Dubai — It was history in the making today when Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, was laid to rest at Windsor Castle in the English county of Berkshire, 35 kilometers outside London.
The funeral was watched by millions around the world and witnessed emotional scenes as thousands lined the route and threw chrysanthemums, lilies and myrtles on the royal hearse.
Many held up their mobile phones to capture a piece of history as the cortege drove past. In many places they held children dear and wanted them to witness, both literally and figuratively, the passing of an era.
This was a nation mourning the monarch – one who was loved, not just in Britain, but far and wide across her realms, the Commonwealth and the world.
Earlier in the day, the Queen’s funeral was held in the 1,000-year-old Westminster Abbey. Attended by world royalty, heads of state, who’s who of politics, peers and barons, the event marked a unique moment in British history.
For 70 years, the crown was cast in Elizabeth II’s image. Her funeral projected a sense of the end of an era. As the majestic English oak casket, carried by eight pallbearers from the Grenadier Guards, entered the cloister, silence fell over the elite gathering. Outside, tenor bells rang, declaring a royal rite of passage and a sense of renewal.
There they sat in the monastery — princes and prime ministers, kings and presidents, royal leaders from Japan’s King Naruhito and Empress Masako to King Harald V of Norway. Outside stood the people – all the way from London to Windsor, keeping a watch for their sovereign, whose duty and dedication they came to revere. It was a grand public send-off, a funeral fit for a queen.
Beamed on big screens across the UK – everyone from Belfast City Hall to Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park and London’s Hyde Park watched with rapt attention. All over the world – from Dubai to Delhi and New York to Nairobi – news alerts continued to trickle in.
There was something about the Queen that made people connect with her. It was as if she belonged to the world and not to Britain alone. In the words of one of her biographers, at some point during her long reign, Elizabeth became Queen of the World. And today in many ways marked the end of this chapter of the world’s shared history.
As the September sun set in Windsor, and Queen Elizabeth was lowered to her final resting place at St George’s Chapel of Remembrance, alongside Prince Philip, King George VI, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, it felt as if a golden chain, an anchor, snapped.
At the last service, the dirge to the Queen’s Piper, Sleep, dear, sleep was a highlight. Yes, her role was symbolic, the performance was ceremonial, the wands and wands were loud, but when history mixed with myth, you couldn’t tell.
All these years, Elizabeth II served as a torch. That light has gone out today.