By DANICA KIRKA, MIKE CORDER and SAMYA KULLAB
LONDON (AP) – Britain and the world bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday with a state funeral that drew presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers — and crowds to the streets of London and to Windsor Castle — to honor a monarch whose 70-year reign defined an age.
In a country known for pomp and splendour, the first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s was filled with spectacle: Before the service a bell tolled 96 times – once a minute for each year of Elizabeth’s life. Then 142 Royal Navy sailors used ropes to pull the gun carriage carrying her flag-draped coffin to Westminster Abbey, where pallbearers carried it in and around 2,000 people, from world leaders to health workers, gathered to mourn.
It abounded in state and monarchy: The casket was draped with the Royal Standard and on top was the Imperial State Crown, glittering with nearly 3,000 diamonds, and the sovereign’s orb and sceptre.
But the personal was also present: the casket was followed into the church by generations of Elizabeth’s descendants, including King Charles III, heir to the throne Prince William and 9-year-old George, who is second in line. On a wreath on top of the coffin was a handwritten note “In loving and affectionate memory”, and was signed Charles R – for Rex, or King.
“Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from the whole nation, from the Commonwealth and from the nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service, and in confident confidence to commit her to the grace of God our creator and redeemer, the dean of the medieval monastery, David Hoyle, told the mourners.
The service ended with two minutes of silence across the UK, after which those present sang the national anthem, now entitled “God Save the King”.
The day began early as the doors to Parliament’s 900-year-old Westminster Hall were closed to mourners after hundreds of thousands lined up in front of her coffin.
Monday was declared a public holiday in honor of Elizabeth, who died on September 8 – and hundreds of thousands of people flocked to central London. to witness history. They jammed the pavement to watch the coffin move through the capital’s streets after the service. As the procession passed Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence in the city, staff stood outside, some bowing and turning.
Mark Elliott, 53, who traveled from the Lake District in northern England with his wife and two children to watch the procession, got up at 1.30am to find a good viewing spot near the palace.
“I know we don’t know the Queen, but she’s been our head of state for 70 years, you feel like you know her, you feel like she’s part of the family. It’s a bit touching, he said.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in his homily at Westminster Abbey that “few leaders receive the love we have seen” for the Queen.
Several people lined the route the hearse took from the capital to Windsor Castle, and many threw flowers at the cortege as it passed. Millions more tuned in to the funeral live, and crowds flocked to parks and public spaces across the UK to watch it on screens. Even the Google doodle turned respectfully black for the day.
When the coffin arrived at the castle, there were poignant reminders of her love of animals: A groom stood by the roadside with one of her ponies, Emma, and another member of staff held the leashes of two of her beloved corgis, Sandy and Muick.
During the commitment ceremony in St George’s Chapel on the grounds of the castle, the Dean of Windsor David Conner praised Elizabeth for her “life of unstinting service” to the nation, but also her “kindness, concern and reassuring care for her family and friends and neighbours.”
Then the crown and orb and scepter were removed from the top of the coffin and placed on the altar – separating them from the Queen for the last time. Her coffin was lowered into the royal vault through an opening in the chapel floor. Charles looked tired and emotional as mourners sang the national anthem.
At a private family service, the Queen was later laid to rest with her husband, Prince Philip.
Mourners at Westminster Abbey included US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, all living former British Prime Ministers and European royalty.
In Japan, where Emperor Naruhito also attended, many sipped beer and watched the service at The Aldgate British pub in Tokyo’s fashionable Shibuya district.
“The queen had a particularly long history in a country that has a long history, and therefore she deserves deep respect,” said one of them, Tomotaka Hosokawa.
The global outpouring of sympathy touched the king, who on the eve of the funeral released a message of thanks to people in Britain and around the world, saying he and his wife, Camilla, the queen consort, had been “touched beyond measure”. ” by the large number of people who have shown respect.
Jilly Fitzgerald, who was in Windsor, said there was a sense of community among mourners as they prepared to wait hours to see the procession carrying the Queen’s coffin.
“It’s good to be with all the people who all feel the same. It’s like a big family because everyone feels that … the Queen was part of their family,” she said.
Kullab reported from Windsor, England. Associated Press reporters Sylvia Hui and Jill Lawless in London and David Keyton in Windsor contributed.
Follow AP coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii