The life of Britain’s longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has been celebrated in a majestic funeral ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
The queen’s casket was draped with the royal standard and bore a wreath of myrtle from the same plant she wore in her bridal bouquet.
Among the flowers was a simple card from her son, King Charles III, which read, “In loving and devoted memory, Charles R.” The ‘R’ stands for Rex or King.
More than 100 heads of state and government from around the world were among the more than 2,000 members of the congregation, dressed in black and military attire.
Among them were members of the royal family, who said goodbye not only to a monarch, but also to someone close to their heart and the head of their family.
Here,The independent explores the ceremony and some of the unique traditions in Her Majesty’s final farewell.
In many ways, the Queen’s state funeral is a military funeral. After all, she was the head of the armed forces.
Royal Navy sailors hauled the two-and-a-half-ton State Ceremonial Gun Carriage carrying the Queen’s Coffin from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey. Others marched behind the carriage with ropes to act as a brake.
This has been a tradition since Queen Victoria’s state funeral in 1901. Before that time, the service was drawn by horses, but the cold of that day raised the animals and Captain Prince Louis of Battenberg was concerned about the safety of the coffin. .
Prince Louis therefore approached Edward VII, the new king, and suggested that his men intervene to avoid further complications. Thus a tradition was born.
The Sovereign’s Guard has since white-drawn the carriages of former monarchs and other prominent figures in British history. Ninety-eight of them performed the task on Monday, followed by another 40 in their place behind to act as a brake, also holding a white rope.
The coach is a field gun carriage that has been in the care of the Royal Navy since 1901, when it was withdrawn from active service for Queen Victoria’s funeral. It was previously used for the funerals of King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI, Winston Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten.
Draped in the royal standard, on the queen’s coffin also tie the state instruments – the imperial state crown on a velvet cushion, the orb and the scepter.
The golden sphere, surmounted by a cross, symbolizes Christianity and the scepter is a symbol of honesty and justice.
At the request of the king the wreath on the coffin contains rosemary, english oak and myrtle cut from a plant grown from myrtle in the queen’s bridal bouquet.
It also features flowers in shades of gold, pink and deep burgundy, with white accents, cut from the gardens of royal residences, Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Highgrove House.
Rosemary symbolizes remembrance, myrtle is the ancient symbol of a happy marriage and English oak symbolizes the power of love. Also at the request of the king, the wreath is made in a sustainable way, in a nest of English moss and oak branches.
Prior to the service, Westminster Abbey’s tenor bell was tiled every minute for 96 minutes, marking the years of Queen Elizabeth II’s life. It is the largest of the abbey’s ten bells and is traditionally rung on the death of a member of the royal family.
The royal family entered the abbey behind the coffin, which was carried by soldiers of the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, of which the late Queen was a company commander.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte walked behind the Queen’s coffin between their parents. The Prince of Wales is the heir apparent, his son Prince George is second in line and his daughter Princess Charlotte is third in line.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivered the sermon Monday.
“Her Majesty famously declared on her 21st birthday that her whole life would be devoted to serving the nation and the commonwealth, rarely has such a promise been so well kept,” he told the congregation. “Few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen.”