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UK mourns Elizabeth II at funeral to be viewed across the world

UK mourns Elizabeth II at funeral to be viewed across the world
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is transferred by the royal hearse, after leaving the The RAF aircraft, a C-17 globemaster from 99 squadron after landing at RAF Northolt, west London, to Buckingham Palace, London to lie at rest overnight in the Bow Room, on September 13, 2022 in Uxbridge, England. (Photo by Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Global leaders and dignitaries from US President Joe Biden to Emperor Naruhito of Japan come together in London on Monday for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch.

The ceremony begins at 11am in Westminster Abbey following a short procession to move her coffin from Parliament, where she has been lying-in-state for four days. Hundreds of thousands of people queued for miles to pay their final respects.

Though the period of mourning continues for King Charles III and the royal family, for ordinary Britons watching at home or on large screens set up around the country the funeral marks the culmination of days of pomp and pageantry since the queen died 8 September at her residence in Scotland.  

Her passing brought politics to an abrupt halt just hours after new Prime Minister Liz Truss had announced a sweeping package to help people facing a cost-of-living crisis that is likely to define her premiership.

More fundamentally, the end of a reign dating from 1952 – before more than 85% of the country was born – was a major jolt in a period of great uncertainty. The UK is still struggling with the fallout of the pandemic and Brexit, which has bolstered calls for independence in Scotland.

On Monday, though, such questions will be put temporarily aside. More than 2,000 official guests, from heads of state to representatives of causes the queen supported will be present, alongside members of the public who made contributions to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Global presence

There will be European royalty present, while the presidents of France, Germany, Italy, Brazil and Israel have confirmed they will attend. The US president and First Lady Jill Biden paid their respects at Westminster Hall on Sunday before signing condolence books at a state mansion near Buckingham Palace and attending a reception hosted by the king.  

A National Moment of Reflection took place across the UK on Sunday, with Big Ben tolling once at 8pm to mark the start of the one-minute silence.

The service is expected to last an hour, led by the Dean of Westminster David Hoyle, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivers the sermon. As well as her formal role as Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England which came with monarchy, the Queen’s personal faith has long been widely recognised.  

National event

It is an official public holiday in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Many businesses including supermarkets have said they will shut to allow workers to watch the funeral. More than 100 Heathrow Airport flights will be disrupted “to avoid noise” and to ensure London is quiet during a two-minute national silence as the funeral ends.

As the queen’s coffin is carried into the Abbey, the Sentences will be sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey. These lines of scripture set to music have been used at every state funeral since the early 18th century. The first Lesson will be read by Baroness Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. The second Lesson, read by the UK prime minister, will be followed by the hymn, “The Lord’s my Shepherd.”  The service will end with a recital of the “Last Post” and a lament played by the Queen’s personal piper. 

There will then be a procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch, with King Charles III leading royal family members behind the gun carriage. Big Ben will be tolled at one-minute intervals as the procession departs.

Elizabeth’s coffin will then be transferred to a hearse and travel by road to Windsor Castle. A committal service, attended by 800 people including some of the queen’s household staff and foreign dignitaries, will be held in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, when the crown will be removed.

At 7:30pm, her family will attend a private interment service where she will be placed next to her husband, Philip. Described by Elizabeth as her “strength and stay,” the Duke of Edinburgh died in April 2021, aged 99. 

No date has been set for the coronation of Charles, the eldest of Elizabeth’s four children, who became king automatically at his mother’s death. At 73, he is the oldest person to accede to the throne in British history. In a statement issued by Buckingham Palace on Sunday, the king said that he and his wife, the Queen Consort, had been “moved beyond measure’’ by the outpouring of mourning for the queen.

“As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my Family and myself in this time of grief,’’ he said. BM

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