Monday, 19 September 2022

Grief Is the Price We Pay for Love: The Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

In Her late Majesty's final Christmas speech, she poignantly addressed the nation and told us "life consists of final partings as well as first meetings". In the eleven days since the Queen passed away at Balmoral, her sanctuary in the Highlands, we have been preparing for today's final parting. And yet, from her dearly loved family to people all over the world who mourn her loss, nothing could quite prepare for the scenes, and emotions, which came with saying goodbye for the last time.

For a woman who gave us seventy years of unrelenting devotion and service -- as King Charles said, "A promise with destiny kept" -- an oath which she fulfilled until her last breath. The sendoff which will live in history was not only richly deserved, it was a necessary gesture of gratitude. As the Royal family came out in force, they were joined by world leaders and royals from all over the globe who came together in a show of solidarity. Yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury remarked: "She's going to unite more global leaders possibly more than any point in history."

Marking the end to ten days of proceedings in London and Windsor was a procession of service personnel representing a variety of regiments, ships and air stations that held a special relationship with Her late Majesty.

Around 4,000 regular and reserve soldiers, sailors, marines and aviators, as well as musicians from Armed Forces bands, took part today.

It included included over 3,000 military personnel in central London, with 1,650 personnel forming part of the procession from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey, and from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch.

Commanding scenes.

The State Crown, Orb and Sceptre atop Her late Majesty's coffin.

The coffin was draped in the Royal Standard.

As for her father King George VI, grandfather King George V, great-grandfather King Edward VII and great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, Her Majesty the Queen’s coffin was borne to Westminster Abbey on the State Gun Carriage.

The King chose a beautiful sustainable wreath with a touching message reading: "In loving and devoted memory. Charles R." At His Majesty the King's request, the wreath contained flowers and foliage cut from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Highgrove House.

More from the Telegraph:

'This includes foliage chosen for its symbolism.

Rosemary for remembrance; Myrtle, the ancient symbol of a happy marriage, and cut from a  plant that was grown from a sprig of myrtle in Her Late Majesty's wedding bouquet in 1947; 

And English oak, which symbolises the strength of love. 

Also included are scented pelargoniums; garden roses; autumnal hydrangea; sedum; dahlias; and scabious, all  in shades of gold, pink and deep burgundy, with touches of white, to reflect the Royal  Standard, on which it sits. 

Again at His Majesty's request, the wreath is made in a totally sustainable way, in a nest of English moss and oak branches, and without the use of floral foam.'

The scene at Westminster Abbey.

A short procession taking less than ten minutes from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey saw King Charles lead members of the Royal family.

Prince Harry walked alongside Prince William and Peter Phillips. 

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The procession approaches the Abbey.

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The Duchess of Sussex travelled with the Countess of Wessex.

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A striking image.

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The Duchess is greeted.

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A brief video.

The royal party arrives at Westminster Abbey.

Other members of the Royal family arriving.

A sea of world leaders.

All arriving at the Abbey to pay their respects.

The Queen's coffin was carried inside by a bearer party of Grenadier Guards.

The Telegraph notes: "As the coffin entered, the Choir of Westminster Abbey sang lines, known as The Sentences, from Revelation 14:13, set to music written by William Croft and used at every state funeral since the early 18th century."

Members of the Royal family in procession.

The King and Queen Consort led the procession followed by the Princess Royal, Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Prince and Princess of Wales and Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Peter Phillips, the Earl of Snowdon, the Duke of Gloucester, Prince Michael of Kent and the Duke of Kent.

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The Order of Service for Westminster Abbey can be viewed here.

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Hymns included 'The Lord is my Shepherd' which was played at the then Prince Elizabeth and Prince Philip's wedding.

The royals sing hymns. 

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Chris Ship shared a video.

The anthem 'O taste and see' was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams for Her late Majesty's coronation at the Abbey in 1953.

During his sermon the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: "The pattern for all who serve God – famous or obscure, respected or ignored – is that death is the door to glory. Her Late Majesty famously declared in a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the Nation and Commonwealth. Rarely has such a promise been so well kept. Few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen. Jesus – who in our reading does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who – said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. 

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The Archbishop added: "Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed. I know His Majesty shares the same faith and hope in Jesus Christ as his mother; the same sense of service and duty. In 1953 the Queen began her Coronation with silent prayer, just there at the High Altar. Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her. Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth and the world had its foundation in her following Christ – God himself – who said that he “came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

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The Archbishop continued: "Those who serve will be loved and remembered longer than those who cling to power and privilege are long forgotten."

A two-minute silence was observed.

It was deeply emotional as 'God Save the King' was sung -- especially for the King.

Just three months ago, the family gathered at Westminster Abbey for Jubilee celebrations.

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A curtsy from Camilla, Kate, Meghan and Sophie as the Queen's coffin departs Westminster Abbey.

From Sky News.

Departing the Abbey.

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The Duchess wept after the service.

The party watches the procession before they leave by car.

The Telegraph's Charles Moore wrote: "After all the words had been spoken and all the hymns and anthems sung, the Queen’s Piper played 'Sleep, dearie, sleep'. As the sound wrapped itself round the soaring Gothic architecture, young Prince George cast his eyes about, trying to trace where it was coming from. Then it grew quieter and more distant, as if departing over the hills above Balmoral, and everything was at peace."

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People reports:

'Speaking with PEOPLE after the poignant services, funeral guest and attorney Pranav Bhanot shared some of the moments he saw between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during the Westminster Abbey state funeral.

"You saw the reassurance that Harry was giving to Meghan at times when they were walking together and had to go in their different directions," Bhanot told PEOPLE.

"I noticed just how supportive Harry was to Meghan," he continued. "When they went their separate directions after the ceremony, he gave her a firm squeeze of the hand. I felt he wanted to ensure she felt comfortable."

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It was incredibly emotional.

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Prince Harry prepares to bid farewell to his beloved grandmother.

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Whilst this isn't the occasion to discuss fashion, it's worth nothing Meghan wore the diamond and pearl earrings the Queen gifted her. It also appears she wore a Stella McCartney cape dress, she owns the piece in navy.

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From Westminster Abbey, it was time for the Long Walk home.

Her late Majesty's coffin was borne to Wellington Arch via the Mall on the State Gun Carriage.

Passing Buckingham Palace for the last time.

The royals watched the Bearer Party transfer the coffin into the State Hearse at Wellington Arch.

The Duchess and the Countess.

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Members of the public stood on the route and threw flowers.

The procession travelled through the streets of Windsor.

Minute guns fired by the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery from the East Lawn at Windsor Castle.

Historic scenes on the Long Walk as 100,000 people lined the way.

As we watched the scenes unfold, one couldn't help but remember we're living history right now.

A captivating sea of floral tributes arranged on the lawns of Windsor Castle.

I can only imagine the work it took.

There have been different moments throughout the day which brought a tear to the eye. One of those for me was seeing the Queen's darling corgis, Muick and Sandy, on the forecourt of Windsor Castle as the coffin passed. They will now live with the Duke and Duchess of York.

Her Majesty's favourite horse Emma was also brought to bid farewell; the Queen's love of horses was a central part of her life.

Members of royal families from all over the world arrive at Windsor.

A few private moments.

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With the Princess Royal and her husband Sir Tim Laurence.

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Prince Harry and The King.

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The procession makes its way through Windsor Castle.

The hearse makes its final stop -- bringing Her Majesty home.

Meghan arrives at Windsor.

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The Bearer Party from the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards undertook the challenge of mounting the coffin up the steps in concert with each other.

The royal procession followed closely behind.

The Order of Service for the Committal Service can be viewed here.

The royals take their seats.

A final procession.

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At the Committal Service, the Dean of Windsor read from the Book of Revelation: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

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The Waleses and Sussexes sat together.

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The Imperial State Crown, Sceptre and Orb are removed from the coffin -- a final parting of Her late Majesty from the Crown.

Prince Harry looks on.

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A lament by the Queen's Piper.

Her Majesty the Queen is lowered into the Royal Vault where the Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest.

A visibly emotional Royal family departing the service.

It was beautifully organised. 

The family returned to St George's Chapel at 7.30 pm for a private burial service. Buckingham Palace shared this beautiful image of Her late Majesty along with the Duke of Edinburgh, her father King George VI, her mother Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and sister Princess Margaret. She was laid to rest with all of them. Her father King George VI was known to refer to his family (his wife and two daughters) as "Us Four".

During this morning's service at Westminster Abbey, Gyles Brandreth shared an excerpt from a letter the Queen's father wrote after her wedding at the Abbey -- "I felt that I had lost something very precious" -- a sentiment shared all around the world today.

As Her late Majesty said, "Grief is the price we pay for love," and as we mourn not just a Queen but The Queen, it is willingly paid in gratitude for the privilege of seven decades of Queen Elizabeth II as our monarch. During the most uncertain period of the pandemic, the Queen promised us "we would meet again", and we did, for you, Ma'am. We stood together as a nation, braving 'the queue' for over 24 hours, politicians crossed political lines, and global leaders joined forces. Divisions within the Royal family were put aside to honour a woman so dearly loved.

Though we will miss her so, we'll take comfort in thinking of Lilibet reunited with the love of her life, Philip. If ever Her late Majesty's feelings for her husband could be captured in a single photo -- it is in this family shot taken after their engagement.

Buckingham Palace shared this image, taken at Balmoral in 1971, to signify Her late Majesty had been buried. "May flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest."

May she rest in everlasting peace.

Watch: The Queen's Funeral

I'm sharing several Live Streams for Her late Majesty's funeral. The Order of Service for Westminster Abbey is here while Windsor here.