[EN DIRECT] Grand funeral for Queen Elizabeth II

A grandiose funeral, concluded by two minutes of silence: a United Kingdom embraced by emotion said goodbye with great pomp on Monday to Elizabeth II, devoted and “joyful” sovereign with planetary popularity, in the presence of hundreds of foreign dignitaries .

• Read also: A final farewell to the Queen: follow the funeral process minute by minute

• Read also: A royal burial site

A chapter of history has turned with this religious funeral, at Westminster Abbey in London, of the monarch who crossed her 70 years, seven months and two days of reign with a constant sense of duty, never leaving pierce an opinion but fulfilling her functions as Head of State with seriousness, benevolence for her subjects and a tongue-in-cheek humor that is sometimes irresistible.

“In a well-known speech given for his 21st birthday, his late Majesty declared that his whole life would be devoted to the service of the nation and the Commonwealth”, an organization bringing together many former British colonies, declared during the ceremony the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the Church of England which was led by the Queen.

“Rarely has a promise been so well kept,” he added, paying tribute to a “joyful, present for so many people, touching a multitude of lives” queen.

«God Save the King»

After the “Last Post” sounded, a tribute to fallen soldiers in the British Army, the ceremony ended with two minutes of poignant silence, observed across the country, then the national anthem in its male version, celebrating the new sovereign Charles III, “God Save the King”.

Applause rang out outside the building where Elizabeth, still a princess, married the dashing Philip Mountbatten aged 21 in November 1947, before being crowned there on June 2, 1953.

In the streets of London or Windsor, where the queen will be buried in the evening, the British have massed – for several days for some – to take part in this historic, festive day, the culmination of the emotion that has swept after the death of Elizabeth II on September 8 in her Scottish castle of Balmoral, at the age of 96.

In unison with the 2,000 guests inside Westminster Abbey, the public stands and sits during the ceremony, or gathers around the lucky few who can watch the ceremony on their mobile phones.

George and Charlotte at the funeral

Like a national mourning regulated to the millimeter and marked by the pomp and solemnity of which the British monarchy has the secret, the remains had left shortly before 10:00 GMT Westminster Hall where hundreds of thousands of Britons had gathered day and night since Wednesday, after hours of waiting.

To the sound of bagpipes and drum rolls, the coffin, draped in the royal standard and surmounted by the glittering imperial crown, was accompanied in procession to Westminster Abbey fired from a cannon carriage by sailors from the Royal Navy, forming an army of kepis.

The royal family followed, marching in step, their eyes fixed: Charles III, who became king at 73 after a life to wait, his brothers and sister Anne, Andrew and Edward, the heir to the throne Willam, new Prince of Wales and the prince Harry, in civilian clothes, consequence of his withdrawal from the monarchy in 2020.

In the nave of the Abbey, they were joined by Queen Consort Camilla, the wives of William, Kate, and Harry, Meghan. William and Kate’s two eldest children, George, 9, Charlotte, 7, walked behind their great-grandmother’s coffin as she arrived at the Abbey.

A bell had rung every minute, 96 times for as many years of the Queen, before the ceremony.

“I was there!”

Among the guests dressed in black, the gratin of world leaders had moved, from American President Joe Biden and French Emmanuel Macron to the Emperor of Japan Naruhito, for this first state funeral since that of Winston Churchill in 1965.

European crowned heads including King Philippe of Belgium, King Felipe VI of Spain and Prince Albert of Monaco also took their places under the Gothic arches of the abbey so linked to the destiny of Elizabeth II.

Never in years has London seen such an influx of dignitaries, and the capital’s police have never experienced such a security challenge.

For millions of Britons, Elizabeth II was the one, only, reassuring anchor of stability in the convulsions of a changing world.

“I will tell my children about this moment: I will say: I was there!” Says Jack, 14, who came in the early morning with his parents to Hyde Park Corner, not far from Buckingham Palace.

For 59-year-old Thay, the Queen brought “stability” to a “chaotic” life. He hopes Charles will do the same ‘because we need something to hold on to’.

In Windsor, where the queen had resided since the coronavirus pandemic, Pauline Huxtable, 64, came to celebrate her “extraordinary life”, imbued with “dignity”: she was a “mother figure”.

historical procession

After the ceremony in Westminster, the coffin was again placed on a Royal Navy gun carriage for a historic procession through the streets of central London to Wellington’s Arch, from where it will leave by hearse for Windsor Castle.

More than 6,000 soldiers will participate.

More and more frail in recent months, suffering from mobility problems, Elizabeth II still received, smiling, two days before her death, the brand new Prime Minister Liz Truss, her last public photo.

She was the oldest serving leader in the world. During her life, she went through the Second World War, saw the dissolution of the British Empire, the entry and then the exit of the European Union.

She will be buried privately on Monday evening, in the George VI Memorial in the castle chapel alongside her parents, Prince Philip who died in April 2021. They had been married for 73 years.

After exhausting days of travels in the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom, walkabouts combined with the mourning of a mother, Charles III, 73, will have to write his own story.

Some dreamed of a quick transition with the new Prince of Wales, his son William, 40. But Charles III promised, like his mother, to serve all his life.

If its popularity rating has skyrocketed, to 70% according to YouGov, the many challenges are only beginning, some Commonwealth countries not hiding their wish to see their ties with the monarchy evolve.

As of Tuesday, the United Kingdom resumes the course of its life suspended since September 8. The cost-of-living crisis and social movements should quickly make headlines again.

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