Royal family members and dignitaries gathered at Westminster Abbey for a somber service. Thousands more flocked to streets along the 25-mile (40-kilometer) procession route from central London to Windsor, hoping to catch a glimpse of the sovereign’s flag-draped coffin as it travels by hearse to her final resting place in St. George’s Chapel, within the grounds of Windsor Castle, for the rest of the funeral proceedings.
From humanitarian groups, to women’s rights and animal welfare, the Queen was patron of hundreds of charities. Representatives of those patronages, along with emergency service workers and public servants, were also among the 2,000-strong congregation.
The funeral, which served as both a state and religious service and marks the culmination of 10 days of mourning, honored the Queen with the sort of pageantry that she used to promote the royal family and “brand Britain” throughout her life.
Many of the Queen’s subjects felt as though they knew her — the woman whose image is on coins and postage stamps, who surveys say appears most frequently in people’s dreams.
“She isn’t just a 21st century monarch, she’s something more,” Chris Rowe, 60, who was camped out on a grassy bank of The Mall to watch the funeral procession with his wife, told CNN. The Queen represents the “continuity of a hundreds-years-old tradition,” he said, adding that he came to London to see “the continuity of the nation.”
While there were no screens, mourners on The Mall were able to hear a radio broadcast of the funeral. People stood still, their gazes lowered.
Westminster Abbey’s Tenor Bell tolled once a minute for 96 minutes before the service, marking each year of the Queen’s life.
Small details like the wreath of flowers atop her coffin provided a view into the Queen’s personal taste. Made from flowers and foliage cut from the gardens of Buckingham Palace and other royal estates, it included pink and gold pelargoniums, garden roses and dahlias, with myrtle cut from a plant grown from a sprig that featured in the Queen’s wedding bouquet.
As the coffin moved inside the abbey, the Queen’s great-grandchildren Prince George and Princess Charlotte formed part of the procession behind her coffin. The Choir of Westminster Abbey in the Nave sang the Sentences — lines of scripture set to music which have been used at every state funeral since the early part of the 18th century.
It was the sort of traditional, classical music that the Queen championed in life. Hymns chosen were “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord” and “The Lord is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want,” which was sung at her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947, and the anthem “O Taste and see how gracious the Lord is,” which was composed for the Queen’s coronation in 1953 by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
A choral piece was also especially commissioned for the day, composed by the master of the king’s music, Judith Weir, “Like as the hart.” It is said to be inspired by the Queen’s “unwavering Christian faith,” and is a setting of Psalm 42 to music.
Rev. David Hoyle, the Dean of Westminster, conducted the service. UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, who the Queen appointed just two days before her death, and Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland read lessons and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivered a sermon.
“The grief of this day, felt not only by the late Queen’s family but all round the nation, the Commonwealth and the world, arises from her abundant life and loving service — now gone from us,” Welby said in his sermon, recalling the monarch’s 21st birthday broadcast, in which she famously declared that she would dedicate her whole life to serving the nation and the Commonwealth.
“Service in life, hope in death; all who follow the Queen’s example and inspiration of trust and faith in God can with her say: ‘we will meet again,'” he concluded, quoting the Queen’s speech during Britain’s Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, a nod to Vera Lynn’s wartime song.
The hour-long service concluded with a two-minute silence, after which the congregation sang the national anthem, “God Save the King.” The Queen’s piper, whose music roused her every morning, played a fitting lament, “Sleep, dearie, sleep,” to close the proceedings.
The day’s events are a display of centuries-old rituals — a royal cavalcade flanked by guards in braided uniforms, kilted bagpipers and drummers, streets lined with soldiers saluting as the coffin passes. Minute guns will be fired in Hyde Park and Big Ben will toll throughout the procession to Wellington Arch, where the coffin will be lifted into a hearse and transported to Windsor.
In a committal service Monday afternoon, attended by members of the royal family and the Queen’s household staff past and present, her coffin will be lowered into a royal vault in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Later in the evening, in a private burial, she will be reunited with her husband of 73 years, “her constant strength and guide,” the Duke of Edinburgh. The couple will be interred together in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, an annex of St. George’s Chapel that also houses the remains of the Queen’s father, her mother the Queen Mother, and her sister Princess Margaret.
“It just means so much to me,” said Lorraine Calloway, who came to Windsor with her son Cohen, age 8, to participate in the historic day. “To come and see the Queen have her last resting place here is something that is really fundamentally important to me, and the family.”
CNN’s Hafsa Khalil and Mick Krever contributed to this report.