The Queen’s Funeral Represents A Look Back In Memory And Ahead In Transition

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Amid their shared grief on Monday when the royal family de funeral for Queen Elizabeththere was also a sense of continuity and transition for the institution to which she was so committed during her 70-year reign.

Deeply personal and symbolic moments came together with the splendor and carefully choreographed military ceremony of a state funeral like few have seen.

“What struck me was the amount of emotion on the faces of members of the royal family,” Toronto-based royal author and historian Carolyn Harris said in an interview.

It was clear that this was both a great personal loss for the new King Charles III and a moment of transition for him.

“He has led the mourning of Queen Elizabeth II and now there will be more oversight of the new king and his role as sovereign.”

At the heart of the funeral – one based on the traditional Anglican funeral service – was a desire to honor and remember Britain’s longest serving monarch, who died on September 8 at the age of 96 at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.

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“Basically, today was about her and what she did,” Craig Prescott, a constitutional law expert at Bangor University in Wales, said in an interview.

But as much as that showed – whether through reference to her deep devotion to duty and Christian faith, or more personal references that emerged during moments like the skirl of a lone bagpiper playing a lament from a Westminster Abbey balcony – there were unmistakable signs that one reign had ended and another had begun.

“I think the most poignant part for me was actually at the service when the crown, orb and scepter were removed from the chest,” Prescott said.

“I think it was pierced, drawing a clear line that I suppose in a way…at that point the queen was no longer queen.”

The orb and scepter will be removed from Queen Elizabeth’s casket Monday during a service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England. (Jonathan Brady/The Associated Press)

State funerals are rare – the last in the UK was for Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, in 1965.

Only those a little over 70 may remember the last state funeral for a monarch – for the Queen’s father, King George VI, in 1952. And before that, the TV cameras stopped at the door (in that case, at the smaller St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where Monday’s commitment service was held).

But not today, as cameras broadcast the funeral, military procession and service around the world, showing that a royal funeral has changed a lot from how previous monarchs were once remembered at the end of their reign.

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Judith Rowbotham, a social and cultural scholar and visiting professor of research at the University of Plymouth in southwest England, couldn’t help but think back to William IV’s funeral in 1837, when a few observers “said that one thing was clear that the Britons weren’t showing off, it was chaos and only Europeans were showing off.”

“Well, Victoria changed that,” Rowbotham said, recalling the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901, a soldier’s daughter who wanted a soldier’s funeral.

Queen Elizabeth “has done the same, and it’s an interesting balance,” Rowbotham said. “It breathes heritage, tradition, all those symbols, but it’s also been so modern. It’s been televised all over. It’s been reported on social media.”

So, Rowbotham suggested, “on the one hand you can emphasize how traditional it has been with the different dimensions…done with splendor, ceremony…everything like that, but also how it’s modernized.”

Much of the pomp and circumstance came from a military procession of little precedent, full of representatives from Commonwealth countries and with four Mounties in the lead.

Queen Elizabeth, pictured on October 15, 2020, near Salisbury, England, was remembered for her deep devotion to her role and her Christian faith at her funeral Monday. (Ben Stansall/Getty Images)

“There’s never been a funeral procession like this,” Rowbotham said.

“Because [the Queen] was so determined – the Commonwealth was so important to her… They were there because she wanted them to be a part of things – so you saw the Mounties, and what more impressive procession head could you get?”

As much as grief showed on Monday, Rowbotham also found feelings of hope and positivity, especially in the music.

“At the abbey… the choices were uplifting rather than gloomy, so you had the hymns the congregation could join.”

They were also very personal to the Queen.

“There were hymns that were also there at the Queen’s coronation,” said Harris, who also noted that flowers on the coffin were the same as flowers that were at her wedding to Prince Philip at the same historic site in 1947.

“So we see some very significant parallels to these other very important milestones in the Queen’s life that took place at Westminster Abbey.”

As much as Monday was a time to remember, mourn and honor the Queen, it was also a time to look to the future.

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“The death of the Queen has brought together the royal family, different generations, the different branches of the family,” Harris said. “So the monarchy’s role as a force for unity was very much emphasized, by the royal family coming together, the crowned heads of Europe and also the wider public.”

For some in the audience, that meant hundreds of thousands had to queue for the state imposition leading up to the funeral — along with the crowds that gathered in London and Windsor Monday and dotted along roads for a passing glimpse of the processions. to catch.

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“What we saw today, the size of the crowd, the fact that the whole world was there, I think was a testament to what the Queen has done [since the late 1990s]slowly, surely, steadfastly just bringing the monarchy up to date in its current form,” Prescott said.

Harris said the sheer number of people who lined up will also be remembered.

“There were so many people who not only wanted to say goodbye to the Queen, but also wanted to be part of a historic moment, [because] it’s unlikely we’ll see another 70-year reign.”

In honor of their Gan-Gan

Prince George and Princess Charlotte walk Monday after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral at Westminster Abbey. (Hannah Mckay/The Associated Press)

For much of their young lives, glimpses of Prince George and Princess Charlotte have been limited to carefully chosen family photos released to mark their birthday.

But on Monday, the two eldest children of Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales, sat in the front row for history to unfold.

The appearance of George (9) and Charlotte (7) was a surprise to Rowbotham.

“I’m sure a lot of thought went into it, but they were both old enough,” she said. “They loved their great-grandmother, their Gan-Gan, as George called her, and to have lost her at that age is actually old enough to remember.”

Prescott saw George and Charlotte’s appearance as “saying this is the future of the monarchy and saying” [it on] the biggest stage to date.”

“You had Charles… and then William and George… sat next to each other. I think there was a clear sign that he’s the king waiting, and then there’s George and Charlotte too.”

From left, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex; Princess Charlotte; Kate, Princess of Wales; Prince George; and Prince William sit Monday during the service for Queen Elizabeth in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. (Victoria Jones/The Associated Press)

Prescott was also surprised to see George and Charlotte “because William and Catherine are generally very careful about when the kids are seen in the public eye thus far.”

But apparently, Prescott said, it’s “a clear indication that they want to signal the future of the monarchy as much as possible.”

Harris said the children symbolized that the funeral was a family affair, but also reflected continuity for generations to come.

“The Queen was not only sovereign, but also mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.”

Lead the way

Four members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police take part in the military procession after the Queen’s funeral on Monday. (Mike Egerton/Pool/Reuters)

As the military procession escorted the Queen’s casket from Westminster Abbey, it was led by the renowned red serge of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Prescott said it felt natural to see the four Mounties there.

“The Queen was passionate about the Commonwealth. She visited Canada more than any other” [Commonwealth] country,” he said.

“It makes perfect sense that Canada played a leading role, a real signal.”

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The town of Windsor, England, site of the famous castle and numerous royal processions, has long been preparing for the day of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. When it arrived, some said it felt like burying a member of their own family.

There was also something more personal for the Queen to see.

“The RCMP rode horses that were donated to the Queen, so we see both the Queen’s love for Canada and her love for horses there,” said Harris.

to quote generously

“Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we come from all over the country, from the Commonwealth and from the nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service, and in certain confidence to commit it to the mercy of God our maker and redeemer.”

– David Hoyle, the Dean of Westminster, as he began the funeral service for Queen Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

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