Queen Elizabeth’s one-hour-long state funeral, the first in Britain since the death of her first prime minister, Winston Churchill, in 1965, took place today at Westminster Abbey in London.
The funeral will end 11 days of national mourning in the United Kingdom, which has seen the royal family’s personal grief play out under the glare of intense international attention.
More than 2,000 people, including heads of state from US President Joe Biden to Japan’s reclusive Emperor Naruhito, packed Westminster Abbey, whose 1,000-year history spans from royal coronations, weddings and funerals.
A huge television audience is expected to watch the funeral around the world and live online, in a sign of an enduring fascination with the woman once described as “the last global monarch”.
The queen’s coffin was carried on the same gun carriage that was used for the funeral of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Huge crowds gathered in near-silence to watch the Queen’s flag-wrapped coffin, which was topped with the Imperial State Crown, its orb and scepter, moved slowly in a gun carriage from Westminster Hall of Parliament Gaya, where it has been lying in the state since last Wednesday.
The Queen’s eldest son and heir, King Charles III, dressed in ceremonial military uniform, followed the solemn procession, along with his three siblings.
After an hour-long procession passing through Buckingham Palace, the coffin will be taken by road to Windsor Castle, where thousands of people have been standing on the route since morning.
Some 6,000 military personnel are slated to take part in the proceedings, which Britain’s highest-ranking military officer has called “our last duty to Her Majesty the Queen”.
While leaders from the European Union, France, Japan, India and several other countries participated, those from Russia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria and North Korea were not invited.
Following the televised service, the Queen’s coffin will be moved by the royal corpse for a committed service at Windsor Castle, west of London. This will be followed by a family-only burial in which the Queen will be laid to rest with her late husband Prince Philip, her parents and her sister.
Queen Elizabeth ruled for 70 years and 214 days – the first British sovereign to celebrate a platinum jubilee. He died at the age of 96.
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