WINDSOR, England— Queen Elizabeth’s final journey began more than a week ago in Scotland when her coffin left Balmoral, the land she loved, where she sought tranquility and where she died.
On Monday, that adventure ended in one of her favorite places: Windsor Castle, the home she loved during her long reign and where she was buried with her husband. , father and other family members.
In Windsor, as in London, thousands of people gathered in the sun to pay their respects, lining up to make their way to the castle, known as the Long Walk, to watch the funeral.
Like the events in London, this too is a ceremony carried out with military precision and with the glitz and pageantry in which Britain excels.
But after a state funeral at Westminster Abbey, attended by world leaders, Windsor was the place where the royals bid farewell to the queen – mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – as her coffin was lowered into the vault. Royal. A lone player lamented, its sound fading into the distance as he retreated.
For those living in or around Windsor, which considers itself the home of the monarchy, the event is poignant because of its long relationship with the queen.
Windsor is where young Elizabeth spent most of her time during the Second World War. When she became queen, she often spent weekends at the castle, enjoying its large grounds, where she could go for walks with her dogs or go horseback riding.
When fire tore through parts of Windsor Castle in 1992, it was among a number of bad events that occurred that year that contributed to the queen calling her “annus horribilis”.
More recently, the castle – which served as the royal home and fortress for 900 years – became the queen’s refuge during the pandemic. Last year, she was only seen on horseback in the castle grounds.
Ben Pearson, from nearby Maidenhead, said: “It seemed right to come to pay our respects and follow her journey home,” said Ben Pearson, from nearby Maidenhead, as he waited. coffin a few hours before it reached Windsor.
Windsor is also special to the British royal family, so special that it adopted the town’s name as its own name in 1917, during World War I, when Britain was at war with Germany. Sensing the unpopularity of all things German, the royal family became the House of Windsor at the proclamation of King George V, replacing the historic name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Just a few hundred yards from the queen’s private apartments in Windsor is St George’s Chapel, begun in 1475 by Edward IV and completed by Henry VIII in 1528, and is now her final resting place.
St George’s Chapel is also a favorite burial site for the royal family, and it was there last year that the queen mourned the death of her husband of more than 70 years, Prince Philip. The Queen was seen sitting alone at a sparse ceremony and wearing a mask to comply with coronavirus rules.
Monday’s events at Windsor gave that funeral a powerful resonance as King Charles, the new monarch and other members of the royal family walked behind the queen’s coffin, just as they did five years ago. behind Prince Philip’s coffin. (In his case, at his request, the hearse was a Land Rover SUV that he helped modify.)
At some point earlier in British history, Westminster Abbey, where the queen’s state funeral took place on Monday morning, was the more popular resting place of the British royal family. Among those lying there was Elizabeth I. But King George II, who died in 1760, was the last king to be buried at Westminster Abbey.
After Prince Philip’s funeral last year, his coffin was lowered into the royal vault at St. George to await the post-mortem reunion with the queen. That came at a private ceremony on Monday night, where the queen’s remains will be interred alongside Prince Philip’s in the King George VI Memorial Chapel. That small chapel is also home to the remains of the queen’s mother and father and her sister, Princess Margaret.
Given her long-standing relationship with Windsor, Monday’s procession to the castle and commitment service is to many like a homecoming for Queen Elizabeth.
Karl Dixon, who traveled from Glossop, about 200 miles away on Friday and has slept in a private home since, said he was drawn to Windsor, rather than London, to see the queen’s coffin in action. rest in peace as thousands of others have done.
“It’s also her home, and her late husband is buried here, as are many of her ancestors,” said Mr. Dixon, a landscape gardener. “I just feel this is my final resting place,” he added.