The United Kingdom bade farewell to Queen Elizabeth II at a state funeral service today in London’s Westminster Abbey that reflected her deep Christian faith as well as the diversity of the modern nation and the Commonwealth.
Some 2,000 guests attended the service, including such heads of state as President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand as well as the presidents of India and South Africa. Members of Europe’s and Japan’s royal families also attended.
The congregation also included “those who made extraordinary contributions to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and have volunteered in their local communities,” according to the Royal Family’s website.
Led by the Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, the readings, psalms and prayers recalled and gave thanks for the queen’s record 70-year reign. Elizabeth died on Sept. 8 at the age of 96. The order of service is here.
The queen’s coffin, draped in the Royal Standard, was surmounted by a wreath of flowers, the state crown, orb and scepter and a handwritten note, reading “In loving and devoted memory. Charles R[ex],” from her son, now King Charles III.
Prime Minister Liz Truss and Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland read the lessons, which included a passage from John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in his sermon, said the queen “touched a multitude of lives,” and described her as “joyful.” Her personal faith reflected the “expectation of hope,” as “Christ rose from the dead and offers life to all.”
He noted that she said, “we will meet again” in her broadcast during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. While “we will all face the merciful judgment of God,” he said, the queen’s example was “service in life; hope in death.”
Paying tribute to the queen’s long dedication to service of country and the Commonwealth, Welby said, “Those who served will be long remembered when those who cling to power and privileges will be long forgotten.”
The hymns during the service sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey included “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord is Ended,” “Loves Divine, All Loves Excelling,” and “The Lord’s My Shepherd.” Part of Psalm 42, “Like as the Hart,” was set to music by Master of the King’s Music Judith Weir, commissioned for the service.
At the end of the service, the Queen’s Piper, standing in a gallery above the sanctuary, played “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep.”
The queen’s coffin then rode in a long procession of military pageantry down the Mall to Buckingham Palace, then to St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, where Dean of Windsor David Conner conducted the service of committal.
Signifying the transition to a new sovereign, the imperial state crown, orb and scepter were removed from the queen’s coffin and placed on the altar before the coffin was lowered into the royal vault. The closing hymn was “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation.”