Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral was planned down to the smallest detail: from who received the invitation to the order in which the 2,000 guests would enter (and where they would be seated) at the imposing Westminster Abbey, through to the choice of flowers, music and even the accessories – all in tune so that nothing escapes the protocol.
And it was precisely the details that did not escape the watchful eye of the millions of people who followed the ceremony in person, on television or on social media. Even a spider was the subject of Twitter:
— Laura (@deplaurablenull)
September 19, 2022
Joe Biden arrived late and had to wait to be seated
If the British are known for their punctuality, the Americans… not really. Proof of this was the delay of Joe Biden, which ended up earning him a place further back than what was expected.
According to The Guardian, the US president and the first lady chose to drive to Westminster Abbey in their own car (instead of the bus where the other guests followed) for safety reasons, but were stuck in traffic from London. And, on arrival, rather than being immediately ushered to their seats, the couple had to be kindly told they would need to stand and wait while a procession of medals went ahead of them. Joe and Jill Biden were seated ten minutes later than expected – and 14 rows behind.
President Joe Biden has arrived at the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II https://t.co/JosSFORgVy pic.twitter.com/VW8vKlzw4T
— CNN (@CNN)
September 19, 2022
The President of the United States sat behind Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, and ahead of Petr Fiala, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. Sitting to her husband’s left, Jill Biden sat next to Ignazio Cassis, the president of Switzerland. In the front row of the American couple was Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
Why does everyone seem to have medals?
“Why does the Queen’s youngest grandson wear medals at just 14?” “What about Mike Tindall, who was never in the military?” These were some of the questions that emerged on social media as the royal family entered the Abbey for the ceremony. And there is an explanation: from the outset, the medals in question are not military but civilian.
James, Viscount Severn is wearing two medals for the vigil. He’s only 14 so what are they for?
Genuinely curious, I have nothing but respect for someone so young doing something like this. pic.twitter.com/Zq5pstHD3Z
— Delilah (@dthecosplayer)
September 17, 2022
Prince James, Viscount Severn, is the son of Prince Edward – the Queen’s fourth child – and Princess Sofia Rhys-Jones. He wore a medal for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, celebrated in 2012, and another for the Platinum Jubilee, which was marked this year. In addition to the young prince, all the Queen’s children and grandchildren received a commemorative medal.
Why is Mike Tindall wearing medals? Does the six nations count as a military campaign now? pic.twitter.com/huFzSoEQ5N
— sharkastic (@sharkastic)
September 19, 2022
Mike Tindall, the former rugby player who is married to Princess Anne’s daughter, was wearing the MBE Merit Medal (for “Member of the British Empire”), awarded for his contribution to the sport, as well as medals for Diamond and Platinum Jubilees of the late Queen.
The symbolism of accessories
If in recent years differences have marked the relationship between Kate and Meghan, this Monday the sisters-in-law were in tune when it comes to choosing accessories. In fact, all the women of the Royal Family (with the exception of Princess Anne) who attended the Queen’s funeral arrived at Westminster Abbey dressed according to protocol: black dress, traditional black hats or ‘mourning veils’. According to British media, all royal women must also wear “mourning jewelry”, usually pearls, as they are believed to symbolize tears of sadness.
The Princess of Wales wore one of the necklaces from Queen Elizabeth II’s private jewelry collection. The necklace, made up of four rows of pearls and a clasp, was often worn by the monarch in the late 1980s. Pearl and diamond earrings also belonged to Elizabeth II. The Duchess of Sussex wore a pair of pearl earrings that the Queen gave her a few years ago.
Charlotte, daughter of Kate and William, wore a diamond horseshoe brooch as a symbol of the queen’s passion for horses.
the mystery of paper
Jewels and guests aside, attention turned to a piece of paper: at the beginning of the ceremony, a bishop shuffled a pile of papers in his hands, accidentally dropping one of them. The white paper flew from her hand to the floor of Westminster Abbey, landing visibly near the queen’s urn.
Soon after the fall, social media posts about the piece of paper multiplied. The incident quickly captured the public’s imagination – who even created a Twitter account identified as @FuneralPaper, with the name “#Papergate” and a biography that reads: “Will I pick it up or not? What’s in my paper? So many questions, but few answers.”
— #Papergate (@FuneralPaper)
September 19, 2022
Queen’s dogs watched the urn arrive at Windsor
After the state funeral, the Queen’s two corgis, Sandy and Muick, were brought out into the street by an official of the Royal Household to watch the arrival of Elizabeth II’s urn at Windsor Castle. A symbolic moment that once again recalls the importance of animals to the queen. Last week it was made public that Prince Andrew will be the next caretaker for the Queen’s dogs, who had a fondness for this breed.