By Daily Mail Comment
The piper has played his last ethereal lament. The Captains and the Kings have departed. And Queen Elizabeth II has taken her place in the 1,000-year-old pantheon of British monarchy.
Through war, peace, and social and technological revolution she was there – a constant reassuring presence in a volatile and rapidly changing world.
With her passing, a momentous chapter in our national story comes to a close and, with the accession of King Charles III, a new one begins.
After the pomp and splendour of a flawless State Funeral at Westminster Abbey yesterday, the ultimate farewell was a more intimate service inside Windsor Castle.
In terms of sheer spectacle, the day was beyond compare – a dazzling display of British pageantry at its best
There, attended by her children and grandchildren, the Queen’s body was laid to rest beside those of her parents, sister and beloved husband.
A poignant reminder amid all the fanfare that here was a bereaved family giving thanks for her life and mourning her passing. All those who have lost loved ones will understand their sorrow.
In terms of sheer spectacle, the day was beyond compare – a dazzling display of British pageantry at its best. But beneath all the grandeur, gun salutes and gleaming breastplates lay a far deeper significance.
Over 12 remarkable days we have seen the United Kingdom come together in a sense of shared heritage – all petty differences temporarily forgotten.
From the first sad leg of the Queen’s final journey from Balmoral to the arrival of her cortege at Windsor yesterday, millions turned out to pay homage.
People of all colours and creeds, rich and poor, queued together for up to 14 hours to see her coffin lying-in-state. Yesterday, more than a million crammed the route of the funeral procession.
In death as in life, the Queen showed a unique ability to unite the nation.
The funeral also generated massive international interest – a rebuke to those who say that Britain today is no more than a bit-part player on the world stage.
In the abbey, presidents and prime ministers from every corner of the globe paid tribute. The international television audience was estimated at four billion – half the world’s population.
That so many people in so many countries suspended their routines to watch the ceremony is testament to the huge respect and affection in which the Queen was held.
It was also an affirmation of Britain’s standing in the world as a beacon of democracy and justice – and of the constitutional monarchy which has underpinned these precious rights.
Yesterday’s proceedings emphasised the seamless continuity this system provides. Walking behind Charles in the abbey were two others born to be king – Prince William and his young son George. Barring accident, the succession is settled for another 70 years at least. The stability that creates is of incalculable worth.
Some had feared that after the Queen died, the stature of the Royal Family would be diminished. But all the signs are that it will continue to flourish under her son.
She has clearly tutored him well and his first public speeches as King have been pitch perfect – combining the emotion of his loss with his determination to build on his mother’s inspiring legacy.
Her statesmanship and diplomacy were unmatched, captivating the people and politicians of the world. She embodied timeless values of duty, service and integrity.
Speaking movingly of his mother shortly after her death, the King said his family owed her the ‘most heartfelt debt for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example’. The same debt is owed by the whole country.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group