a year ago

Queen Elizabeth's coffin on its way to final resting place

The coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth making its way to Westminster Abbey on the day of the state funeral and burial in London on Monday -Reuters photo
The coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth making its way to Westminster Abbey on the day of the state funeral and burial in London on Monday -Reuters photo

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Tens of thousands of people lined the route taking the late Queen Elizabeth to her final resting place at Windsor Castle on Monday, throwing flowers towards the hearse and cheering as it departed the British capital following her state funeral.

Many thousands more crammed into central London to witness a ceremony of matchless pageantry attended by leaders and royalty from across the world, a fitting end for Britain's longest-serving monarch who won global respect during 70 years on the throne.

After the service, her flag-draped casket was pulled through silent streets on a gun carriage in one of the largest military processions seen in Britain involving thousands of members of the armed forces dressed in ceremonial finery.

They walked in step to funeral music from marching bands, while in the background the city's famous Big Ben tolled each minute. King Charles and other senior royals followed on foot.

The casket was taken from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch, where it was transferred to a hearse to begin its journey to Windsor. There the queen was to be laid to rest alongside her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip.

Inside the majestic Westminster Abbey where the funeral was held, music played at the queen's wedding in 1947 and her coronation six years later again rang out.

The coffin entered to lines of scripture set to a score used at every state funeral since the early 18th century.

The 2,000-strong congregation included some 500 presidents, prime ministers, foreign royal families and dignitaries including Joe Biden of the United States and leaders from France, Canada, Australia, China, Pakistan and the Cook Islands.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told the congregation that the grief felt by so many across Britain and the wider world reflected the late monarch's "abundant life and loving service."

"Her late majesty famously declared on a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth," he said.

"Rarely has such a promise been so well kept. Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen."

Among the crowds who came from around Britain and beyond, people climbed lampposts and stood on barriers and ladders to catch a glimpse of the royal procession.

Some wore smart black suits and dresses. Others were dressed in hoodies, leggings and tracksuits. A woman with dyed green hair stood next to a man in morning suit as they waited for the procession to begin.

Millions more watched on television at home on a public holiday declared for the occasion, the first time the funeral of a British monarch has been televised. Around the wider capital, normally bustling streets were deserted.

Ben Vega, 47, a nurse from the Philippines standing at the back of the crowd on a stool, said he was a royalist.

"I love pageantry. I love how the British do this," he said. "I'm from the Philippines, we don't have this, we don't have royal families. It's a sad day for me. I've been here 20 years. I saw the queen as my second mum, England as my second home."

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