I sat in the same spot for Diana’s funeral but the Queen’s was quite different, it went deeper

Many of us sat in the Abbey for more than two hours before it started. As with most funerals, people relieved the rising tension by chatting and observing one another. 

“Does President Biden mean to be standing on Winston Churchill’s floor plaque”? “I gather President Macron refused to travel in the bus provided”? The atmosphere was almost light-hearted.

Then the members of the Royal Family arrived – the Queen Consort moving with an attractive shyness as if she hoped no one would notice her; the Princess of Wales, veiled and graceful. Her children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the latter almost covered by her black hat, tried sweetly to look grown-up.

After the arrivals, suddenly there was silence. All that could be seen through the open West Door was the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend David Hoyle, waiting, absolutely still. The distant drums and the sound of pipes stole upon us, the first evidence to our senses that there was a great procession outside.

In this drama, the biggest actor had a non-speaking part – the coffin itself. As the bearer party of Grenadiers edged it up the abbey steps, it became literally true that in the midst of life we were in death. Before it, processed the pursuivants and heralds, the Queen’s Household, the clergy with their crosses raised high; just behind it, the King. In former days, his public face was much more expressive than his mother’s careful impassivity. Now, it is acquiring the mask of command.

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