World leaders and invited dignitaries, among them former Prime Minister Tony Blair and American President Joe Biden, attended the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday morning.
People started to queue overnight outside the historic Abbey, which is the scene of the first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s at St Paul’s Cathedral in January 1965.
Queen Elizabeth was married at Westminster Abbey in November 1947, and saw her grandson Prince William wed Kate Middleton at the same location in April 2011.
Westminster Abbey, where kings and queens have been crowned since 1066, has been utilised in modern times for large-scale funerals such as those of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.
The ceremony, which began at 11am, was preceded by the King’s Guards trooping through the gates of the Abbey.
Notable leaders and guests began to arrive in individual cars around 9am. Former Prime Minister Blair was pictured outside the Abbey with his former Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown, who succeeded him as Prime Minister in 2007.
In a statement released upon her death, Blair said: “We have lost not just our monarch but the matriarch of our nation, the figure who more than any other brought our country together, kept us in touch with our better nature, personified everything which makes us proud to be British”.
Brown, meanwhile, paid tribute to a leader who “reigned with the country’s love, forever to be respected, admired, revered and adored”.
The pair were among several former Prime Ministers were in attendance, including David Cameron and John Major.
Boris Johnson, whose term as Prime Minister ended earlier this month, spoke of “our country’s saddest day” and hailed a “bright and shining light that has finally gone out”.
His successor, Liz Truss, called her “the rock on which modern Britain was built”, adding: “Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her”.
The Prime Minister, who who met the Queen two days before her passing, arrived at Westminster Abbey around 10:30am.
Labour leader Kier Starmer also attended the service.
A large security detail was in place for the arrival of American President Biden and his wife Jill, both of whom had afternoon tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle in June 2021.
Speaking at the time, Biden said: “She was very generous. I don’t think she’d be insulted but she reminded me of my mother. In terms of the look of her and just the generosity. She was very gracious”.
The 46th president of the USA was fulsome in his praise for the Queen, calling her “decent, honourable and all about service” and adding: “We’ve had an opportunity to meet with an awful lot of consequential people. But I can say that the ones who stand out in your mind are those whose relationship and interaction with you are consistent with their reputation”.
Also in attendance was French president Emmanuel Macron, who arrived at the Abbey with his wife Brigitte around 10am.
In his five years as Prime Minister, Macron met the Queen on three occasions. He paid his respects in the form of a three-minute video, during which he said: “Elizabeth II mastered our language, loved our culture and touched our hearts”.
Most countries were invited to send representatives, but six nations did not receive invitations to the funeral – Afghanistan, Belarus, Myanmar, Russia, Syria and Venezuela.
In recent days, several other notable UK figures queued to view the Queen’s coffin, including footballer David Beckham and actor Tilda Swinton.