Westminster Abbey’s role in Queen Elizabeth II’s life
London, United Kingdom — The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will take place at Westminster Abbey, the historic church in central London which has played a major role in her life.
1934: Princess bridesmaid
In her first major appearance at Westminster Abbey, the eight-year-old princess Elizabeth of York was a bridesmaid at the wedding of her uncle prince George, duke of Kent, and princess Marina of Greece and Denmark on November 29.
It was the first royal wedding to be broadcast by radio.
1937: Father’s coronation
King George VI was crowned on May 12, five months after his brother King Edward VIII abdicated.
“I thought it all very, very wonderful,” the 11-year-old princess Elizabeth said in a handwritten account.
“At the end, the service got rather boring as it was all prayers.”
Afterwards, Elizabeth and her sister Margaret helped themselves to “sandwiches, stuffed rolls, orangeade, and lemonade.”
1947: Elizabeth marries Philip
The November 20 wedding lifted some of the post-war gloom.
Having renounced his Greek and Danish titles, Philip was created the Duke of Edinburgh.
The ceremony was broadcast by BBC radio to 200 million people around the world.
So soon after World War II, Philip’s three surviving sisters, who married German princes, could not attend.
Princess Elizabeth still needed ration coupons to buy the satin for her Norman Hartnell dress.
1953: The coronation
The June 2 coronation saw Queen Elizabeth make the sacred vows of lifelong service that she upheld throughout her reign.
It was the first televised coronation and for many it was the first time they had watched TV.
Some 27 million out of Britain’s 36 million population did so. It was also filmed in color and experimental 3D.
The service lasted almost three hours. Some 8,251 guests attended, crammed into temporary tiers, while 129 nations and territories were officially represented.
In 2018, the sovereign described the Gold State Coach ride as “horrible.”
1960: Margaret gets married
Queen Elizabeth’s sister Princess Margaret was talked out of marrying equerry Peter Townsend in 1953, as he was divorced.
She married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones on May 6 with their artsy friends in attendance.
Their father having died in 1952, Prince Philip walked Margaret down the aisle.
The Earl and Countess of Snowdon drifted apart by the early 1970s and divorced in 1978.
1973: Anne’s wedding
Princess Anne was the first of Queen Elizabeth’s children to wed, marrying army lieutenant Mark Phillips on November 14 in a ceremony filmed in color and televised globally.
Unusually, Phillips, an Olympic gold medal-winning equestrian, did not take a title. The couple divorced in 1992.
1986: Andrew and Fergie
After Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981, Queen Elizabeth’s second son Prince Andrew married fun-loving Sarah Ferguson, a major’s daughter.
The July 23 event followed the big-scale template set five years earlier.
The couple have two children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. They divorced in 1996 but remain close.
1997: Diana’s funeral
Queen Elizabeth was criticized for her seemingly stand-offish response to Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris.
Nearly a million people lined the streets, while an estimated 2.5 billion people watched the September 6 service on television.
When the cortege passed Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth publicly bowed her head.
Diana’s brother Charles Spencer rebuked the royal family in his eulogy. The Windsors took note and gradually began to modernize.
2002: Queen Mother’s funeral
The April 9 funeral of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother marked the end of an era. Aged 101, the royal matriarch was the last empress of India and a link to a bygone age.
More than 200,000 people filed past her coffin in respect.
Coming two months after Margaret died, the death sparked an outpouring of public mourning and sympathy for the monarch, after years of hostility over Diana’s death.
2011: William and Kate
On April 29, the biggest royal wedding in a generation was watched by up to two billion people worldwide and helped breathe new life into Britain’s monarchy after years in crisis.
Queen Elizabeth allowed William to rip up the stuffy original guest list and start again, bringing in more of their own friends rather than dignitaries.
2013: Coronation anniversary
After jubilee events throughout her reign, the June 4 service was the last major personal anniversary Queen Elizabeth attended at Westminster Abbey.
The glittering solid gold crown and the holy oil used to anoint her took center stage.
The 60th anniversary service reflected her coronation and lifetime of duty ever since.
Queen Elizabeth smiled as she paused by the Coronation Chair that she sat in 60 years beforehand.
2022: Prince Philip memorial
The queen was last at the abbey in March, for a delayed memorial service to her late husband Prince Philip, who died in April 2021, aged 99.
But her appearance was overshadowed by the sight of her second son Prince Andrew helping her to her seat, despite outrage over his settlement of a US civil claim for sexual assault.
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