Saturday, December 03, 2022 | Jumada al-ula 8, 1444 H
clear sky
weather
OMAN
24°C / 24°C
EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

LIVE: State funeral procession of Queen Elizabeth II

England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales united in grief on Monday to bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II.


The United Kingdom's four nations came to a near-standstill for the state funeral of their longest-serving monarch.


The ceremony at Westminster Abbey and procession were broadcast live to 125 cinemas across the UK -- and to millions of living rooms nationwide.


Britons gathered at their homes, in community hubs, and in pubs, as the nation paused for a special public holiday.





No Image


The funeral was beamed onto big screens at civic buildings including Belfast City Hall, and key locations including Edinburgh's Holyrood Park and London's Hyde Park.


"She was an absolute rock," said bus driver Simon Freedman at the gathering in Belfast, one week after King Charles made his first visit as head of state.


He noted the late queen had met political parties in both the province and in Ireland -- and not just unionists who are loyal to the crown.


"She'd be there for anyone and everyone," Freedman added.


In Scotland, thousands gathered in front of Holyroodhouse Palace -- where the queen's coffin was held after her death on the royal Balmoral estate almost two weeks ago.


And on the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia, moored off the Scottish capital, Pipe Major Steven Dewar played a lament.


Proceedings were also viewed at seven English cathedrals including Ely, Lichfield, Liverpool, Manchester, and St Albans.


And the funeral was screened at cinemas and other notable locations in Wales.


That included at the Rhondda Valley's Lion in Treorchy pub, which Charles had visited in July and even poured a pint in his prior role as Prince of Wales.


- 'Massive shock' -


"We wanted to be open because this is a place where people come together not just in the good times but also when we need to join as a community," said landlord Adrian Emmett.


"We all knew this day would come but it was still a massive shock when it happened."


The funeral was meanwhile attended by dignitaries including Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.


The Scottish leader, who is spearheading a push for independence, nevertheless heaped praise on the late queen.


"She was the great constant," said Sturgeon, adding it was a "great honor" to represent Scotland.


Thousands of others thronged central London to experience the historic occasion in person.


Mourners stood silently for the funeral, before applauding the coffin after it passed along the procession route.


"I just appreciate what the queen has done for the Commonwealth and for the country," Neale Farr, 56, from Kent, told AFP on The Mall near Buckingham Palace.


"She's always done the right thing, always gave everything, even to her last days."


Back in Belfast, teacher Anna-Marie Pawson said the queen's passing had helped unite everyone across divides.


"There's nothing that's going to bring people together like this, like politicians or whoever," Pawson told AFP.


"Globally, wherever you are, this has really brought different communities together."


Huge crowds gathered to watch as the queen's flag-draped coffin, topped with the Imperial State Crown, her orb and sceptre, was carried slowly to a gun carriage from parliament's Westminster Hall where it had lain in state since Wednesday.


To the tune of pipes and drums, the gun carriage -- used at every state funeral since Queen Victoria's in 1901 -- was then drawn by 142 junior enlisted sailors in the Royal Navy to Westminster Abbey.


The thousand-year-old church's tenor bell tolled 96 times at one-minute intervals -- one for every year of her life -- and stopped a minute before the service began at 11:00 am (1000 GMT).


In his funeral sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the queen's life of duty and service to the UK and Commonwealth.


"People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer," he told the 2,000 guests, who included US President Joe Biden and Japan's Emperor Naruhito.


The coffin was then borne, to the rhythmic strains of funeral marches, towards the queen's final resting place at Windsor Castle, west of London.


All along the route, a sea of arms were raised aloft, clutching mobile phones, to record the choreographed display of military precision.


The last chants of "God save the queen" were heard as onlookers scattered flowers on the road, and muffled church bells rang in the distance.


- 'Moment of history' -


The queen -- the longest-serving monarch in British history -- died at Balmoral, her Scottish Highland retreat, on September 8 after a year of declining health.


Her eldest son and successor, King Charles III, dressed in ceremonial military uniform, followed the solemn processions, alongside his three siblings.


Charles's eldest son Prince William accompanied them alongside William's estranged brother, Prince Harry, and other senior royals.


William's two eldest children, George, aged nine, and Charlotte, aged seven, who are next in line to the throne, also followed behind the coffin in the abbey.


Late Sunday, Charles, 73, and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, 75, said they had been "deeply touched" by the public's flood of messages.


"I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you," he said.


Britain, a country much changed since the queen's coronation in the same abbey in 1953, has dug deep into its centuries of tradition to honour the only monarch that most of its people have ever known.


"It's once in a lifetime," said student Naomi Thompson, 22, camped out in the crowds at London's Hyde Park.


"It's a moment of history... She's everyone's granny," said engineer Alice Garret, 28.


- Biden's tribute -


"You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years; we all were," Biden said on Sunday after signing a book of condolence. "The world is better for her."


In the abbey pews was Liz Truss, whom the queen appointed as the 15th British prime minister of her reign just two days before her death, in her last major ceremonial duty.


All of Truss's living predecessors were there plus her counterparts and representatives from the 14 Commonwealth countries outside Britain where Charles is also head of state.


Whether they remain constitutional monarchies or become republics is likely to be the defining feature of Charles's reign.


The queen's death has prompted deep reflection about the Britain she reigned over, the legacy of its past, its present state and what the future might hold, as well as the values of lifelong service and duty she came to represent during her 70-year reign.


Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have queued, sometimes for up to 25 hours and overnight, to file past the queen's coffin as it lay in state.


Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the Royal Air Force who joined the marathon queue twice, was the last person through the doors early Monday and described the experience as "amazing".


- Private interment -


Throughout the procession after the funeral, Big Ben, the giant bell atop the Elizabeth Tower at one end of the Houses of Parliament, tolled and military guns fired at one-minute intervals.


At Windsor, the Sebastopol Bell -- captured in Crimea in 1856 -- and the Curfew Tower Bell also sounded.


A vast television audience was expected to watch the funeral worldwide and live online, in a sign of the enduring fascination with the woman once described as "the last global monarch".


With Elizabeth seen as Britain's final link between its imperial past, victory in World War II and the modern era, many of those lining the streets said they had to bear witness.


"I will talk about this moment to my children," said Jack Davies, 14, camped out for the procession with his parents at Hyde Park Corner, opposite Wellington Arch.


At Windsor, the queen's crown, orb and sceptre will be removed and placed on the altar at a committal service.


The most senior officer of the royal household, the lord chamberlain, breaks his "wand of office" and places it on the coffin, symbolising the end of her reign.


The lead-lined oak casket, draped with the queen's colours, will be lowered into the Royal Vault as a lone bagpiper plays a lament.


A private interment ceremony will take place at the adjoining King George VI Memorial Chapel at 1830 GMT.


SHARE ARTICLE
arrow up
home icon