After lying in state for five days, Queen Elizabeth II was farewelled at a state funeral in Westminster Abbey on Monday, 19 September. The service was officiated by the Dean of Westminster Abbey, the very Reverend Dr David Hoyle. Among the 2000 strong congregation of family members, world leaders and dignitaries invited for the occasion, was also Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations who represented the Holy Father.
During his sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recalled Queen Elizabeth’s life of service, her way of being “present to so many, touching a multitude of lives”.
“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!” Indeed, he added, “few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen”.
Archbishop Welby highlighted the deep faith of Queen Elizabeth, who held the title of Defender of the faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. “In 1953 the Queen began her Coronation with silent prayer”, he said. Indeed, “her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her. Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth and the world, had its foundation in her following Christ”, he stressed.
During the service, several church leaders offered prayers including Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales; Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; and Shermana Fletcher, Principal Officer for Pentecostal and Charismatic Relations, Churches Together in England.
Cardinal Nichols expressed gratitude for “Queen Elizabeth’s commitment to the Commonwealth throughout her kingdom, for her ability to serve and her dedication to her people and for the rich bonds of unity and mutual support she has fostered”.
At the end of the funeral service, Queen Elizabeth’s coffin was taken to Windsor Castle, her final resting place.