The Daily Telegraph

The greatest global gathering ever seen


The state funeral today of Queen Elizabeth II will bring together possibly the greatest gathering of world leaders and diplomatic representa­tives ever seen. It is testament to the respect felt for the late monarch around the globe that so many heads of state, prime ministers and dignitarie­s are in London for the final obsequies.

Some have said the event marks the true end of the 20th century as we say goodbye to someone born just 26 years after its beginning. But that does a disservice to the Queen, who went out of her way to recognise and embrace change, even while seeking to maintain important parts of the past.

The funeral is the first for a sovereign in Westminste­r Abbey since George II in 1760. Since then they have taken place at Windsor, where the Queen’s body will be laid to rest alongside her consort, the Duke of Edinburgh.

These remarkable past 10 days have honoured the memory of a much-loved monarch, helped underpin national unity and acted as a showcase for many of the institutio­ns and virtues that the Queen personifie­d.

As many as two million people are expected to line the route of the procession from the Abbey to Wellington Arch, while an estimated television audience worldwide of four billion will tune in to watch. Thousands more will be waiting in Windsor for the arrival of the late Queen for her interment.

It has been a spectacle on a scale not seen since the last full state funeral in 1965 for Sir Winston Churchill. Moreover, it goes without saying that this has all required a massive amount of preparatio­n that had been years in the making. From the moment the Queen’s hearse left Balmoral last Sunday, through to the extraordin­ary scenes in Edinburgh as Scotland said farewell, to the procession along the Mall and lying in state in Westminste­r Hall, the organisati­on has been exceptiona­l. The ceremonial, pageantry and ritual attending the procession­s and religious services have been majestic.

Great credit must go to those who have worked so hard behind the scenes to ensure such an important event in our history has been marked so impeccably. The efforts of the staff attached to the heraldic offices in Scotland and to those of the Earl Marshal and the Lord Chamberlai­n, the College of Arms, the Armed Forces, the clergy, the police and the volunteers who have assisted the many thousands queuing for hours to file past the Queen’s coffin are to be applauded.

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