Queen Elizabeth II has finally been laid to rest on the grounds of Windsor Castle. She was buried next to her late husband, Prince Phillip, after a procession that lasted 15 hours. Nearly 6,000 military personnel were deployed to ensure the event ran smoothly while 1,650 of them were directly involved in the Royal procession of the monarch through the streets of London and to Windsor Castle. She was buried in King George VI Memorial Chapel, part of St George’s Chapel, on the grounds of Windsor.
An estimated 4.1 billion people were thought to have tuned in to watch the service, making it the most watched event in human history. In the UK, 125 cinemas live-streamed the events while in Canberra, government officials gathered at Government House to watch the proceedings.
All the big names you would expect were in attendance, including world leaders from almost every country on Earth and the entire extended Royal family. Some 2000 dignitaries and guests were assembled in Westminster Abbey, including Anthony Albanese, who popped up on camera a few times during the event.
If you were one of the people who managed not to catch the funeral, here are the highlights of what you missed.
The Queen’s Coffin Was Carried From Westminster Hall
The body of Queen Elizabeth II has been ‘lying in state’ for the past four days to allow the public time to come and pay tribute to the late monarch. Long queues formed through London of thousands of mourners with waiting times reported being as much as 30 hours to see her.
That ended at 6:30 am local time on Monday, with the Queen’s coffin lifted from the ‘catafalque’ and carried onto the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy. It was the same carriage used to carry the bodies of Queen Victoria, her father, King George VI, and Winston Churchill.
A Royal procession made up of members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines carried the coffin from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey, a short journey of about eight minutes.
The coffin was draped in the Royal Standard and had the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s Orb and Sceptre placed on top of it.
Arrival at Westminster Abbey
The Queen’s coffin arrived at Westminster Abbey at 10:52 am local time, with world leaders gathering in the Abbey before her arrival. US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill were there, along with French President Emmanuel Macron and wife Brigitte. Albanese tweeted that he would be in attendance with partner Jodie Haydon, which is totally expected of him given this is pretty much the biggest diplomatic event in history.
This morning in London I will attend the state funeral for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Audiences around the world watch the procession, which will be broadcast live on the ABC. pic.twitter.com/88mcNhebYj
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) September 19, 2022
Of course, we also saw Harry and Meghan, William and Kate, and their children George and Charlotte. Louis, their youngest, wasn’t in attendance, and neither were Archie and Lilibet, the children of the former couple. Some have suggested that Louis wasn’t allowed to join due to his record of being a bit of a menace at public events.
People thinking Prince Louis isn’t there because he’s too young
— Joe (@onlyjoekin_) September 19, 2022
The Queen’s coffin was followed into the Abbey by the new King Charles III and Elizabeth II’s other children, Andrew, Anne, and Edward, as well as her grandchildren, Harry and William and Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne. Harry, despite having served for 10 years in the military, was the only one not allowed to wear his uniform, a right he apparently gave up when he left the Royal family.
In what must have been the most intense job in the world, the coffin was carried on the shoulders of eight Royal Navy personnel through Westminster Abbey and placed on a platform at the head of the church.
The Service Gets Underway
The Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, began the proceedings by saying that it was a gathering “held in grief and also in profound thanksgiving.”
“Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the 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 sure confidence to commit her to the mercy of God our maker and redeemer,” he said.
The Baroness Scotland of Asthal KC gave the first reading, followed by the new UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss. It’s fair to say Boris Johnson, who was taken over by Truss just three days before the passing of The Queen, must have been fuming.
The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a speech, as did representatives from the Church of Scotland, Churches Together, and the Catholic Church. They spoke of sorrow at her passing and gave prayers to the new King.
Someone Dropped Some Paper
Soon after the coffin was placed on the plinth, one of the religious leaders at the front of the church dropped a small square of paper on the floor and the internet went wild for it.
With the main action done, there wasn’t a whole lot to focus on, and eagle-eyed viewers spotted a piece of paper that fell out of one of the order of services and caused some drama as people wondered whether or not it was going to be picked up.
The paper drop was unfortunately followed by a slow zoom into the coffin with the paper just behind it. After a cutaway, the paper mysteriously vanished, presumably subtly swept up by its owner.
— Rowan Williams (@Rowanfb) September 19, 2022
Songs Chosen Due to Special Significance
All of the songs and hymns performed at the service had some special tie to the life of Queen Elizabeth II. ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’ was chosen, for example, as it was sung at the wedding of The Queen, in the same place her funeral was held, way back in 1947.
‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’ was played at the wedding of William and Kate, the Prince and Princess of Wales, also in Westminster Abbey, in 2011.
We also heard the song ‘O Taste and See’, which was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams for The Queen’s coronation in 1953.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte Steal the Show
People can’t get enough of tiny, cute Royals for whom the whole spectacle must be totally bizarre and overwhelming. Highly relatable. Prince George was seen fidgeting in his chair next to his parents while Charlotte seemed to step up to the occasion and kept herself pretty calm.
Charlotte was later spotted instructing her older brother on what exactly he needed to do:
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Flowers, and a Spider, on the Coffin
The Queen’s coffin had a floral arrangement placed on top of it, chosen for its symbolism by King Charles III. The colours of the flowers are designed to compliment the Royal Standard below and the arrangement was made using moss instead of synthetic foam to make it sustainable, at the King’s request.
It contained flowers and foliage cut from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, and Highgrove House.
These included rosemary, for remembrance, myrtle, cut from plant that was also used in The Queen’s bridal bouquet and a symbol of happy marriage, and English oak to symbolise strength.
Some viewers caught a glimpse of a tiny hitchhiker who stowed away on the coffin of The Queen. A spider was seen crawling across the card left by King Charles III which prompted TV commentators to spend the next minute or so contemplating the life of that now internationally famous spider.
Imagine you're a spider in the garden and you fall asleep in a pink rose.
When you wake up, you stretch all your little legs and realise that you're suddenly naked in Westminster Abbey, on top of the Queen's coffin in front of world leaders and billions of people🕷️#queensfuneral pic.twitter.com/ARNc9s4y8O
— Fiona Adorno🌻 (@FionaAdorno) September 19, 2022
God Save the King
The British national anthem was sung to wrap up the ceremony, which for the past 70 years has been ‘God Save the Queen’. You could see at least a few of those in attendance looked a bit unsure of the words, with the natural inclination to say ‘Queen’ instead of ‘King’ still strong.
The Queen’s Coffin Left Westminster Abbey
The coffin was taken from the Abbey and placed again on the state Gun Carriage. It was then wheeled through Parliament Square, to Horseguards Parade, before travelling down The Mall and around the Queen Victoria monument at the front of Buckingham Palace. It arrived at Wellington Arch where it was transferred to the State Hearse to be driven to Windsor Castle.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police led the procession. ANZAC veterans and other high-ranking members of the military from Commonwealth countries flanked the coffin as it was drawn along the parade grounds. In the distance, Big Ben chimed slowly throughout the march, which was probably a major relief given it had failed to chime before and after the one-minute silence held on Sunday.
The Brits know how to do pomp and circumstance well, given they practically invented it, and the procession down the Mall and towards Buckingham Palace was a real spectacle, with Queen’s Guard members lining the road in their Bearskin hats as thousands of onlookers stood by in silence.
The Queen Leaves London for the Final Time
Once the funeral procession reached Wellington Arch, the coffin was transferred to the State Hearse and The Queen was driven through London on her final journey out of the capital. Mourners lined the route, throwing flowers onto the hearse.
The journey took about an hour, with members of the public following her at every move. 36 kilometres of fencing was put up to keep the crowds at bay
The Queen Reaches Windsor
The Queen’s coffin arrived at Windsor Castle at around 2pm local time to a massive military salute. Guns were fired every minute as the procession made its way down the Long Walk. Hundreds of military guards in full regalia accompanied the coffin as it approached St George’s Chapel.
You’ll be pleased to hear that two of the royal corgis, named Muick and Sandy, were waiting for the procession at Windsor Castle. Prince Andrew was seen saying hello to them as he is now their new owner, as per Royal protocol since he was the one who gave them to The Queen.
Thousands of people lined the streets to get a final glimpse of The Queen before she entered the gates of Windsor Castle where she would be interred as part of a private service.
The Queen Reaches Her Final Resting Place
The Queen’s coffin was carried into the King George VI Memorial Chapel by the same eight members of the Royal Navy who carried her into and out of Westminster Abbey.
Just 800 guests were in attendance for what was a much more intimate and private affair. The Royal Orb and Sceptre were removed for the final time from her coffin, signifying that her reign as monarch had ended.
The Dean of Windsor, David Conner, lead the service, saying that Queen Elizabeth II brought calm and dignity to her people.
“As, with grateful hearts, we reflect on these and all the many other ways in which her long life has been a blessing to us, we pray that God will give us the grace to honour her memory by following her example, and that, with our sister Elizabeth, at the last, we shall know the joys of life eternal,” he said.
In a symbolic move that speaks to the deep weirdness of ancient British tradition, the head of The Queen’s Household broke his Wand of Office in half before placing it on the coffin. This is another gesture designed to show that her reign has finished and that her duty has been done.
The Queen Is Buried
The Queen’s coffin was lowered into the Royal vault in King George’s Memorial Chapel where it was laid next to the body of her late husband, Prince Phillip, who was moved into the vault today. Her father, King George VI, as well as The Queen Mother, and her sister, Princess Margaret, are also buried there.
A final, private service for close family and friends was held before she was buried, giving members of the Royal Family, who have been in the public spotlight for the past 10 days, a moment of reflection on the passing of The Queen.
This evening a Private Burial will take place in The King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor.
The Queen will be Laid to Rest with her late husband The Duke of Edinburgh, alongside her father King George VI, mother Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and sister Princess Margaret. pic.twitter.com/pwwZeKs02C
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 19, 2022
And that’s it. No more Queen Elizabeth II. She will be the only female head of the Royal family that any of us are likely to see in our lifetimes and has been an iconic part of British and, by extension, Commonwealth life for the past 70 years. Few people can remember a ruler before her and it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a monarch reign for as long.