The Daily Telegraph
A life of selfless service
Leaders from across the world gather to honour the love and devotion of Queen Elizabeth II in state funeral with role for great-grandchildren
‘Her calm and dignified presence has given us confidence to face the future, … with courage and hope’
QUEEN ELIZABETH II will today be laid to rest with Prince Philip, as the world gathers to hear tributes to her dignity, courage and “long life of selfless service”.
Her life will be commemorated in a full state funeral, where heads of state, religious leaders and the Royal family, including two of her young greatgrandchildren, will honour her “faith and devotion”, her “love for her family”, and her “lifelong sense of duty and dedication to her people”.
In a more intimate committal service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, the congregation will hear how “in the midst of our rapidly changing and frequently troubled world, her calm and dignified presence has given us confidence to face the future, as she did, with courage and with hope”.
The day of the Queen’s funeral, which begins at 11am, will end with a private and “deeply personal” burial service at the King George VI Memorial Chapel in Windsor Castle, where she will join her father, mother, sister and husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.
As the coffin leaves the Abbey for the final time, 70 years after the Queen acceded to the throne, her piper will play Sleep, Dearie, Sleep.
In an act of respect for their greatgrandmother, Prince George, nine, and Princess Charlotte, seven, will join their parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, for the formal procession through Westminster Abbey, with senior members of the Royal family.
The children are thought to be the youngest ever to take a central role in such an occasion; a future King and his sister taking their place in the history books under the watchful eyes of their parents.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will also walk, one place behind them, in an arrangement led by the King and Queen Consort. They will be joined in the congregation by presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens.
Last night, the King hosted what has been described as the diplomatic reception of the century, with 1,000 guests at Buckingham Palace, including Joe Biden, the US president, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and Justin Trudeau and Jacinda Ardern, the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand. The Princess of Wales yesterday met with Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine.
Billions of viewers are expected to tune in around the world to watch the service, with a million mourners expected to try to visit the square mile around Buckingham Palace.
Last night, well-wishers were already camping out to secure front-row positions to see the processions, in which the full might of the military will be on display, marching alongside representatives of the NHS, the Royal family and the late Queen’s household.
The queue for the Westminster Hall lying in state, which has become an event in itself, finally closed at 10.41pm, with the last mourners working their way through at 6.30am, before it was closed for final funeral preparations.
The funeral will mark the end of an unprecedented 10 days of national mourning, which has seen hundreds of thousands of people queue through the night to see the coffin. As it draws to a close, Buckingham Palace has released a new image of the late Queen, taken at Windsor Castle in May and showing her at her most radiant.
In it, she is wearing aquamarine clip brooches, given to her by her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on her 18th birthday in 1944. Last night, the King thanked the watching world for the outpouring of support shown for his late mother.
“Over the last 10 days, my wife and I have been so deeply touched by the many messages of condolence and support we have received from this country and across the world,” he said.
“In London, Edinburgh, Hillsborough and Cardiff, we were moved beyond measure by everyone who took the trouble to come and pay their respects to the lifelong service of my dear mother, the late Queen.
“As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my family and myself in this time of grief.”
At 8pm, the nation fell silent for one minute in reflection. Big Ben failed to strike as planned, the result of what Parliament described as a “minor technical issue” which it was “confident” would not affect its tolling during the funeral procession.
The day of the funeral will be divided into three services: the state funeral at Westminster Abbey with 2,000 guests, a committal at St George’s Chapel for 800 closer family and loyal former staff, and a private evening burial with a small number of immediate family.
Today, guests will begin arriving at the Abbey at 9am.
From 10.35am, the Queen’s coffin will be moved by gun carriage from the hall to the Abbey, accompanied by a walking procession of the King, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal, the Earl of Wessex, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex, Peter Phillips, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Snowdon, as well as representatives of the Grenadier, Coldstream and Irish Guards and Royal Marines.
Shortly before the service begins at 11am, the Abbey’s Tenor Bell will be tolled once a minute for 96 minutes; one for each year of her life.
The traditional service will include nods to the late Duke of Edinburgh, with the inclusion of the Russian Kontakion of the Departed, the hymn of the Orthodox Church into which he was born and which played at his own service in 2021.
The music, a Kiev Melody, will likely be seen as a touching reference to the Ukrainians currently fighting for their homeland, and comes amid a list of music heavily dominated by British composers.
The congregation will sing The Lord’s My Shepherd, which was used at the wedding of the then Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, in 1947. The service will close with Last Post, Reveille and the national anthem – God Save the King.
Later, during the committal service at 4pm, the motet will feature music by Sir William Henry Harris, KCVO, who taught the young Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret to play the piano. The congregation will hear Revelation 21, verses 1-7, which was read at the funerals of the Queen’s grandparents, King George V in 1936 and Queen Mary in 1953, as well as her father’s funeral in 1952. A new choral piece, composed by Judith Weir, the Master of The King’s Music, for the occasion, is inspired by Her Majesty’s “unwavering Christian faith”.
A major security operation is underway, including a no-fly zone and droneblocking technology. It is described by Scotland Yard as “hugely complex” and the “largest single policing event” it has ever undertaken.
Transport authorities have warned would-be visitors that London stations will be shut at short notice to keep passengers safe. Such a crowd is expected that mourners are being asked to throw only single flowers during the procession, without plastic packaging and other tributes such as teddy bears.
The Chief of the Defence Staff has told of the last-minute preparations facing the military’s top brass, with the heads of the Royal Air Force, British Army and Royal Navy told to “up their game” to perfect their marching in time to a metronome app.
Around 4,000 military personnel will be on parade on the day of the funeral, 3,000 of them in London and 1,000 in Windsor. At the Westminster Abbey service will be representatives of the Queen’s much-loved charities, including the Royal College of Nursing, Royal British Legion Scotland, Cooperation Ireland, and the Welsh Pony and Cob Society. Holders of the George Cross, Victoria Cross, and representatives of the Orders of Chivalry will process through the Abbey as honoured guests, along with leaders of multiple faiths.
Last night, tributes were already being paid to the late Queen. In a Radio 4 broadcast, the Archbishop of Canterbury said she had “sought, at every turn, to live a life worthy of her calling”.
“She was not simply a concept or an idea of the British State,” he said. “She was a person, representing all the persons who make up this country, and their dreams and efforts towards the common good.”
Mr Biden, addressing the people of the United Kingdom, said: “You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years, we all were. The world is better for her.”
The Duke of York, the last of his family to release a personal tribute, called her “Mummy, Mother [of the nation], Your Majesty, three in one.”
He said: “Your love for a son, your compassion, your care, your confidence I will treasure forever.”
In the service to be televised from Westminster Abbey, where the late Queen was married and crowned, the watching world will hear of her “long life of selfless service”. The Dean of Westminster will say: “With admiration, we recall her lifelong sense of duty and dedication to her people.”