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UK falls silent for funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

LONDON — The United Kingdom fell silent Monday as the nation bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II.

At an extraordinary funeral service in London’s Westminster Abbey attended by royalty, world leaders, foreign dignitaries and members of the British public, tributes were paid to the woman who ruled the United Kingdom for an unprecedented seven decades, and whose reign spanned the era of Winston Churchill to the present day.

The hundreds assembled at the gothic abbey — the site of the queen’s own 1953 coronation as well as her 1947 marriage to Prince Philip — heard readings from the Common Book of Prayer, the traditional prayer book of the Anglican Church, and sang hymns including “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Has Ended,” and “The Lord Is My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want.”

As Elizabeth’s son, King Charles III, listened on, mourners including U.S. President Joe Biden and French leader Emmanuel Macron heard from David Hoyle, the dean of Westminster, as he paid tribute to the queen’s “lifelong sense of duty and dedication.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the leader of the Church of England, emphasized the queen’s Christian faith and recalled her own words from decades before.

“Her majesty famously declared on her 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth,” he told those assembled. “Rarely has such a promise been so well kept.”

And he said of the queen: “People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.”

Few leaders, Welby noted, “receive the outpouring of love that we have seen,” and, recalling the queen’s address to the nation at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, he concluded: “We will meet again.”

Patricia Scotland, the secretary general of the commonwealth of nations, and U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss — appointed by the queen just two days before the monarch’s death — read biblical verses from Corinthians and John respectively.

As the funeral service concluded, Britons — granted the day off work and school at the conclusion of a 10-day period of national mourning — paused for a nationwide two minutes’ silence. The U.K.’s national anthem, its words now altered to God Save The King, then rang out from the abbey.

A procession led by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Britain’s armed forces, Northern Ireland’s police service, and workers from the country’s National Health Service, then followed, with the queen’s coffin making its way through the streets of the U.K. capital and passing the famous Buckingham Palace balcony from which the queen greeted the nation many times during her long life.

The coffin travelled by royal hearse to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, just outside London, where a more low-key committal service took place, attended by members of the royal family and the queen’s staff.

Amid hymns and readings, the dean of Windsor, David Connell, hailed the queen’s “unstinting service to the nation, the Commonwealth and the wider world” as well as her “kindness, concern and reassuring care for her family and friends and neighbors.”

“In the midst of our rapidly changing and frequently troubled world, her calm and dignified presence has given us confidence to face the future, as she did, with courage and with hope,” he said.

In some of the final moments of public ceremony, the close of the committal service saw the so-called instruments of state — the imperial state crown, the orb and the scepter — removed from atop the queen’s coffin. All were given to the monarch at the time of her coronation.

The lord chamberlain — a role currently held by former spy chief Andrew Parker — ceremonially “broke” his wand of office and placed it on the coffin, signaling the end of his own service to the queen.

Later on Monday, the queen’s remains are to be interred in a private ceremony alongside those of Prince Philip in the King George VI Memorial Chapel. It is the final resting place too of her father and mother.

This story has been updated throughout the day.

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