A final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II
By PA reporters and Chronicle staff
The Queen was laid to rest following 70 years of service after family, friends and the nation said a fond farewell to the late monarch.
For the woman who was never meant to be sovereign, the Queen fulfilled her pledge to serve nation and Commonwealth and came to earn the respect of many – from world leaders to the public.
Her grieving family walked behind her coffin throughout the long day, a simple but public tribute, and the emotion was clear to see on the face of the King, who looked close to tears during the earlier Westminster Abbey state funeral service.
The royal family were united in their loss, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex briefly back with the family they left, but as the Queen’s son the Earl of Wessex said in tribute, in death, as in life, they were sharing their “beloved mama” with others.
Hundreds of thousands lined the Queen’s funeral procession that carried the monarch from lying in state at Westminster Hall to her state funeral and on to Windsor Castle for the committal service.
Her state hearse arrived at the royal fortress strewn with flowers after the sight of the Queen had been cheered and applauded by mourners along the route.
When the Queen was lying in state, a river of people flowed past her coffin, paying their respects over four days.
At the end there were touching moments, with the Queen’s fell pony Emma, held by her stud groom and manager, standing a few feet from the coffin as the procession entered the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Waiting in the royal residence’s quadrangle were her two corgis Muick and Sandy – gifts from her son the Duke of York – as the funeral procession passed.
The Queen was head of state but also a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and, in a personal touch, the wreath adorning her coffin had a handwritten note from the King.
The message said: “In loving and devoted memory. Charles R”.
Charles had requested the floral tribute, which replaced a wreath of Balmoral flowers, with foliage and blooms cut from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Highgrove.
Earlier in the day, in a sermon during the state funeral in Westminster Abbey, the Archbishop of Canterbury described the Queen as having touched “a multitude of lives” and being a “joyful” figure for many.
With the grieving royal family sitting nearby and thousands of mourners filling London’s streets, Justin Welby said the outpouring of emotion “arises from her abundant life and loving service, now gone from us”.
Mr Welby echoed the Queen’s reassuring words from her lockdown address to the nation, when he told the Westminster Abbey congregation that all who follow her example, and her faith in God, “can with her say: ‘We will meet again'”.
More than 2,000 world leaders, national figures from UK life, and leading individuals attended the Westminster Abbey funeral that saw the Prince and Princess of Wales bring their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte to experience the event.
King Charles III sat at the head of the family, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex nearby, after more than a week leading the monarchy and the nation in mourning his mother the Queen.
Mr Welby, standing in the church where kings and queens have been crowned since 1066, told the mourners: “People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer.”
“But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are forgotten.”
“The grief of this day – felt not only by the late Queen’s family but all round the nation, Commonwealth and world – arises from her abundant life and loving service, now gone from us.”
“She was joyful, present to so many, touching a multitude of lives.”
The Archbishop ended his sermon by telling the congregation: “We will all face the merciful judgment of God: we can all share the Queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership.
“Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen’s example, and inspiration of trust and faith in God, can with her say: “We will meet again.”
Among the mourners in the abbey were the Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
They were sitting among the heads of the Commonwealth nations and the Overseas Territories, about 10 rows directly behind King Charles III and other members of the Royal family.
"It was completely overwhelming," Sir David told GBC after the funeral.
"The silence in the abbey as the silence was brought in was quite extraordinary."
"You could've heard a pin drop."
"We were all in awe of what was going on at that moment."
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told GBC that the state funeral was "a remarkable moment" that had brought together representatives of all of the nations in the world to pay their respects to the Queen.
A'll were "entirely unified in one moment of respect for Her Majest Queen Elizabeth II," he said.
"Everyone was there to pay homage to a person who has given so much to the world and so much to the United Kingdom and to the Commonwealth."
"For the whole world to congregate as it has today is a demonstration...of the service that Her Majesty the Queen gave in life."