They came to honour Her from all around the world as her people paid tribute to a remarkable person and Queen.
Our period of mourning may have been expressed through the spectacle of a state funeral but was deeply personal. Personal to the Royal Family but also to so many who felt a personal link to a Monarch who served us so faithfully from that famous pledge on her 21st birthday many decades ago.
We have witnessed extraordinary scenes: from the tiny Aberdeenshire town of Ballater where Her Majesty was a friend and neighbour; along the “Royal Mile” from Holyrood Palace to the High Kirk of St Giles; the “Queue” and tens of thousands filing, hushed, through the ancient Westminster Hall where Her children and grandchildren joined those standing sentinel; the majesty of the service at Westminster Abbey; the quiet and more intimate solemnity of St George’s Chapel where Her Majesty’s coffin bearing the camp pennant of the Grenadier Guards and the broken staff of Her Chamberlain slipped from view for the last time.
We were not alone: it is estimated that over 4 billion people, over half the world’s population, watched events in Westminster.
In my new role in the Home Office I felt deeply privileged to be, alongside so many, working to ensure that we as a nation gave a fitting tribute to Her Majesty. That was a sentiment shared by all: a deep determination that in saying farewell to our Queen we did so to the very best of our abilities, acutely aware of how much it meant to so many.
We had Morten Morland in the Times this week to thank for a very touching illustration of a widower at home watching the service with photographs of his late wife on the walls but an empty chair beside him. Notwithstanding the pride that can be felt in the way we all have paid tribute to Her Majesty, many will feel an abiding sense of loss after the extraordinary events of the last ten days draw to their close. I hope that some at least will have found comfort in the beautiful Abbey and Chapel services which reflected so well Her Majesty’s deep and abiding faith.