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COMMENTS DAILY MAIL: Final curtain draws near for this gripping drama

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In both death and life, Queen Elizabeth II has displayed a unique ability to bind our sometimes rugged nation together.

The ten days since her death have brought out the very best in the royal family and in the country.

They have emphasized our shared sense of history. They have showcased Britain’s remarkable gift for pomp and circumstance.

And above all, they have served as a much-needed reminder that in these islands, much more unites us than divides us.

The sheer scale of the ceremonial operation since last Thursday is awe-inspiring.

Inevitably there have been one or two minor hiccups – a faulty pen here, a queuing problem there. But overall it was a triumph of the organization.

From Balmoral to St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh to RAF Northolt and Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, the Queen’s casket has been carried with immense dignity.

In both death and life, Queen Elizabeth II has displayed a unique ability to bind our sometimes rugged nation together. The ten days since her death have brought out the very best in the royal family and in the country

Yesterday’s vigil at the catafalque by her four children was particularly moving and will be reflected today in an equally emotionally silent tribute by all eight of her grandchildren.

Meanwhile, the willingness of her subjects to stand in line by the hundreds of thousands for up to 14 hours to see her lying in state shows the love and esteem they had for her.

For King Charles, grief and loss went hand in hand with a hectic schedule of traveling across the country to receive condolences and cement his position as monarch of the United Kingdom.

And he has encouraged the reconciliation of his estranged sons (for now at least), something that would have given his mother immense satisfaction.

But in many ways, it was the royal wives whose role in this poignant national drama was most notable.

Yesterday's vigil at the catafalque by her four children was particularly moving and will be reflected today in an equally emotionally silent tribute by all eight of her grandchildren

Yesterday’s vigil at the catafalque by her four children was particularly moving and will be reflected today in an equally emotionally silent tribute by all eight of her grandchildren

Princess Anne, devoted daughter and most hardworking of all members of the royal family, spent the past few hours at her mother’s bedside in Balmoral, with her every sad step of her final journey.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who had become very close to the late Queen in recent years, moved gracefully among the crowd of well-wishers, despite finding it difficult to hide her apparent pain.

Camilla, the queen consort, was a tower of strength for Charles. The new Princess of Wales, with her signature poise, has equally provided constant support and comfort to her own husband. They all played their part to perfection.

So now we look forward to Monday and the biggest state affair, certainly since the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965 and probably Queen Victoria’s more than 120 years ago.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who had become very close to the late Queen in recent years, moved gracefully among the crowd of well-wishers, despite finding it difficult to hide her apparent pain.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who had become very close to the late Queen in recent years, moved gracefully among the crowd of well-wishers, despite finding it difficult to hide her apparent pain.

Crowned heads from Bhutan to Belgium will join presidents and prime ministers, courtiers and key figures in a 2,000-strong congregation at Westminster Abbey.

The service will be followed by the funeral with her parents and sister Margaret in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, Windsor. Prince Philip’s coffin, which is currently in the royal vault in St. George’s Chapel, will be buried next to her.

Over 70 tumultuous years, the Queen has guided the monarchy through perilous times with skill and fortitude, evoking respect and affection in equal measure.

Even the heavens seem to have marked her passing, with a double rainbow appearing over Buckingham Palace and a celestial fireball raging across the northern sky.

There are, of course, prosaic scientific explanations. But there is no doubt that these phenomena contributed to the grandeur and mystique of the occasion.

They are reminiscent of Calpurnia’s words in Julius Caesar: ‘When beggars die, there are no comets to be seen. The heavens themselves blaze the death of princes.’ Would she have been right?

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