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CNN Live Event/Special

The State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II; Queen's Coffin Departs Westminister Abbey. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 19, 2022 - 07:00   ET





ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): It has been an extraordinary service at Westminster Abbey here with Max Foster, Kate Williams.

Max, I understand the -- from here, what happens next?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From here, there will be a procession past Buckingham Palace with the family walking behind. And you'll see the Canadian Mounties actually at the front of that procession, which is the reflection of queen's role as queen of Canada as well, and other members of the commonwealth will be reflected.

You'll see the direct members of the family, Harry, William, Charles and the like walking behind the coffin towards Wellington Arch, and that's going to be an amazing opportunity, I think, for members of the public to see the procession, the full state procession.

COOPER (voice over): I'm looking at an image we will soon see as they do that procession on the mile. It is extraordinary, the sight on the mile right now that the procession will soon be heading toward, Grenadier Guards lining both sides of the road, British flags hanging every few feet and tens of thousands of people silently waiting.

FOSTER (voice over): Yes. It's thick with crowds going right back into the park there. It's quite extraordinary. I was walking there last night and I have got friends in there as well. They said they can't get anywhere near the frontline. It's unbelievable.

I'll tell you as well, Anderson, you'll notice on the top of the coffin is that wreath of flowers we were talking about and there's a note written from King Charles, and it reads, in loving and devoted memory, Charles R, so, Charles Regent as he is now as king.

COOPER (voice over): And, again, the history of the royal family in Westminster Abbey, I mean, people who are alive today have seen the funeral of Princess Diana in this Abbey, but going back centuries. KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR (voice over): Going back centuries. This is the first state funeral at Westminster Abbey since George II, 1760. 39 monarchs have been crowned here. 3,000 people of distinction later rest here, including 13 kings and 4 queens, great queens, Elizabeth I, Queen Anne and Mary I.

And we just heard that wonderful last post there which symbolizes -- the Bugle Corps, which symbolizes the end of battle played from the lady chapel, where Elizabeth I is buried, and those really moving, final moving bagpipe music, the Sleep Dearie Sleep, from the queen's piper who played under her window every morning, for 15 minutes, whether she was there or not at Balmoral, played for her, for the last time will play her again at St. George's Chapel.

And now here, we see the coffin moving with the Grenadier Guards onto its final procession past Buckingham Palace, past Parliament Square, the statue of Winston Churchill and onto the mile, as you were saying, Anderson, this place we've seen so many jubilees, so many wonderful royal moments, now the queen's final journey through all her adoring crowds.

COOPER (voice over): We should also point out, really, this is part one, if you will of this funeral. This is just the beginning of it, the service at Westminster Abbey. Explain the -- what the order of the day is.

FOSTER (voice over): After this, the heads of state and also ministers will go to church house for a reception, which is a building near the Abbey, but the royal family, governors general of the realms, also prime ministers of the realms, but also crucially royal families from around the world will carry on to St. George's Chapel. I describe that as a royal occasion. It's for the royals of the world to remember the queen, even though they're all at this service as well.

And then part three really is this evening, the actual burial in a side chapel at St. George's, which will only be for key members of family to see the coffin buried alongside Prince Philip in the chapel and alongside the queen's parents and sister. And that's a completely private affair. We won't have cameras in that third element today.

COOPER (voice over): But for our viewers who are watching right now, what will they be seeing over the next several hours?

FOSTER (voice over): You'll see the procession leaving from Westminster Abbey towards Admiralty Arch and along the mile, as you were describing earlier on. And then the coffin will be passed onto the state hearse and driven to Windsor. And then there will be another procession through Windsor and senior members of the royal family will rejoin the procession at that point to walk it in to the St. George's Chapel, which will be a very solemn event as well.


COOPER (voice over): We are in Windsor Castle. That's our location right now. There are large crowds here, obviously heavy police presence here. Can you just talk a little bit about the importance of Windsor Castle to this queen, to the royal family, and who else is buried here?

WILLIAMS (voice over): Windsor Castle dates right back to the 11th century to the time of William the Conqueror, and the royal family have used particularly since the Tudor times. And the queen loved it. She was evacuated there during World War II. It was a place of such happy memories for her. And she stayed there more and more over the past year. She had a COVID bubble there with Prince Philip.

We remember from happy royal times, the wedding of Harry and Meghan at St. George's Chapel and also the funeral of the duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, and the queen there in COVID restrictions. And she herself commissioned the George VI Memorial Chapel on the side of the St. George's Chapel where her father was buried. She commissioned that in 1962 so he could be buried especially there. Her mother is there, as Max was saying, her sister, her husband, and she will be there, once more rejoined in what was her favorite weekend retreat. She loved it so much and I think it's so fitting that the people of Windsor, who always used to see her out riding, out walking, are there to say goodbye to her too.

FOSTER (voice over): I think it will be quite a profound moment at the end of the service at St. George's, where you see the coffin and the state jeweler will step forward and take the crown jewels from above the coffin, place them up on the altar at St. George's. And at that point, the coffin will be lowered into the vault where Prince Philip has been resting ever since he died.

And then the private part of the service will be those two coffins moving together over to the chapel to be buried next to the parents.

COOPER (voice over): But we'll be able to see the crown actually being removed and the casket being lowered down?

FOSTER (voice over): And we talked about how Charles became king as soon as the queen died, but the symbolism of this is these are the paraphernalia, really, the symbols of the crown, of the monarchy. And this is the -- the queen is being allowed them at this last step of, you know, her existence as we see her. And then the next time they'll be used -- well, they'll be taken straight back to the tower of London tonight and the next time they'll be used will be at the coronation of King Charles.

COOPER (voice over): And, Kate, I know this is a slightly lighter crown than I think Queen Victoria's crown was. I still think it's about more than two pounds.

WILLIAMS (voice over): Yes.

COOPER (voice over): But it is extraordinary up close from what I'm told.

WILLIAMS (voice over): It's extraordinary when you see it, 3,000 stones, 2,500 diamond, it has -- we can see this huge sapphire at the front of the top of the cross. That is the sapphire of Edward the Confessor, who's buried in Westminster Abbey, supposedly taken his wing, the black prince's ruby, and at the front, they have part of the biggest diamond ever found until quite recently in South Africa, the other part is in the scepter, this Star of Africa.

And this crown, it is the crown that we'll associate with the queen. When children draw pictures of the queen, they draw this crown. This is the crown that she wore at the end of her coronation. She's not crowned to it because that's Edward's crown, that's too heavy. She wore it at the end of her coronation, state opening a parliament. She wore it on the balcony as a young crowned queen. She held the scepters, she held the orb, the symbols of her power. These world jewels date right back to beyond the 15th century, were remade by Charles II.

And they really were her crown. It was made smaller for her to fit her smaller head. And, to me, it's so symbolic seeing her crown, seeing her orb, seeing her scepter with her, being carried by her beloved Grenadier Guards. That symbol, all of those jewels of British history, and there it is, the final time that she will wear it. And as Max was saying, that symbolic moment in St. George's Chapel, where the crown and the scepter and the orb is removed, and we'll see them once more when Charles is crowned.

FOSTER (voice over): They're about to come out the great west door to place the coffin on the state gun carriage. And this -- there are members of the public -- I mean, not many managed to get there, but I think this is quite a profound moment for those members of the public when they see that moment at the end of the funeral. And then it will be followed in procession to all the way up to Hyde Park, and that will include the queen consort, I understand, as well, that both the king and queen will be following behind.

COOPER (voice over): You cannot underestimate sort of the power of actually seeing the coffin draped in the standard, in person, when we were at Buckingham Palace when Queen Elizabeth -- when her casket was brought back for the first time from the long journey from Balmoral. I mean, there was an electricity in the crowd that was startling. I had not anticipated to actually see it passing by.


WILLIAMS (voice over): It's so overwhelmingly powerful, isn't it, Anderson? The queen and the coffin and the funeral, and all the pageantry and symbolism and were both thanking, giving thanksgiving as the dean of Westminster, who conducted the service in Westminster Abbey, was saying, giving thanksgiving for her reign.

And we're also seeing this moment of transition. It is such a weighty historical moment. We will never see a state funeral like this ever again. It's really the greatest moment in royal history, in terms of the gathering of international -- heads of state and 6,000 members of the armed forces taking part, 200 musicians. The procession really is the biggest moment, I think, as a historian I will ever see.

COOPER (voice over): These images could, if it was black white -- I mean, this could be from hundreds of years ago. This is a tradition that has been passed down, the uniforms very much the same as they were in the 1800s, if not, even before that. The other extraordinary thing for this queen, who has lived at Buckingham Palace for her entire life, lived as a child at Windsor during the war for safety reasons, this will be the last time her body is in London, the city that she loved so much, as she's now being taken -- she'll be taken through London and then brought here to Windsor, where she will finally be laid to rest.

FOSTER (voice over): It's all designed to get us used to the idea that she's no longer with us and that she we will no longer see her in these places.

For the Armed Forces, a really profound moment, she was the head of the Armed Forces. They all served in her name. And the whole route from Westminster Abbey to the top of Constitution Hill will be lined with Armed Forces, also at the memorial gates as well.

I'll also tell you that in the procession, members of the National Health Service will be represented because of what they did on the frontlines during the pandemic. And they include May Parsons, you remember, administered the first COVID-19 vaccine and was present in Windsor Castle as well in July this year when her majesty awarded the George Cross to the NHS. So, the NHS reflected in this, to reflect the modernity -- you speak about the history to these costumes and moments, but actually a lot of modernity too.

COOPER (voice over): The queen's casket being placed on the gun carriage again, once again to be pulled by more than 100 members of the British Royal Navy.

FOSTER (voice over): And flanked by the bearer party, the ball bearers, the king's bodyguard, the honorable court gentleman at arms, the yeoman of the guard and the royal company of archers.

COOPER (voice over): The scepter, the orb, obviously the things not many around the world are maybe familiar, with the meaning of an orb.

WILLIAMS (voice over): So, the orb, the globe who is bearing the cross is to symbolize how the sovereign's power comes from God. And it's given to the sovereign at coronation. It's divided up into three temporal reigns. And the scepter is to symbolize that -- it goes back to seeing the monarch as a shepherd. We see scepters and sticks going right back to Egyptian times, the symbols of monarchy and before.

And this moment in the coronation when the monarch bears them is so symbolic. We see the crown quite frequently on the green but we never see the orb and the scepter, but they are key, important parts of the royal jewels and they are integral to the coronation. So, the last time that, really, the queen held them was in 1953 when she was crowned and the first ever televised coronation in front of thousands and thousands of people, 2,000 journalists lining the route, hundreds of people inside the coronation, the millions watching on T.V.

And now it's amazing to think London is so still now. The stillness of London, it's incredible to think how much London has changed in the time when she was born in 1926 when horse-drawn carriages were still common and now we have airplanes still just for this hour from the airport, so it'll be quiet. What a life, what a reign she'd seen.

COOPER (voice over): I knew if I asked you about the orb, you would know everything about --

FOSTER (voice over): She was off.

The king is going to lead the members. He's going to walk behind the coffin with leading members of the royal family. And then I'm told that the queen consort, the princess of Wales and the duchess of Sussex, countess of Wessex and the children will be in cars behind.

We're about to start hearing minute guns as well from Hyde Park from the king's troop, but also Big Ben is going to be tolling throughout the duration of this process, a muffled bell, only muffled during these moments.

COOPER (voice over): Let's listen in.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): And we are outside Westminster. Of course, you can hear cannons here, Richard. You can hear Big Ben. And we will be seeing in just a moment or two the coffin as it proceeds outside of Westminster Abbey and its way to the arch.

Richard, explain exactly what we're going to see here from where we are. Obviously, everyone is looking up close at the queen and the coffin. This is very soon going to move past where we are.

RICAHRD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It's going from the Abbey around Parliament Square, crossing up White Hall, being led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, followed by the Drawed Cross veterans in honor of their sacrifice and duty. And then a series of military parades all heading towards Horse Guards' parade, where they'll then go around the mile and around the palace. Big Ben, the sovereign's tower, the Elizabeth Tower, chimes once per minute.

BURNETT (voice over): We see that obviously right behind as we are sitting here with Christiane and Richard. And we await that moving right here basically behind us. We are going to see the coffin.

It is a moment, as we know, that obviously moving towards the Wellington Arch, Christiane, but to think ability what the archbishop said, I think, for anyone watching, whether you're one of the members of the commonwealth, the billions of people may be watching today described her as joyful and present to so many. And those so many now lining in silence, these streets waiting for their glimpse.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice over): Absolutely. And it's been like this, honestly, since the queen passed away. People have just gradually come in more and more numbers. And now they're in parks as well watching on big screens. I'm hearing from people who are covering that part of it. There are a lot of people who have turned out for this to say farewell to a woman who gave her entire life and her entire reign to their service.

And it is remarkable because that is probably what we're not going to see again and that's what we're not used to. It is right now passing essentially the position that we can actually see --

BURNETT (voice over): So, we can see it right now, yes.

AMANPOUR (voice over): It's passing across Parliament Square, past Big Ben and then it enters into White Hall, which is the seat of government and all the ministries, the (INAUDIBLE), which was the commemoration for the war dead, which the queen visited every armistice day, every single year. It was a big part of her calendar. And we won't see it from our view but, of course, all the cameras will be able to see it. But that's our view of it.

BURNETT (voice over): Yes. You can see right here, obviously, we're looking close. But a moment ago, you could see everyone watching exactly what we can see, looking past Big Ben as the procession moved past.

AMANPOUR (voice over): You know what's fascinating as we've all been talking about again as we hear Big Ben tolling, and we know this is only just beginning.

BURNETT (voice over): You hear the cannons.

AMANPOUR (voice over): We have got the procession, we have got the funeral, we've got people who are going to come and line the highway, no doubt, like they have before to watch her hearse and go to Windsor.

But the writing about these gun carriages and others has been fascinating, because they say, like everything, this particular pulling of the gun carriage came out of a series of mishaps, because during Queen Victoria's funeral, she had wanted horses, apparently white and cream horses to pull her coffin. But either it was too cold, and this is where history is a little confused, either we're told it was too cold or the horses panicked, or they reared, it didn't happen and somebody intervened very cleverly of the royal household and got the sailors to pull --

BURNETT (voice over): So, the Navy saved the day.

AMANPOUR (voice over): Yes.

BURNETT (voice over): And now they are central to this.

AMANPOUR (voice over): And even further back in 1852, the duke of Wellington, he had a gun carriage, which was actually a car, created -- it was ten tons, created from cannons found on the battlefield of Waterloo. Obviously, he won the battle of Waterloo. And it got stuck in the mud and they couldn't take the coffin off because it was too heavy, it took forever to get it going. So, this is a sort of improvisation, if you like, based on what they tried to do in the past.

BURNETT (voice over): And those ties to history.


And I know, Richard, that the queen obviously, over years, had had a say and decided what she wanted on this day, in this ceremony. We just saw the funeral and, of course, as she heads to Wellington Arch, one thing I saw that really did bring this home though is because this gun carriage goes all the way back right to 1899, that there is a person whose job it is to turn the wheels a quarter each week to make sure that the gun carriage stays functional and that this happens day in and day out, so that when this moment comes, we are able to see what we are witnessing today.

QUEST (voice over): From clocks to Big Ben, to gun carriages, there's an entire infrastructure that is involved to make sure this happens as it's supposed to happen on time. It's a long procession, this, both physically in terms of distance and in terms of parties. You have got there the variety, bands of the pipers, followed by various divisions of the British Army, the Navy, the Air Force.

And if you look there, you see, it's going to take quite considerable time for this to move round, if you bear in mind where they just left the Abbey and they're only now making progress towards.

BURNETT (voice over): And they're obviously going towards the Wellington Arch, which is -- was an entrance to Bucking Palace, so that the direction that they're going and then from there, obviously, would into a hearse to go further out into Windsor.

AMANPOUR (voice over): Exactly. So, they're going to go through what we call the south carriage of Hyde Park, and all of that is closed off right now, at least that road for them to go through, and then on through the roads through Kensington and Notting Hill, Holland Park, and basically the road to get to the highway and then onto Windsor, which if it's anything like we've seen in the last week or so when her body came back from Scotland that Tuesday of the previous week, people were lining up. And it was kind of grim, the weather, it was dark and it was raining, but with their umbrellas, they came up onto the banks of the highway. You saw traffic on the other side of the highway come to a halt to watch this coffin in its illuminated hearse. There were lights inside and showed the coffin.

BURNETT (voice over): There we see, Richard.

QUEST: There you are. It's crossing the road.

AMANPOUR (voice over): Erin --

BURNETT (voice over): Yes.

AMANPOUR (voice over): -- as you watch the queen's family and all the people and these sailors who are pulling it --

BURNETT (voice over): There it is right now, right? We are seeing the coffin right behind us, right?

AMANPOUR (voice over): -- it's because of what she gave to this country, her undevoted and undivided service for so long. It's really interesting reflection that the queen herself made when she addressed the Sandringham Women's Institute for their centenary. She did it regularly in 2019. She was talking about lessons learned over the eras, from the post-war era when she first came to the throne to now. And she said, as we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view, coming together to seek out the common ground and never losing sight of the bigger picture. To me, these approaches are timeless and I commend to everyone.

And as you can see the limousines full of the royal family, the queen consort, the princess of Wales and you ask why this moment has caused so much attention all over the world, it's because people remember her as somebody who is not just this matriarch but also above the political fray, so that she was able to embrace and enact not just in this country but all around the world. That's what the president of the United States has said and that's what so many previous presidents have said after meeting her, that she was always an experienced, willing ear who didn't get down into the nitty-gritty of partisan politics.

BURNETT (voice over): Richard, as we see this, and the procession on the side, the people, and I know we all have been out and walking and seeing. And on this route, what I saw yesterday, people camping, people with blow-up mattresses, people there for this moment to witness it. And what stood out to me was the diversity of the crowd that was there, and so many people showing up sitting next to a person they've never met before, and the diversity of the people who had come to pay homage truly was notable.


QUEST (voice over): Yes, and people who flew in from around the world to be here, the multi-cultural, multi-racial country that Britain is at the moment.