The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral draws world leaders, thousands of mourners

Britain hosts grand ceremonies to honor its longest-reigning monarch.

Mourners watch the car carrying Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as it nears St. George's Chapel in Windsor on Monday after traveling from London, where a state funeral included about 2,000 people. The queen died on September 8 at age 96. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Britain and the world said a final goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II at a state funeral Monday that drew presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers — and crowds who lined the streets of London to honor a monarch whose 70-year reign defined an age.

In a country known for public celebrations, the first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s was filled with spectacle: Ahead of the service, a bell tolled 96 times — once a minute for each year of Elizabeth’s life. Then, 142 Royal Navy sailors used ropes to draw the gun carriage carrying her flag-draped coffin to Westminster Abbey before pallbearers carried it inside the church. About 2,000 people, including President Joe Biden and other world leaders, gathered to mourn her.

The funeral included many symbols of the monarchy: The coffin was draped with the flag called the Royal Standard and atop it sat the Imperial State Crown, sparkling with almost 3,000 diamonds, and the sovereign’s orb and scepter.

But it was also personal: The coffin was followed into the church by generations of Elizabeth’s descendants, including King Charles III, heir to the throne Prince William and 9-year-old George, 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 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,” the dean of the medieval abbey, David Hoyle, told the mourners, as the funeral opened.

The service drew to a close with two minutes of silence observed across the United Kingdom, after which the attendees sang the national anthem, now titled “God Save the King.”

Monday was declared a public holiday in honor of Elizabeth, who died September 8 — and hundreds of thousands of people descended on central London to take part in the historic moment. They jammed the sidewalks to watch the coffin make its way through the streets of the capital after the service.

Mark Elliott, a 53-year-old who traveled to London from northern England with his wife and two children to watch the procession, got up at 1:30 a.m. to get a good viewing location near the palace.

“I know we don’t know the queen, but she’s been our head of state for 70 years, you feel as though you know her, you feel as though she’s part of the family. It is kind of moving,” he said.

More people lined the route the procession took from the capital to Windsor Castle, and many threw flowers at the convoy as it passed. Millions more people tuned into the funeral live on television, and crowds flocked to parks and public spaces across the United Kingdom to watch it on screens.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in his sermon at the funeral that “few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen” for Elizabeth.

Later, family, friends and those who worked for the queen gathered for a committal ceremony in St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Her coffin was then lowered into the royal vault through an opening in the chapel’s floor. She will later be laid to rest with her husband, father, mother and sister at a private family service.

To our commenters

A reminder from the KidsPost team: Our stories are geared to 7- to 13-year-olds. We welcome discussion from readers of all ages, but please follow our community rules and make comments appropriate for that age group.