SARAH VINE: The beauty of the ceremony is that it managed to combine pomp and circumstance with genuine feeling… Suddenly, the whole country is on the same wavelength. What an incredible legacy
Say what you like about dear old dog-eared Blighty, but we still do some things better than anyone else. As send-offs go, that was absolutely world class.
From the stunning display of military precision to the glorious surroundings, the stirring music, the assembled heads of state (the sheer power wattage in the Abbey was enough to solve the energy crisis once and for all), the Queen’s funeral in every aspect matched the grandeur of her reign.
As her coffin was lifted on to the gun carriage at Westminster Hall, as the pipes and drums struck up, I felt a real jolt to the heart.
The mixture of beauty and brutality of a marching band never fails to elicit strong emotions, but this was off the scale.
And I used to think there was no sound more heartbreaking than a lone trumpeter playing The Last Post, but the haunting lament Sleep, Dearie, Sleep, played by the Sovereign’s Piper of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, Warrant Officer Class 1 (Pipe Major) Paul Burns, was one of the saddest and most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. And as for the breaking of the wand . . .
Sarah Vine: ‘People of every race, religion, age and belief, united by the same common denominator: the Queen’
Music and ceremony are so vital at times like this — times when words simply cannot express the depth of emotions we feel.
They give us a framework, a solid structure within which to operate, simple rules to stick to when it feels like the sky is falling in. There is no manual for grief, but it helps to have fixed points to cling to.
The beauty of yesterday’s ceremony is that it managed to combine pomp and circumstance with genuine feeling.
So often events like this don’t, but this was a deeply touching, respectful and at times rather gallant tribute to this most beloved of women, of monarchs.
There was a touch of dash to it, too, in the ranks of handsome sailors pulling the gun carriage, in the vigour of the coffin-bearers, so earnest and focused on their precious cargo. It was, if such a thing exists, a fairytale funeral: full of sadness, yes — but also a celebration.
As I watched and listened, the tears never far from my eyes, I felt a great sense of joy.
Not just for a long life well lived, which is always something to cherish; but also for the way that, even in death, Elizabeth II continues to serve and inspire her people.
Since the announcement of the Queen’s passing almost two weeks ago, this country has been on a journey, some might say a pilgrimage, even. We have coalesced around her memory, rediscovered a sense of nationhood. We have united in grief, but also in love, respect and gratitude.
We have also shown the world how much the monarchy really means to us, perhaps even surprising ourselves in the process. We have reminded the world that it is so much more than just a dusty tradition, or a source of lucrative plot twists and gossip for the likes of Netflix or Oprah Winfrey. That it is a vital, important institution which occupies a central role in our hearts — and in modern Britain.
Sarah Vine: ‘The Queen’s passing seems to have elicited the same response; it has stopped us in our tracks, brought a sense of perspective into all our lives, a realisation of what really matters — and what does not’
The sheer number of people who lined the route of the Queen’s coffin yesterday, who camped out all night and stood waiting in order to catch a final glimpse as she made her way to her final resting place at Windsor Castle, was testimony to that.
As was the queue that snaked for miles around London of people waiting to pay their respects as she lay in state: a cross-section of British society, men, women, children — from all walks of life — all there for the same reason.
People of every race, religion, age and belief, united by the same common denominator: the Queen. It reminds me a bit of how it was during the pandemic, when we stood in our doorways, applauding the hard work and dedication of NHS workers. A spontaneous, heartfelt expression of love and gratitude.
The Queen’s passing seems to have elicited the same response; it has stopped us in our tracks, brought a sense of perspective into all our lives, a realisation of what really matters — and what does not. The whole country is on the same wavelength — and it feels amazing.
Sarah Vine: ‘Such a spontaneous outpouring of genuine emotion feels so deeply unexpected and special, particularly in these harsh, unforgiving times. I can’t think of any other single public figure, save perhaps the Pope, who could stir such depth of feeling’
If you think about it, that’s quite an extraordinary legacy. It’s certainly something no politician could ever do, or celebrity.
Such a spontaneous outpouring of genuine emotion feels so deeply unexpected and special, particularly in these harsh, unforgiving times. I can’t think of any other single public figure, save perhaps the Pope, who could stir such depth of feeling.
I like to think she’s watching. I hope she is. I hope she’s there, with Prince Philip squeezing her hand, looking down and seeing what she meant to us, to this bruised and battered country, to this disparate nation of ours.
Sarah Vine: I like to think she’s watching. I hope she is. I hope she’s there, with Prince Philip squeezing ‘her hand, looking down and seeing what she meant to us, to this bruised and battered country, to this disparate nation of ours’
And I hope that, now that she’s in her final resting place alongside her parents and husband, we can hold on to a little of that sentiment, retain some of that generosity of spirit which was so much a part of who she was. That her memory, her life of duty and perseverance, can inspire us in the difficult months to come.
‘What would the Queen have done?’ I shall ask myself when the going gets tough.
And for her family, too, I hope her loss leads them to a better place. That the unity and commitment they’ve shown over the past few days carries on, and the love and respect in which the Queen was held by her people inspires certain members of the Royal Family to reconsider their choices.
Because fine words and mournful expressions are all very well.
But the best way of honouring the Queen’s memory is for her descendants to set aside their differences and unite in supporting the institution she served her entire life. An institution that, for all its faults, still sustains us all.
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