Britain and the world said their public farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday in a service layered in pomp and piety, yet rooted in the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer used for all members.
Her country’s longest-reigning monarch, Elizabeth died at age 96 in the afternoon of Sept. 8. King Charles III, her eldest child, immediately succeeded her and led the funeral procession behind his mother’s casket.
“Few leaders have received the outpouring of love we have seen,” said the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. “Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed,” he added.
Archbishop Welby said the Queen modeled the servant leadership expressed in the life of Jesus, who was her Savior.
“People of loving service are rare in any walk of life,” he said. “Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.”
The Westminster Abbey funeral drew a packed crowd of 2,000 global heads of state, including U.S. President Biden, as well as family and select friends.
As many as 2 million poured into the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the late queen’s casket as it made its final journey to Windsor Castle, where it will be placed next to the remains of Prince Philip, who preceded her in death 17 months earlier.
A global television audience of 4 billion people viewed the proceedings, making this the largest single event ever broadcast.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Baroness Scotland of Asthall, secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Nations, read Scripture passages. Prayers were offered by clergy representing the major Protestant faiths of Britain — Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and the Free Churches — as well as Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster.
The Scottish lament, “Sleep, dearie, sleep,” echoed through the abbey as the service drew to a close and the coffin was carried to a naval gun carriage for the trip.
Atop the casket was a wreath prepared at King Charles III’s request, containing “foliage of Rosemary, English Oak and Myrtle (cut from a plant grown from Myrtle in The Queen’s wedding bouquet) and flowers, in shades of gold, pink and deep burgundy, with touches of white, cut from the gardens of Royal Residences.”
The bouquet included a handwritten card, “In loving and devoted memory, Charles Rex.”
The Imperial Crown, and the monarch’s orb and scepter rested atop the royal standard, which covered the casket.