World leaders gathered in London on Monday morning to bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II, who died at age 96 on Sept. 8. Following 10 days of mourning, U.K.’s longest-reigning monarch was officially laid to rest during a state funeral that included King Charles III, the British royal family, President Joe Biden, and French president Emmanuel Macron.
David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, presided over the service, which was held in London’s Westminster Abbey. At the beginning of his address, Hoyle noted that the historic building is the same as where the monarch married Prince Philip in 1947 and became queen in 1953.
“Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the nation, from the Commonwealth and from the nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service,” Hoyle told the mourners, recalling the Queen’s “unswerving commitment to a high calling over so many years.”
“With admiration we remember her lifelong sense of duty,” he continued. “With affection, we recall her love for her family and her commitment to the causes she held dear. Now, in silence, let us in our hearts and minds remember our many reasons for thanksgiving.”
The funeral service included several readings. Baroness Scotland, secretary general of the Commonwealth, read the First Lesson from Corinthians 15, while British prime minister Liz Truss read the Second Lesson from John 14. The choir sang a Psalm, composed by Judith Weir, the Master of The King’s Music, specifically for the service.
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, gave the funeral sermon, noting that “few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.” He reflected on the Queen’s life of service and devotion to the church before recalling how the Queen comforted the nation during the pandemic with a speech that included the words “we will meet again.”
“We will all face the merciful judgement of God: we can all share the Queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership,” Welby said. “Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen’s example, and inspiration of trust and faith in God, can with her say: ‘We will meet again.'”
A series of prayers were held during the service in honor of Queen Elizabeth. “Let us give thanks for Queen Elizabeth’s commitment to the Commonwealth throughout her reign, for her service and dedication to its peoples, and for the rich bonds of unity and mutual support she sustained,” noted Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster.
The service concluded with two minutes of silence, observed throughout the U.K., before the Queen’s coffin began its procession out of Westminster Abbey to Windsor Castle.
Among the 2,000 mourners at the funeral were several former British Prime ministers, including John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson. Other world leaders included President Joe Biden, Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, Japanese emperor Naruhito, and Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska.
A select handful of celebrities were also in attendance, including Sandra Oh, who paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth as a member of the Order of Canada, and Bear Grylls, who represented the Scouts in his role as the United Kingdom’s Chief Scout.
Members of the British royal family sat front and center for the service. King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort; Anne, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence; Andrew, the Duke of York; Edward, the Earl of Wessex and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex comprised the front row. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Megan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex; Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi; Lady Louise Windsor; and James, Viscount Severn filled the second row. Prince William and Princess Catherine, Prince and Princess of Wales, also sat near the front with their children George and Charlotte.
Queen Elizabeth II died earlier this month at Balmoral, her home in Scotland. Born to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on April 21, 1926, Elizabeth II was not predestined to take the throne, and she spent her first decade in a relatively minor role in the royal family. The monarch officially ascended to the throne in February 1952, when her father died. The coronation occurred on June 2, 1953; it was the first televised coronation ceremony.
In June 2022, Queen Elizabeth became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, which marked 70 years in service. While public opinion of the Queen varied over the decades, she remained a consistent feature in the lives of millions around the world, both in the U.K. and throughout the Commonwealth. She served alongside 15 prime ministers, including Winston Churchill, Harold Wilson, and Margaret Thatcher, and met 13 U.S. presidents beginning with Harry Truman in 1951 during her life.
The last state funeral for a British monarch was held for King George VI in 1952.