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How the capital was transformed into a majestic display of pageantry for Queen’s funeral 

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It was Britain’s saddest day and yet perhaps the most uplifting spectacle of modern times.

The Queen was borne in magnificent style by thousands of her troops, her family, her most loyal subjects and the love of well-wishers.

On a grey day, sunshine burst through the clouds as Her Majesty took her final poignant journey through London.

The sunlight glinted off the Imperial State Crown and Orb atop her coffin on the State Gun Carriage, which glided through the streets pulled by 142 Royal Navy ratings.

For the billions watching in person and around the world, it was quite simply breathtaking as the mighty procession snaked along Whitehall, across Horse Guards Parade and then past Buckingham Palace for last time

The capital was transformed into a majestic display of pageantry as some 3,000 servicemen and women marched with military precision.

For the billions watching in person and around the world, it was quite simply breathtaking as the mighty procession snaked along Whitehall, across Horse Guards Parade and then past Buckingham Palace for last time.

The King was close to tears as he escorted his revered mother’s coffin, marching behind flanked by his siblings and his sons.

And for the thousands thronging the streets to bid their own farewells, the emotion was palpable.

Sometimes it was almost as if the nervous crowds did not know whether to clap or cry – and after the tears flowed, many burst into grateful applause once the cortege had passed by. The weight of the occasion got to everyone. At 10.30am, a white-gloved policeman collapsed and was carted off on a metal green military stretcher. A sailor fainted at 12.14pm and was helped away by a guardsman.

WESTMINSTER HALL

After years in the planning and countless rehearsals, the Queen’s loyal soldiers, sailors and airmen began their sad task at 10.35am.

Her Majesty’s coffin was carried from Westminster Hall, where it had been lying in state, by her most senior guardsmen, eight pallbearers from the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. Outside, the King and senior royals and courtiers awaited.

The capital – despite bulging with the presence of millions of mourners, world leaders, military, police and media – was eerily quiet.

Even the skies were silent, with no aeroplanes allowed to fly overhead to interrupt the ceremonies.

With deep concentration on their faces, the young guardsmen chosen for the honour inched the coffin out of the 900-year-old hall into Westminster Palace Yard and on to the State Gun Carriage.

The gun carriage has been in the care of the Royal Navy since it was borrowed from active service in 1901 for the funeral of Queen Victoria. It also carried Edward VII in 1910, George V in 1936, George VI in 1952, Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, and Lord Mountbatten in 1979.

Her Majesty¿s coffin was carried from Westminster Hall, where it had been lying in state, by her most senior guardsmen, eight pallbearers from the Queen¿s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

Her Majesty’s coffin was carried from Westminster Hall, where it had been lying in state, by her most senior guardsmen, eight pallbearers from the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

And then, with awesome precision, 142 Royal Navy ratings – many in the first few months of their service – simultaneously sidestepped into position at front and rear.

Each held a white rope attached to the historic gun carriage. Between them, they pulled the 2.8-ton carriage with apparent effortlessness, gracefully guiding Her Majesty’s coffin around Parliament Square and to the door of Westminster Abbey.

On top of the coffin was a stunning wreath of flowers and foliage from Clarence House and Highgrove, including rosemary for remembrance and myrtle for her happy marriage to Prince Philip. And a handwritten card, ‘In loving and devoted memory’, from her son and heir.

Wearing the sombre expression that never left his face yesterday, the King walked behind the Navy ratings with the Princess Royal to his left, followed by the Duke of York and then the youngest sibling the Earl of Wessex.

Behind them marched William, Prince of Wales, and his brother the Duke of Sussex.

PARLIAMENT SQUARE

After delivering the late monarch to Westminster Abbey for the service, the bearer party carried her out in equally grand style. Then the Abbey’s tenor bell heralded the start of the magnificent procession.

It set off in the sunshine to the mournful beat of the music of no fewer than seven military bands, one each for the seven sections of the procession.

Led by Armed Forces from the Commonwealth countries, it was spearheaded by the Mounties of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In 1936 Mounties had ridden at the coronation of the Queen’s father, George VI.

They turned into Parliament Square, under the steady gaze of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill ¿ the Queen¿s first Prime Minister ¿ and on to Whitehall

They turned into Parliament Square, under the steady gaze of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill – the Queen’s first Prime Minister – and on to Whitehall

The second section was the RAF, the next two were the Army, then came the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, followed by the gun carriage, and finally representatives of the George Cross foundations from Malta, the former Royal Ulster Constabulary, and four representatives from the NHS.

The coffin itself was flanked by The King’s Body Guards of The Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, The Yeomen of the Guard and the Royal Company of Archers with their eagle feathers in their caps.

Loyal members of the Queen’s household past and present who devoted their lives to her service also marched with her coffin, from senior courtiers such as private secretaries and the Master of the Household, to pages and stewards.

They turned into Parliament Square, under the steady gaze of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill – the Queen’s first Prime Minister – and on to Whitehall.

WHITEHALL

There was a hush from the 30-deep crowd in Whitehall as the funeral procession moved past the Cabinet War Rooms, the Cenotaph and Downing Street.

Some emerged from balconies and windows, clad in black, while those on the street craned their necks and clutched cameras as they awaited the chance to say goodbye to the late monarch.

As they passed the Cenotaph, where the Queen had laid countless wreaths to the nation’s fallen servicemen, she was honoured by contingents from the Royal British Legion, the King George’s Fund for Sailors, the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association.

As they passed the Cenotaph, where the Queen had laid countless wreaths to the nation¿s fallen servicemen, she was honoured by contingents from the Royal British Legion, the King George¿s Fund for Sailors, the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association

As they passed the Cenotaph, where the Queen had laid countless wreaths to the nation’s fallen servicemen, she was honoured by contingents from the Royal British Legion, the King George’s Fund for Sailors, the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association

Standards were lowered in salute by the old soldiers, who bowed their heads as the coffin went by.

The King, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex, all wearing their military uniforms, executed a smart salute in the direction of the memorial to British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in war.

Prince Harry and Prince Andrew, who were not permitted to wear their military uniforms after stepping back as working royals, bowed their heads.

Minute Guns were fired in Hyde Park by The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, and Big Ben tolled throughout the duration of the solemn procession.

The crowd in Whitehall broke into a chorus of ‘hip, hip, hooray’ and a round of applause as the procession passed.

HORSE GUARDS

The procession turned left through Horse Guards, the extraordinary stream of servicemen and women squeezing through the arches six abreast in perfect harmony.

They marched across Horse Guards Parade, where for decades the Queen marked her official birthday every June at Trooping the Colour, usually on horseback herself. The late monarch was devoted to the event, thoroughly enjoyed the music and knew the ceremony better than anybody.

By now, the mesmerising procession was one-and-a-quarter miles long and the sun was shining brightly on the colourful pageant.

THE MALL

In a magnificent sight that will long live in the memories of those who witnessed it, rounding the corner on to The Mall were the heads of the Armed Forces, the pursuivants and heralds of arms of England, Scotland and Wales, and a dizzying array of courtiers.

They included the Vice Chamberlain of the Household, the Comptroller of the Household, Treasurer of the Household and two of the Queen’s Gurkha Orderly Officers came first.

In a magnificent sight that will long live in the memories of those who witnessed it, rounding the corner on to The Mall were the heads of the Armed Forces, the pursuivants and heralds of arms of England, Scotland and Wales, and a dizzying array of courtiers

In a magnificent sight that will long live in the memories of those who witnessed it, rounding the corner on to The Mall were the heads of the Armed Forces, the pursuivants and heralds of arms of England, Scotland and Wales, and a dizzying array of courtiers

The Master of the Household, Keeper of the Privy Purse, private secretary to the Queen and Master of the Horse came next, followed by two of Her Majesty’s pages and Her Majesty’s palace steward. Also there was the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, who held the formidable task of arranging the whole event.

And then there was Apollo the drum horse, known as a ‘gentle giant’. Ridden by Lance Corporal Chris Diggle from the Band of the Household Cavalry, the nine-year-old horse stands at over 17 hands and weighs in at some three-quarters of a ton.

Carrying ceremonial sliver drums, the horse bears the rank of major, and as such is senior to all other animals of rank in the Army.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE

As the Queen was borne past Buckingham Palace, her main residence, for the final time, the staff lined up to bid her farewell. There was a ripple of bowing and curtseying as a great line of chefs, butlers and police officers stood in silence and respect.

Up Constitution Hill the procession continued. By now, the emotion of the occasion was showing on the faces of the King and Queen Consort who was following in a car behind with the Princess of Wales, Prince George, nine, and Princess Charlotte, seven.

Behind them, the Duchess of Sussex and the Countess of Wessex shared another car. Following them, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice waved and smiled from a third car.

The Queen's coffin, surrounded by the State Gun Carriage and members of the Royal Family proceed past Buckingham Palace

The Queen’s coffin, surrounded by the State Gun Carriage and members of the Royal Family proceed past Buckingham Palace 

Mourners lined the barriers all the way, waving and sometimes throwing red and white roses as the gun carriage passed. All the way from Westminster Abbey, the route was lined by the Armed Forces, who bowed or saluted.

WELLINGTON ARCH

The King appeared close to tears after a moving end to the procession at Wellington Arch. The mass of military bands and personnel slowly marched into the green space around the imposing monument.

The arch was an original entrance to Buckingham Palace, later becoming a victory arch commemorating the Duke of Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon.

The final act of pomp and pageantry involved the transfer of Her Majesty from the State Gun Carriage to the State Hearse in a 12-minute ceremony.

After nearly 1,700 troops filed into position next to the landmark at Hyde Park Corner, the coffin was pulled its final few yards through the arch by the Royal Navy ratings.

Looking on were senior royals led by the King and Queen Consort, who lined up on the right-hand side of the coffin.

George and Charlotte, the youngest members of the family present, both looked emotional at times.

The Queen's coffin was transferred from the gun carriage to the state hearse, at the Wellington Arch, on Hyde Park Corner, watched by King Charles III and other members of the Royal Family

The Queen’s coffin was transferred from the gun carriage to the state hearse, at the Wellington Arch, on Hyde Park Corner, watched by King Charles III and other members of the Royal Family

Charlotte, wearing a horseshoe brooch given to her as a gift by the late Queen, could be seen wiping her eye after climbing out of the car which had brought her to the arch with her brother and the Princess of Wales.

She and her brother stood with heads bowed and were comforted by their parents, who appeared to give words of reassurance.

The Grenadier Guards bearer party gently lifted the coffin on to their shoulders, as sailors pulled away the gun carriage. With impeccable precision, two members of the bearer party then marched to the front of the vehicle, turned and reached inside to adjust the Queen’s standard draped over the coffin.

The national anthem was played twice, at the beginning and then at the end of the ceremony – London’s final piece of pageantry of the sad occasion.

More than one million people are thought to have flocked to London from across Britain and around the world to mourn the death of the Queen

More than one million people are thought to have flocked to London from across Britain and around the world to mourn the death of the Queen

Then royals and troops alike saluted as the hearse drove slowly away. Cheers could be heard as it entered Hyde Park, where the public were gathered in their thousands.

The public – along the entire route – had come from all backgrounds and all corners of the globe, united in their respect and love for the late monarch.

More than one million people are thought to have flocked to London from across Britain and around the world to mourn the death of the Queen.

With almost military planning, some were armed with tents and food spent nights on the street to ensure they would be able to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty making her final journey.

For them, the decision to leave nothing to chance was fully vindicated, with viewing areas full shortly after breakfast time as mourners waited solemnly – and respectfully – for that all important sighting of the coffin.

Their determination to witness first hand a momentous day in British history was exemplified by Maureen Leanaghan, 83, who uses a wheelchair after knee and ankle replacement surgery.

She travelled from her home in Belfast with her daughter Catherine, 59, and granddaughters Marissa McKinley, 31, and Katrina Montgomery, 29, and slept out over the weekend.

Mounted detachment of the Royal Artillery standing guard as the Royal Hearse carrying the Queen's coffin left Wellington Arch yesterday

Mounted detachment of the Royal Artillery standing guard as the Royal Hearse carrying the Queen’s coffin left Wellington Arch yesterday

They had arrived in London on Saturday and spent that night on The Mall without a tent or sleeping bags.

Mrs Leanaghan said: ‘It was cold in the night but the St John Ambulance people gave us gold aluminium sheets to keep us warm. We bought a tent and sleeping bags on Sunday.

‘We came because we have so much respect for the Queen. Also, my husband died two weeks ago and I still haven’t got my head round that so my daughter suggested going to the Queen’s funeral may be of help to me.’

A self-confessed royal super fan travelled thousands of miles to pay her respects. Bernadette Christie, 68, from Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, came to London last week and said she spent ‘about my fifth’ night sleeping outdoors on The Mall on Sunday.

A veteran of several similar trips to England, including for William and Kate’s wedding, the Diamond Jubilee and the Platinum Jubilee, Mrs Christie, who was born in Wimbledon, south-west London, and emigrated to Canada as a child in 1957 with her parents, said: ‘The Queen was honour, the Queen was grace, she had a good faith and a great commitment to the country.

‘She didn’t ask for the job, but she took it on gracefully. She was an example to all women and to all leaders.’

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