The toll of bells, crescendo of bagpipes and echo of drums abruptly gave way to sombre silence early Monday morning as state funeral proceedings for Queen Elizabeth got underway at historic Westminster Abbey.
The sound of music intensified as the funeral procession neared the medieval gothic cathedral as formally attired guests cleared airport-style security and made their way to their seats.
A procession of decorated Canadians including the holders of the Victoria Cross, George Cross and Orders of Chivalry walked through the church on the way to their seats. Order of Canada holders actress Sandra Oh, Olympian Mark Tewksbury and performing artist Gregory Charles walked near the front of the procession.
Canada's delegation also includes former governors general Michaëlle Jean and David Johnston, as well as former prime ministers Kim Campbell, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper.
The United Kingdom's first state funeral since Winston Churchill's was filled with spectacle: 142 Royal Navy sailors drew the gun carriage carrying Elizabeth’s coffin to Westminster Abbey, with King Charles III and his sons, Princes William and Harry, walking behind as bagpipers played. Pallbearers carried the coffin into the abbey, where around 2,000 people ranging from world leaders to health-care workers gathered to mourn her. Ahead of the service, a bell tolled 96 times — once a minute for each year of her life.
“Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the nation, from the Commonwealth, and from the nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service, and in sure confidence to commit her to the mercy of God our maker and redeemer,” the dean of the medieval abbey, David Hoyle, told the mourners.
The state funeral marks the culmination of 10 days of tributes and mourning following the queen's death on Sept. 8 at the age of 96.
Dignitaries and everyday mourners alike have poured into London in recent days to pay tribute to the U.K.'s longest-reigning monarch and Canada's most long-standing head of state.
@JustinTrudeau, Canadian delegation attend Queen Elizabeth's state #funeral in #London. #CDNPoli #QueenElizabethII
After the funeral service, the King and other members of the Royal Family will walk behind the gun carriage carrying the queen’s coffin in a procession that will include members of the armed forces from around the Commonwealth, including the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP.
She will then be transferred to a hearse and taken to Windsor Castle, where she'll be buried at St George's Chapel alongside the late Prince Philip, her husband of almost 74 years.
The queen's death has prompted an outpouring of grief and affection from around the world.
In London, an entire park near Buckingham Palace has filled with floral tributes, while people at one point were waiting up to 24 hours in line for a chance to view the queen's casket at her lying-in-state at Westminster Hall.
Crowds have swelled in the areas surrounding the royal residences and Westminster, prompting a huge number of police and security staff to cordon off entire sections of the city with metal barricades in an effort to control traffic.
The procession will pass by thousands of members of the public, some of whom have been camping outside for days in hopes of getting a front-row seat.
Tim Thompson of Fredericton set up a tent on the flag-lined road leading to Buckingham Palace early Sunday morning to ensure he would get a good view.
As a military member with the Cadet Instructors Cadre, he said it was worth spending a night out in the cold in order to pay his respects to Canada's commander-in-chief and head of state.
Thompson, who also lined up for 13 hours to attend the queen's lying in state earlier in the week, said he was feeling mixed emotions surrounding the funeral. While the event is a sad one, he said he was proud and happy to see different nations come together to mourn the queen.
"We have a shared grief that we're going through, so it's nice to see that camaraderie between Canadians, Australians and British people," he said in an interview.
Evert McLaughlin, a Toronto native living in London, said it felt "surreal" to be living through such an important moment.
"I think she still means a lot to a lot of Canadians," he said of the queen outside the park where people were laying flowers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2022.