By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Thousands of mourners ranging from world leaders to health care workers turned out at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday to bid Queen Elizabeth II farewell during her funeral.
US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, all of the living former British prime ministers as well as European royalty attended the the funeral.
In Japan, whose Emperor Naruhito attended the funeral, several people sipped beer and watched the service at The Aldgate British pub in Tokyo’s fashionable Shibuya district.
This is the first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s. Ahead of the funeral 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 bore it inside the church, where around 2,000 made up of kings, queens, princes and princess.
The coffin was draped with the Royal Standard and atop it sat the Imperial State Crown, sparkling with almost 3,000 diamonds, and the sovereign’s orb and scepter.
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 Charles.
Monday was declared a public holiday in honor of Elizabeth, who died Sept. 8 and hundreds of thousands of people descended on central London to partake in the historic moment.
They jammed the sidewalks to watch the coffin wend its way through the streets of the capital after the service. As the procession passed Buckingham Palace, the queen’s official residence in the city, staff stood outside, some bowing and curtseying
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in his sermon that “few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen” for Elizabeth.
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.”