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The funeral of Elizabeth II, ‘A life dedicated to serving the Nation’

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Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin was carried on the shoulders by a Royal Guard picket of honor inside Westminster Abbey. Thus began the solemn state funeral of the sovereign who reigned for 70 years, more than anyone else, on the throne of the United Kingdom and who died on 8 September at 96 years of age.

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The coffin was also followed along the central nave inside the abbey by the princes George and Charlotte, great-grandchildren of the sovereign, who joined with Queen Camilla and the other consorts in the procession – behind King Charles, his brothers and sons – only inside the church. Reverend David Hoyle opened the liturgy after the singing of a first solemn hymn, recalling with his voice initially cracked with emotion the symbolic value of Westminster Abbey in the long life of Elizabeth II: which here was united in marriage with the prince Filippo still as hereditary princess in 1947 (inaugurating what would have been a union that lasted 73 years); and again here she was solemnly crowned queen in June 1953, just over a year after taking the 26-year-old British throne upon the death of her father, King George VI: the sovereign linked with Winston Churchill to victory in World War II

It is entrusted to the leaders of the Anglican Church, the Christian confession of which Elizabeth II was faithful and nominally head for 70 years of reign, the office of the solemn funeral rite for the queen, in Westminster Abbey. The reverend David Hoyle, rector of the abbey, presides over the liturgy, while the sermon is entrusted to the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, primate of the Church of England. There will also be recitation of prayers in an ecumenical key by dignitaries of other Christian denominations, starting with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. In the front row there is no shortage of religious representatives of other faiths present in the United Kingdom: from Islam to Judaism, from Hinduism to Buddhism

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Elizabeth II “has dedicated her life to serving the nation and the Commonwealth,” as she promised on her 21st birthday radio show. This was stated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, primate of the Church of England, in his sermon during the solemn liturgy at Westminster Abbey in memory of the late queen. Welby also recalled the ‘We’ll Meet Again’ that the sovereign sent in a message to her subjects in the midst of the lockdown for the Covid pandemic, reiterating it now in the name of faith in the afterlife. Prior to her sermon, British Prime Minister Liz Truss had read a passage from the Gospel of John about the promise made by Jesus Christ to his disciples of a place in heaven.

Deep emotion at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth also among the benches of the Royal Family: while reading a passage from the writing entrusted to Baroness Patricia Scotland, British high diplomat and Commonwealth secretary general, we saw Prince Edward, fourth child of the sovereign, blatantly wipe a few tears from his eyes with a white handkerchief. Edoardo sits in the very first row, beside the bier on which his mother’s coffin rests, next to King Charles with his wife Camilla; to Princess Anna, second royal child with her husband Tim Laurence; and his wife Sophie ..

Reverend David Hoyle’s blessing of the assembly closed the solemn religious rite of Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral in Westminster Abbey. A blast of trumpets followed, then two minutes of silence in memory of the sovereign observed in the church, in London and throughout the Kingdom and the singing of the British national anthem: in the revised and corrected version of God Save the King, in honor of the new King Charles III. The sound of a bagpipe, followed by the notes of the organ of the historic abbey, then accompanied the exit in the procession of the celebrants and concelebrants: including the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who had recited before the liturgical epilogue a prayer in suffrage of the soul “of our sister Elizabeth”, ecalling out his “sure hope in the resurrection”, and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols. The coffin was then picked up on the shoulder by a Royal Guard picket of honor followed along the aisle with a cadenced and solemn step by Charles II and the other royals arranged according to the ceremonial order. A further coffin procession is now planned in the heart of London to Wellington Arch. This will be followed by a transfer by car to Windsor Castle, outside the British capital, burial site.

The funeral procession started from Westminster Hall and traveled a few tens of meters to accompany the coffin of the sovereign lying on a Victorian-era cannon carriage at Westminster Abbey where the solemn liturgy is held with the leaders and dignitaries arriving from all over the world. King Charles and the other Windsors, Anna, Edoardo and Andrea, followed by William and Harry, after leaving Buckingham Palace in their car, are leaving on foot at the tolling of the bells from Westminster Hall to follow the coffin. The princes George and Charlotte, unlike what was anticipated by the media, are already in church with the queen and the princesses consorts.

The solemn state funeral of Queen Elizabeth it could become the most watched TV show of all time, with 4.1 billion viewers. These are estimates all to be confirmed circulated in these days on the British tabloids and relaunched today by the Daily Mail.

King Charles III expressed thanks last night, also on behalf of the queen consort Camilla, for the acts of homage and the testimonies of “respect for the spirit of service of my dear mother” manifested in these 10 days in the 4 nations of the United Kingdom and in the world. “As we prepare for our last farewell – writes Charles in relation to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth and as the entrances to the funeral home of Westminster Hall are closing – I simply want to thank all the countless people who have been so much support and comfort to me and to my Family in this time of pain “.

And to parade in front of the coffin of the sovereign of a lifetime, who took leave of history on 8 September at the age of 96, 70 of which spent on the throne of the United Kingdom. A country that – although not without the conspicuous exception of those who do not love the monarchy – is sealing the long farewell to the daughter of George VI in the sign of tribute, emotion, memory. And a twilight silence to be observed compactly at the toll of Big Ben at eight in the evening.

The hour when the people’s greeting to His Majesty gives way to the first collective appointment of the official and solemn homage of the powerful of the Earth: about 500 dignitaries from all over the world to honor a woman who in 1952 wore the crown at the age of 26 on a planet where the leaders of the States were still all occupied by men, as recalled by the new queen consort Camilla: a woman who in the words of the moving London praise of American President Joe Biden helped to leave behind “a better world” .

Source: Ansa

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