Queen funeral: Final farewell for late monarch at Windsor Castle had touches of Scottish symbolism
It was the last farewell.
A journey that began with the Queen's passing 11 days beforehand at Balmoral, in the rugged Scottish landscape, came to an end in the genteel Berkshire town on the banks of the river Thames on Monday.
The Queen’s final resting place was the royal vault of St George’s Chapel within the battlements of Windsor Castle, her home and sanctuary for most of her 70-year reign.
The committal service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth took place after the two-hour processional drive to Windsor, westwards through the flower-strewn streets of London.
The roads were lined for miles with people paying their respects, as they had been on that odyssey from Aberdeenshire to Edinburgh on the Sunday after her death.
The Long Walk, the stretched avenue leading to Windsor Castle, was packed with mourners, matching the dignified grandeur of the Royal Mile the week before.
Touches of Caledonian romanticism seeped through to England as the massed pipes and drums played the Skye Boat Song.
The crowds, who fell silent as the state hearse entered the Long Walk in Windsor then broke out into applause as the end of the funeral procession passed by.
Retired teacher Susan Luppetti, 72, who came from her home in Somerset for the funeral, shared the feelings of many.
She said: “I did not expect it to be so emotional when it went past.
“What surprised me is how everyone went silent. It felt very personal and it did not feel like a state funeral at all.”
In many ways it was a lot more personal.
The Queen’s personal friends, such as Scottish racing driving legend Sir Jackie Stewart, were there.
The Queen’s beloved corgis, Muick and Sandy, and Emma, the Queen’s Fell Pony, greeted the procession, standing on grass in a gap in the floral tributes along the Long Walk.
The coffin was borne into St George’s Chapel past beds of flowers made up of thousands of bouquets brought to the castle by members of the public.
The thousand-year-old keep, built by William the Conqueror, is the same vintage as Westminster Hall where people queued in these incredible, long lines for hours on end for the Queen’s lying in state over four days.
St George’s Chapel is well used to laughter and tears. It has been the venue for royal weddings, Prince Harry and Meghan were married there, and it was a place of comfort for the monarch when parts of her beloved castle were burnt down in the 1992 blaze.
It has seen many funerals and burials. It is the final resting place for ten kings, but on Monday the Queen became the first female sovereign to be buried there.
In the morning Westminster Abbey had to host the first state funeral since 1760 because of the vast number of world leaders in attendance.
But St George’s chapel, with a capacity of 800 and an inner sanctum beyond the quire, provided a more intimate, final farewell.
The majority of those attending were members of her Majesty’s Household past and present, including personal staff who worked on the private estates.
Beyond the rood screen, separating the main congregation from the choir, the grieving royal family took their positions.
The King sat in the self same seat as his mother had taken during her lonely attendance at Prince Philip’s funeral in April last year while Covid stalked her kingdom and they nursed their party hangovers in Downing Street.
After a private service in the smaller King George VI Memorial chapel on Monday evening, the late monarch was to be re-united with her beloved husband and laid next to her parents, King George VI, her mother Queen Mary and her late sister Princess Margaret.
The committal service, conducted by the Right Reverend David Conner, began at 4pm with Psalm 121 – “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills”.
Much of the music played before and during the service was arranged by William Henry Harris, the late organist at St George’s who taught the Queen to play piano as a child.
Prayers were read by the Reverend Kenneth MacKenzie, the minister of Crathie Kirk in Balmoral and her other domestic clerics, the Rector of Sandringham and the Chaplain of the Royal Chapel, Windsor Great Park.
After prayers and readings there was a solemn moment when the crown jeweller removed first the sceptre and orb and then the imperial crown from the Queen’s coffin.
In silence the Dean of Windsor placed the crown on the chapel altar, completing a circle from the coronation of 1953 when it was taken from the high altar at Westminster Cathedral and put upon her head.
The symbolism continued to the end as the Queen’s Company Camp Colour of the Grenadier Guards was laid on the coffin by her son and heir.
The Lord Chamberlain broke his wand of office and placed it on the coffin and the Queen’s Styles and Titles were read.
Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault.
Before the congregation rose to sing “God Save the King” in the distance, a bagpipe lament sounded.
Pipe Major Paul Burns,the Queen’s Piper, played A Salute to the Royal Fendersmith.
The strains of the pìob mhòr, echoing through the cloisters of Windsor Castle, signalled a close to the Second Elizabethan age and the moment the curtain fell on Britain’s long, post-war history.
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