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UK falls silent during final farewell to Elizabeth II
London: The UK observed a two-minute silence in a poignant nationwide tribute as a final farewell to the country's longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, at the conclusion of a majestic state funeral ceremony at Westminster Abbey here, attended by thousands and witnessed by millions on screens worldwide. The UK's National Anthem, 'God Save the King', rang out as the coffin was lifted out for the last leg of the journey to the late monarch's final resting place at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, where a Committal Service will conclude the public-facing aspect of the funeral before a private burial ceremony on Monday evening.
The Queen's final resting place will be by the side of her late husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, in an enclave of the historic chapel on her south-east England estate of Windsor. The state funeral began as chimes of the Big Ben fell silent and hymns rang out as the coffin of the late monarch was carried into Westminster Abbey on Monday morning. In the congregation of around 2,000 made up of world leaders, royalty from the UK and overseas and community leaders, India was represented by President Droupadi Murmu and Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra.
The Big Ben, the iconic London landmark housed in the Elizabeth Tower named after the late Queen, tolled every minute 96 times to mark each year of the late sovereign's life as a procession led by King Charles III entered the historic 11th century Abbey.
The coffin, draped with the Royal Standard, was adorned with flowers from the King's royal homes and a personal note "in loving and devoted memory" from him and the Instruments of State – made up of the diamond-encrusted Imperial State Crown and the orb and sceptre which were gifted to the Queen at her coronation in the same Abbey in 1953.
As the clock struck 11am local time, the Queen's eldest son and heir Charles followed the coffin – which had been Lying-in-State at Westminster Hall since last Wednesday – in solemn procession, accompanied by his sons Princes William and Harry and siblings Princess Anne and Princes Andrew and Edward. William's children, nine-year-old Prince George and seven-year-old Princess Charlotte were among the youngest members of the royal procession, who walked between their parents – the Prince and Princess of Wales.
There was military precision in the ceremony following days of rehearsals by the nearly 6,000 armed forces personnel involved in the grand ceremony.
The coffin was then borne in procession in the state gun carriage used for royal funerals towards Wellington Arch in central London to be taken by the state hearse to Windsor.
Queen Elizabeth II, 96, died peacefully at her Scottish residence of Balmoral Castle on September 8 – which marked the start of the state mourning period in the UK, which has seen thousands turn out for an unprecedented queue in London to file past the late monarch's coffin Lying-in-State.