London celebrations

Farewell to the Queen: Emotional crowds line the streets of London and Windsor

LONDON/WINDSOR, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Vast crowds gathered in London and Windsor for Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral watched the grand procession in silence and awe on Monday, as some wept, others huddled together to support each other and some supported their children. to see “the making of history”.

In central London, where the funeral began, tens of thousands of people lined the streets around Westminster Abbey, The Mall – the elegant avenue leading to Buckingham Palace – and Hyde Park. Many had camped overnight or arrived in the early morning.

At the first sight of the Queen’s coffin being transported to Westminster Abbey, a hush fell over the crowd, who followed the funeral service on large television screens or from a radio broadcast by top -speakers.

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Many said the scale and pageantry of the funeral reflected how they felt and was a fitting farewell to the Queen, who died on September 8 at the age of 96. She had been on the throne for 70 years and most Britons have known no other monarch.

“I find it hard to put into words what we have just witnessed. It was truly special and memorable,” said Camilla Moore, 53, from Nottingham, after attending the funeral in London. “It was terribly sad. So, very sad. The end of an era.”

Chloe Jesson, 59, had traveled south from Manchester and said she found the ceremony moving.

“You felt the sadness for the country and his family. At the same time, it was a celebration of his life… I cried sometimes, but I was never sad, if that has any meaning,” she said.

“The best thing was that there were people from all walks of life, every race and religion and everyone came here to celebrate.”

After the service, the Queen’s coffin was carried on a gun carriage, escorted by her family and thousands of soldiers dressed in ceremonial finery, past her Buckingham Palace home and up Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, to the rhythm of the funeral marches.

From there he was placed on a hearse and driven to Windsor Castle, west London. The Queen will be buried at the castle, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel.

Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers lined the road, throwing flowers, cheering and cheering as she made her way from the city into the English countryside she loved so much.

John Ellis, 56, an army veteran, traveled from Portsmouth to Windsor and watched services on the Long Walk, the 3-mile-long avenue that sweeps across Windsor Castle through Windsor Great Park.

“It was an emotional day. I was struck by everyone’s respect,” he said.

“My own emotions were mixed, up and down… The most moving moment, I think, was when the hearse passed. I was really struck by the silence. Especially with all the bands there, I thought there was going to be a lot of music and fanfare and there was none, there was just silence.”

As the funeral procession approached the castle, even the Queen’s beloved pony and corgis were brought in to watch.

‘A LOVING AND CARING PERSON’

Colin Sanders, 61, a retired soldier who came to London from North Yorkshire to bid farewell to the Queen, struggled to hold back tears as he listened to the ceremony at The Mall.

“It was like we were there and some of it…it was very emotional,” he said.

“I knew I would be fine…She’s like your grandmother, a loving and caring person. She said she would serve the country and she did.”

It was the first British state funeral since 1965, when World War II leader Winston Churchill received the honour.

More than an hour before the start of the funeral, all central London viewing areas were declared full. Authorities had said they expected a million people to travel to the capital.

Melanie Odey, 60, a teacher, had been camping in a tent with her daughters and grandchildren after arriving on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be part of history, to pay tribute,” she said.

Some in the crowd were quiet and somber, dressed in black. Others wore bright colors and said they wanted to celebrate the Queen’s life.

Anna Kathryn from Richmond, South West London, had never met or seen the Queen. Still, she said her family felt they had a personal connection to her.

“It’s like we had a death in the family, we couldn’t miss that,” she said. “She was such a bright spot in everyone’s life and now it feels like that light has gone out.”

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Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and Stephen Farrell in London and Humza Jilani in Windsor Additional reporting by Richa Naidu, Peter Hobson and Natalie Grover in London, Alistair Smout in Windsor and Lindsay Dunsmuir in Edinburgh Writing by Alexandra Hudson Editing by Janet Lawrence, Frances Kerry and Rosalba O’Brien

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