By DANICA KIRKA, MIKE CORDER and SAMYA KULLAB
LONDON (AP) — The UK and the world bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday with a state funeral that drew presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers – and crowds to the streets of London and to Windsor Castle – to honor a monarch whose 70-year reign has defined a age.
In a land known for pomp and pageantry, the first state funeral since that of Winston Churchill was filled with spectacle: before the service, a bell rang 96 times – once a minute for every year of Elizabeth’s life. Then 142 Royal Navy sailors used ropes to pull the gun carriage carrying his flag-draped coffin to Westminster Abbey, where pallbearers carried him inside and around 2,000 people went from world leaders to healthcare workers gathered to mourn.
The pitfalls of state and monarchy abounded: The coffin was draped with the royal standard and above it was the Imperial Crown of State, sparkling with nearly 3,000 diamonds, together with the sovereign’s orb and scepter.
But the staff were also present: the coffin was followed into the church by generations of Elizabeth’s descendants, including King Charles III, heir to the throne, Prince William and George, 9, who is second in line . On a wreath atop the coffin, a handwritten note read: “In Loving and Devoted Memory”, and was signed Charles R – for Rex, or King.
“Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the country, from the Commonwealth and from nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless and trusting service to her ‘commit to the mercy of God our Creator and Redeemer,’ the dean of the medieval abbey, David Hoyle, told mourners.
The service ended with two minutes of silence observed across the UK, after which attendees sang the national anthem, now titled “God Save the King”.
The day started early when the doors of Parliament’s 900-year-old Westminster Hall were closed to mourners after hundreds of thousands of people filed before his coffin..
Monday was declared a bank holiday in honor of Elizabeth, who died on September 8 – and hundreds of thousands of people descended on central London to bear witness to history. They blocked the sidewalks to watch the coffin make its way through the streets of the capital after the service. As the motorcade passed Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence in the city, staff stood outside, some bowing and curtseying.
Mark Elliott, 53, who traveled from the Lake District in northern England with his wife and two children to watch the procession, got up at 1.30am to mark out a good vantage point near the palace.
“I know we don’t know the Queen, but she’s been our head of state for 70 years, you feel like you know her, you feel like she’s part of the family. She’s a unmoving,” he said.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in his sermon at Westminster Abbey that “few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen” for the Queen.
More and more people followed the route taken by the hearse from the capital to Windsor Castle, and many people threw flowers at the motorcade as it passed. Millions more tune in to funeral live, and crowds flocked to parks and public spaces across the UK to watch it on screens. Even Google’s doodle turned respectful noir for the day.
When the coffin arrived at the castle there were poignant reminders of his love of animals: a groom stood by the roadside with one of his ponies, Emma, and another member of staff held the leashes of two of his beloved corgis, Sandy and Muick. .
During the engagement ceremony in St George’s Chapel on the castle grounds, the Dean of Windsor, David Conner, praised Elizabeth for her “unwavering life of service” to the nation, but also for her “kindness, concern and reassuring care for his family, friends and neighbours”. ”
Then the crown, orb and scepter were removed from the coffin and placed on the altar, separating them from the queen for the last time. His coffin was lowered into the royal vault through an opening in the floor of the chapel. Charles looked tired and emotional as mourners sang the national anthem.
In a private family service, the Queen was later buried with her husband, Prince Philip.
Mourners at Westminster Abbey included US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, all living former British prime ministers and European royalty.
In Japan, where Emperor Naruhito was also present, several people sipped beer and watched the service at British pub The Aldgate in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district.
“The queen had a particularly long history in a country that has a long history, so she deserves deep respect,” said one, Tomotaka Hosokawa.
The global outpouring of sympathy touched the King, who on the eve of the funeral sent a message of thanks to people in the UK and around the world, saying he and his wife, Camilla, the Queen Consort, had been “displaced beyond measure”. ” by the large number of people who came to pay their respects.
Jilly Fitzgerald, who was in Windsor, said there was a sense of community among the mourners as they prepared to wait for hours to see the procession carrying the Queen’s coffin.
“It’s good to be with all these people who feel the same. It’s like a big family because everyone feels like…the queen was part of her family,” she said.
Kullab reported from Windsor, England. Associated Press reporters Sylvia Hui and Jill Lawless in London and David Keyton in Windsor contributed.
Follow AP coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii