coffin, topped with the majestic Imperial State Crown, on a gun carriage from Westminster Hall to the adjacent abbey.

The funeral starts at 1000 GMT. After just under an hour, a bugler will play The Last Post, before two minutes of silence and the reworded national anthem, “God Save the King.”

Biden’s tribute
Former Archbishop of York John Sentamu said the queen, who headed the Protestant Church of England founded by king Henry VIII in the 16th century, did not want a “boring” send-off.

“You’re going to be lifted to glory as you hear the service,” he told BBC television.

Afterwards, the coffin will be taken west by road to Windsor Castle, with many thousands expected to line the route.

She will be buried alongside her father king George VI, her mother queen Elizabeth the queen mother and sister princess Margaret, reuniting in death the family who once called themselves “us four.”

The coffin of her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99, will also be transferred to lie alongside her.

Elizabeth’s funeral could not be more different from Philip’s at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, in April last year.

Coronavirus restrictions limited mourners to just 30, led by the queen, a solitary figure in mourning black and a matching mask.

But now, more than 2,000 people, including heads of state from US President Joe Biden to Japan’s reclusive Emperor Naruhito, will pack Westminster Abbey, the imposing location for royal coronations, marriages and funerals for more than 1,000 years.

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