© 2022 Aspen Public Radio
APR20_webHeader_FallVersion9-08-2020 copy
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

From Windsor, a view of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

To England now, where Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest today. The ceremonies began with a state funeral at Westminster Abbey attended by President Biden and other world leaders. A glass-panelled Jaguar hearse then carried the queen's coffin outside London to Windsor Castle. Tens of thousands of onlookers stood along the way. The queen's farewell concluded with a private burial ceremony at St. George's Chapel, which is where we find NPR correspondent Eleanor Beardsley. She is reporting from Windsor, covering all the day's events. Hey, Eleanor.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: All right, so talk to me about the ceremony taking place there at Windsor. Talk to me about why this will be her final resting place at Windsor.

BEARDSLEY: Well, some very old rituals for the death of a monarch took place today in full public view on television for the first time because when Elizabeth II's father, George VI, died in 1952 and this went on, no one saw it on television. Today, these instruments of state, as they're being called - the orb, the sceptre and the crown - were taken from her coffin and placed on the altar, officially separated from her. And the Lord Chamberlain, who is the top person in the Queen's household - he broke his wand and laid it on her coffin to signify an end of service to her. It was very dramatic, very ritual-filled ceremony. The queen - you know, she wanted to be buried here because Windsor is very dear to her. She grew up riding horses on the grounds as a teenager. She spent World War II here away from the London Blitz. And during her long reign, she spent weekends here at Windsor. It was a place of relaxation and family, and it was said to be her favorite residence.

KELLY: So there was this final procession to the castle itself, the Long Walk. And this was the last public event before she was interred. You got to talk to people who were out there to see it. What were they telling you?

BEARDSLEY: Absolutely. We were out there. It was just an amazing scene, just tens of thousands of people. People said they would have never missed it. It's a unique moment in history. I spoke to one of them, Kerry-Jane Lowery, and here's what she told me.

KERRY-JANE LOWERY: I feel quite emotional, actually. I went to see the queen yesterday lying in state. It was really quite moving. But this somehow is even more moving because she's coming home to be buried in St. George's Chapel, so it's quite something.

KELLY: Eleanor, speaking of quite something, for those of us following along on television, the amount of choreography, of planning that went into today was just remarkable. Talk to us a little bit more about the day and just what it all looked like.

BEARDSLEY: Yeah, absolutely. It really was, Mary Louise. You know, the Brits - they do pomp well, and they know it. Many people told me that. But they said today went beyond their expectations. Think about it. You take some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. You have cathedrals and castles. Add to that the traditions and pageantry of the British monarchy, of the military, of the soldiers of different regiments with their different uniforms and hats and kilts and colors and the marching and the music. You had the medieval rituals on display. You had the jewels of the crown. The music in the church services was exalting. People were just stunned. They said they were very, very moved by it all.

KELLY: So after all the rituals and ceremony of today, now comes the hard work of what comes next. What does come next? Britain now has a king.

BEARDSLEY: It does. A lot of people said, well, that's exciting. We have a king. We haven't had a king in a long time. No one remembers a king. No one thinks he's going to be - King Charles III will be on a par with his mother. But people know him, and they have confidence in him, and they say he has risen to the challenge. I think people know in the back of their minds that there are troubles looming. There's an energy crisis, a slowing economy, questions over the monarchy. They know all that's coming. But today was really about being united and paying respects to their longest-serving monarch.

KELLY: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reporting for us today from Windsor in the U.K. Thank you, Eleanor.

BEARDSLEY: Thank you, Mary Louise.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAHALIA SONG, "LETTER TO UR EX") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.