As bagpipes played ‘Sleep, Dearie, Sleep,’ a nation bids farewell to Queen Elizabeth
An entire nation paused to take the Long Walk on Monday — either in person, to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s final return to Windsor Castle, or in spirit, watching a tradition-steeped farewell that spanned from central London to the late queen’s main home.
Well-wishers gathered at barricades along the Long Walk, the famously rail-straight, tree-lined road that runs more than 2 1/2 miles up to Windsor Castle. By the time the glass-paneled Jaguar hearse reached its destination, its hood was decorated with roses, sunflowers and other blooms that people had tossed along the route.
When the procession entered the castle, it brought an end to a journey that began with Queen Elizabeth II’s death at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Sept. 8. Since then, the queen has lain at rest and in state, and the new sovereign, King Charles, has ascended to the throne.
The committal service was private, but streamed online
The committal service at St. George’s Chapel Monday afternoon was kept private, reserved for the royal family and a small group that included leaders from around the commonwealth. As with other events Monday, it was streamed online.
After the service, Elizabeth’s coffin was to be lowered into the royal vault alongside her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year, according to the order of service.
Several ceremonial necessities also took place: The imperial state crown, orb and scepter that sat atop the coffin were removed. And the lord chamberlain — a post appointed by the monarch — “broke” his wand of office (it’s a sectional piece of wood) and placed it atop the coffin.
Elizabeth’s coffin was then lowered through the central floor of the chapel, as a piper played once again.
Royals and dignitaries attended the state funeral
The state funeral drew President Biden and other world leaders to Westminster Abbey, where King Charles and Elizabeth’s other descendants somberly walked behind the monarch’s coffin into and out of the massive church.
Prince Harry, duke of Sussex, and Meghan, duchess of Sussex, sat in the second row, directly behind King Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, with Elizabeth’s coffin directly before them.
Prince William, the prince of Wales, sat in the front row across the aisle alongside Catherine, the princess of Wales, and Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince George, 9. Charlotte wore a horseshoe brooch that is reportedly an homage to her great-grandmother’s fondness for horses.
U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss read a passage from the Bible, less than two weeks after the queen made Truss’s new position official.
The ornate service ended on a simple note, as the Queen’s Piper, Warrant Officer Class 1 (Pipe Major) Paul Burns, played a traditional song on the bagpipe: “Sleep, dearie, sleep.”
The nation observed two minutes of silence to mark the end of the service, beginning at 11:55 a.m. local time — 6:55 a.m. ET.
The procession brought pomp and circumstance to the streets
Elizabeth’s coffin was carried through London in a massive formal procession on foot, crossing near Big Ben as it tolled. The group was led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and comprised several military detachments — including a phalanx of Royal Navy sailors who pulled a gun carriage bearing the coffin.
For more than an hour, the journey took slow, deliberate steps before reaching Wellington Arch. From there, the coffin was transferred to the hearse, which began its trip west toward Windsor Castle on the far side of the Thames River.
In contrast to the ornate military formality of the first phase of the procession, throngs of people who were gathered along the route sometimes cheered for the queen, tossing flowers toward the hearse as it passed.
Those waiting to greet the queen’s coffin included her corgis, Muick and Sandy, who were spotted as they were taken outside for a walk at the castle.