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Queen Elizabeth II's coffin lowered into royal vault; private burial to follow

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APTOPIX Britain Royals Funeral

The Ceremonial Procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II travels down the Long Walk as it arrives at Windsor Castle for the Committal Service at St George's Chapel, in Windsor, England, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. 

LONDON (AP) — The United Kingdom and the world bade farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday with a state funeral that drew presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers — and crowds in the streets of London and at Windsor Castle — to honor a monarch whose 70-year reign defined an age.

In a country known for pomp and pageantry, the first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s was filled with spectacle: Before the service, a bell tolled 96 times — once a minute for each year of Elizabeth's life. Then, 142 Royal Navy sailors used ropes to draw the gun carriage carrying her flag-draped coffin to Westminster Abbey, where pallbearers bore it inside and about 2,000 people ranging from world leaders to health care workers gathered to mourn.

Keep scrolling for video and a photo gallery from the day's events

The trappings of state and monarchy abounded: The coffin was draped with the Royal Standard and atop it sat the Imperial State Crown, sparkling with almost 3,000 diamonds, and the sovereign’s orb and scepter.

But the personal was also present: The coffin was followed into the church by generations of Elizabeth’s descendants, including King Charles III, heir to the throne Prince William and 9-year-old George, who is second in line. On a wreath atop the coffin, a handwritten note read, “In loving and devoted memory,” and was signed Charles R — for Rex, or king.

“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 service ended with two minutes of silence observed across the United Kingdom, after which the attendees sang the national anthem, now titled “God Save the King.”

The day began early when the doors of Parliament's 900-year-old Westminster Hall were closed to mourners after hundreds of thousands had filed in front of her coffin.

Monday was declared a public holiday in honor of Elizabeth, who died Sept. 8 — and hundreds of thousands of people descended on central London to witness history. They jammed sidewalks to watch the coffin wend its way through the streets of the capital after the service. As the procession passed Buckingham Palace, the queen's official residence in the city, staff stood outside, some bowing and curtseying.

Mark Elliott, 53, who traveled to London from the Lake District in northern England with his wife and two children to watch the procession, got up at 1:30 a.m. to stake out a good viewing location near the palace.

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“I know we don’t know the queen, but she’s been our head of state for 70 years, you feel as though you know her, you feel as though she’s part of the family. It is kind of moving,” he said.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in his sermon at Westminster Abbey that “few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen” for the queen.

More people lined the route the hearse took from the capital to Windsor Castle, and many tossed flowers at the cortege as it passed. Millions more tuned into the funeral live, and crowds flocked to parks and public spaces across the U.K. to watch it on screens. Even the Google doodle turned a respectful black for the day.

As the coffin arrived at the castle, there were poignant reminders of her love of animals: A groom stood at the roadside with one of her ponies, Emma, and another member of staff held the leashes of two of her beloved corgis, Sandy and Muick.

During the committal ceremony in St. George’s Chapel on the castle grounds, Dean of Windsor David Conner praised Elizabeth for her “life of unstinting service” to the nation but also her “kindness, concern and reassuring care for her family and friends and neighbors.”

Then the crown and the orb and scepter were removed from atop the coffin and placed on the altar — separating them from the queen for the last time. Her coffin was lowered into the royal vault through an opening in the chapel's floor. Charles looked weary and emotional as mourners sang the national anthem.

The queen will be laid to rest later with her husband, Prince Philip, at a private family service.

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VIDEO

Queen Elizabeth's coffin travels by gun carriage to the funeral service at Westminster Abbey in London.

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PHOTO GALLERY

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