‘Seun Ibukun-Oni –
Britain has held its first state funeral since 1965, bidding farewell to Queen Elizabeth II after 70 years on the throne. She was laid to rest alongside her husband, parents and younger sister.
At about 7:30 p.m. local time on Monday, the coffins of Elizabeth and her husband Philip, who died last year aged 99, were moved from the royal vault to be buried together in the chapel where the remains of her father, King George VI, mother, and younger sister, Princess Margaret, also rest.
This final service was a private one only for the Royal Family, at the end of a 12-day period of national mourning following Elizabeth’s passing.
The UK will return to work on Tuesday following a public holiday on Monday to coincide with the state funeral, the first in the UK since the death of Elizabeth’s first prime minister, Winston Churchill, in January, 1965.
DW’s veteran anchor Robin Merrill called the state funeral “an extraordinary day, the like of which I expect we’ll never see again, because I think Charles will pare down the monarchy a little bit.”
Merrill called it “the culmination of the last 10 days and indeed the last 70 years of this extraordinary woman, who had an unwavering duty to serve that we’ve never really seen the like of.”
Merrill said it had surprised many people, including himself, “how emotional I got about it, because she’s been the constant in my entire life. (…) There’s never been anybody else.”
“It’s going to be a hard act to follow,” he said, particularly given that the country is undergoing a change in monarch and prime minister virtually simultaneously.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, read out a benediction often used at the end of confirmation ceremonies starting, “Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no one evil for evil.”
One of the last hymns of the ceremony was then followed by the chorus of the British national anthem, revised in the past fortnight to “God Save the King.”
Coffin committed, bagpipes sound
Dean of Windsor David Connor said a short psalm as the coffin began to descend into the royal vault in the chapel’s floor.
Then David White, another member of the royal household, the Garter Principal King of Arms, read out her list of formal titles:
“Thus, it hath pleased almighty God to take out of this transitory life unto His divine mercy the late, most high, most mighty, and most excellent monarch Elizabeth II. By the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and all Northern Ireland, and of her other realms and territories, queen. Head of the Commonwealth, defender of the faith, and sovereign of the most noble order of the garter.”
The three instruments of state — the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and Scepter — were removed from the coffin in anticipation of the committal and placed on the high altar in the chapel.
The Imperial State Crown is traditionally worn by the monarch at the end of coronation ceremonies and at formal events like the state opening of Parliament. But in recent years, given its quite considerable weight, Elizabeth had elected not to place it on her head.
The Scepter is supposed to symbolize the monarch’s power and it has been used at every coronation for centuries.
The Orb, meanwhile, with a cross on it, is supposed to symbolize the power of God and remind the monarch where their power originates.
King Charles then placed the colors of the queen’s company, the Grenadier Guards, on the coffin. The queen’s Lord Chamberlain, the most senior official in her household and formerly MI5 spy chief Baron Parker, subsequently broke his Wand of Office and placed that atop the coffin along with the regiment’s colors.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss gave a scripture reading before a sermon from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
At 10:55 UTC two minutes of silence were then observed, followed by a rendition of God Save the King.
The queen’s lone piper then played the lament, “sleep dearie sleep.”
The queen’s coffin was carried by pallbearers from the Grenadier Guards to the waiting gun carriage of the Royal Navy.
Members of the royal family stood silently as the coffin was placed on the carriage with the procession then beginning through the streets of London.
The queen’s coffin is embarking on its final journey through London and onwards to Windsor Castle for a second, private service.