The Lord Chamberlain, the most senior official in the royal household, then broke his “Wand of Office”, signifying the end of his service to the sovereign, and placed it on the casket which then slowly descended into the royal vault.
As the congregation sang God Save the King, King Charles, who faces a huge challenge to maintain the appeal of the monarchy as economic hardship looms in Britain, appeared to be fighting back tears.
It was in the same vast building that the queen was photographed alone, mourning her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, during the pandemic lockdown, reinforcing the sense of a monarch in sync with her people during testing times.
Later on Monday evening, in a private family service, the coffins of Elizabeth and Philip, who died last year aged 99, were moved from the vault to be buried together in the same chapel where her father, King George VI, mother, and sister, Princess Margaret, also rest.
At the state funeral, Welby told those present that the grief felt by so many across Britain and the wider world reflected the late monarch’s “abundant life and loving service”.
“Her late majesty famously declared on a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth. Rarely has such a promise been so well kept,” Welby said.
Music that played at the queen’s wedding in 1947 and her coronation six years later again rang out. The coffin entered to lines of scripture set to a score used at every state funeral since the early 18th century.
After the funeral, her flag-draped casket was pulled by sailors through London’s streets on a gun carriage in one of the largest military processions seen in Britain, involving thousands of members of the armed forces dressed in ceremonial finery.
They walked in step to funeral music from marching bands, while in the background the city’s famous Big Ben tolled each minute. Charles and other senior royals followed on foot.
The casket was taken from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch and transferred to a hearse to travel to Windsor, where more big crowds waited patiently.