There were thousands of people arriving early that day, to watch the procession of the Queen’s coffin being carried on a gun carriage wagon towed by 98 sailors* (men & women) along part of the route to Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel for her last resting place beside her husband the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. (1921- 2021)
Queen Elizabeth ll (1926 – 2022) had reigned over 70 years as Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 1952 – 2022. She had been steadfast and loved.
People from all walks of life lined the streets where the cortege would pass, some claiming their spots 24 hours before the event. There was an outpouring of gratitude and loyalty, sympathy and tearful goodbyes as the procession, led by 5 members of the Canadian RCMP passed by.
Over 2,000 uniformed men and women from all military support services were present. The coffin which rested upon a (3,000 lb) gun carriage, slowly advanced with Royal family members walking stately behind at 75 paces a minute; and with over 200 musicians and bagpipers playing the funeral march. The sight was grand and eventhough sad, provided a great stately event executed with perfect precision and yet a very solemn occasion. At times the exceedingly great crowd was completely silenced.
Kings, Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers and International leaders from around the world attended (Putin was not invited) and listened to a ceremonial funeral service and Gospel messages in Westminster Abbey, London.
Inside the Abbey the music was grand but the star of the show besides the deceased late Queen Elizabeth ll and all the ceremonial trappings of her funeral, was surely the teachings of her majesty’s Saviour, Example and Leader, Jesus Christ. Those invited quests who attended (over 2,000) clearly heard an invitation to the Gospel of comfort and peace and the celebration and promise of resurrection.
The Right Honourable the Baroness Scotland of Asthal KC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, reads the First Lesson.
NOW is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 20 – 26 and 53 – 58)
The Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reads the Second Lesson:
LET not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. (Gospel of John chapter 14, verses 1 – 9a)
Thanks be to God.
And after the singing of the beautiful hymns by the choir with all the dignitaries invited to join in and then after listening to the eulogy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, before the conclusion of the service, these words to those gathered and thinking surely of their own end, an encouragement to every believer of comfort and hope:
Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitation of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen. (John Donne 1572 – 1631)
And then at the conclusion, the Archbishop of Canterbury read from the Book of Common Prayer and gave this farewell blessing to all:
Go forth into the world in peace; Be of good courage, hold fast that which is good, render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted, support the weak, help the afflicted, honour all people, love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit; And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
For all the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus. Let them that have ears, hear what the Lord of life is saying to the people of the world.
God save our gracious King!
Long live our noble King!
God save the King!
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the King.
Thy choicest gifts in store
On him be pleased to pour,
Long may he reign.
May he defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the King.
JS September 20, 2022
Note: * Earlier processions had used horses to pull the gun carriage, but in 1901, in Windsor, during the funeral of the Queen Victoria, the weather had turned bitterly cold, snowy and slippery. As one of the splinter bars broke, the horses panicked and bolted, the coffin was jostled badly. The naval guards who lined the route were ordered to take control and safely guided the gun carriage with coffin to it destination. From then on this became a tradition that sailors would escort the coffin on the gun carriage at all future state funerals.
Picture: The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is pulled past Horse Guards Avenue following her funeral service in Westminster Abbey in central London Monday Sept. 19, 2022. (David Davies/Pool Photo via AP)