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CNN Live Event/Special

The State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II; Royal Family Escorts Queen's Coffin to Wellington Arch. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 19, 2022 - 07:30   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A number people who flew in from around the world to be here, the multicultural, multiracial country that Britain is at the moment.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): From the commonwealth.

QUEST (voice over): From the commonwealth and here just within the country.

The procession is now moving up Whitehall past the Cenotaph, which the war memorial, the tomb to the unknown soldier, that you can see there, where the queen over 70 years, only until the last year of her reign, each year, would lead the nation in remembrance on Remembrance Sunday in November. This year, of course, will be King Charles who will proceed --

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice over): And so interestingly, you saw when her trumpeters in the Abbey were playing their last session. And you saw their outfits emblazoned with E2R. Of course, that's the Latin for Elizabeth Regina II. And now he will be Charles Rex III, C3R is what we're going to see, rex Latin for king.

BURNETT (voice over): Yes.

QUEST (voice over): There's an interesting debate going on in Britain at the moment over how much will change in terms of postboxes, which will probably stay E2R. Currency will change in time to C3R and whether --

BURNETT (voice over): The currency will change.

QUEST (voice over): But they're very keen to point out they're not going to waste anything. Nothing is going to be thrown away. They're going to do it in a --

AMANPOUR (voice over): (INAUDIBLE)?

QUEST (voice over): Yes.

AMANPOUR (voice over): Like they would -- each time, there's this --

QUEST (voice over): Buttons will change.

BURNETT (voice over): Christiane, around, as you walk, you see shrines to the queen, you see pictures of the queen, you see retail establishments with pictures of the queen. You are saying that on this day, they all, of course, so many of them, operate at the wishes of the queen, the formal terminology for this. But this will all shift as well?

AMANPOUR (voice over): When it will, and I was listening to actually a program on the economics of all of this, which was reminding everybody that you'll go around, you see lots of crests and they say, by appointment of her majesty the queen, by appointment to the duke of Edinburgh, of course, when he was alive, by appointment to the prince of Wales, that was Prince Charles. This isn't something that is going to roll over. They have to then go and apply to get a royal crest from the new monarch and his prince of Wales, et cetera. And that's another one of those sort of anomalies that, you know, nothing is taken for granted, really. It all just shifts and changes.

BURNETT (voice over): Richard, that salute that we just saw from Prince William to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, what was the salute?

QUEST (voice over): The Cenotaph is what they're passing at the moment. It's called the Cenotaph. It's just outside the Foreign Office. And it's just -- it's all in the heart of government. And look at that, the sight of the band, the household division.

AMANPOUR (voice over): Just to say, this is all military, right? This is military precision. And just passing that Cenotaph is -- this is a fundamental and central part of British royal and military and political life. Every single year on the 11th of November, Armistice Day, the queen led dignitaries from around the world, around the commonwealth, and through all the parties and constituent parts of the United Kingdom to lay their wreaths. The war dead were key to her life and reign, the war, the post-war, honoring --

BURNETT (voice over): And defined her own life.

AMANPOUR (voice over): Yes. And it was all about honor. It defined her life.

QUEST (voice over): What is also, I think, fascinating in this procession, you have at the front, obviously, the military and the bands. Then you have the gun carriage. And following that, Erin, there is, of course, the walking royal family, the most senior members, the king, the prince of Wales. But behind that, you have the cars. And in the cars are the queen consort, Queen Camilla, the princess of Wales, the duchess of Sussex, Meghan, is with the countess of Wessex.

BURNETT (voice over): Who is a name that many watching in America may not be familiar with, but who had a deep and intimate relationship with the queen.

QUEST (voice over): What we are learning is how each of these -- I won't say minor roles because they're not, but each of these attendant royals had their own personal relationship with the queen. So, even the former duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, she would visit the queen. The countess of Wessex, Sophie, she would visit the queen at Windsor. The queen had individual relationships. And here, we see the cars carrying Camilla and --

AMANPOUR (voice over): Princess of Wales and the two kids.

BURNETT (voice over): And you see Prince George and Princess Charlotte. And we did see them.


Obviously, there was a moment, a very poignant moment, you saw Prince William with his son before him, Christiane, walking in that procession in the church. But this is a very significant moment for that young child, young boy, nine years old now, assuming his place in the royal family. You heard Justin Trudeau from Canada saying Canada, he believes, will be in the commonwealth, that his children will have a monarch, that George will play -- he will one day be king.

AMANPOUR (voice over): He is, right now, in line to be king, absolutely. And what we have learned, and I spoke to the baroness of Scotland last week, she's the secretary general of the commonwealth, and there's been quite a lot of discussion about the role of the commonwealth, the role of empire, the role of this unit in 2022.

And she reminded me that there're two different questions here. There are two different entities. One is, what is the commonwealth and who is part of the commonwealth. And they are not only former colonies who fought and won and declared their independence but there are also other countries that had nothing to do with empire that have joined the commonwealth.

BURNETT (voice over): That asked to join.

AMANPOUR (voice over): Correct. Then there are others, a handful of them, I think about 14, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a few other in the Caribbean, for instance, which still have the queen, the monarch, as their sovereign. These are the countries that have talked about whether they will stay or not, whether they will seek to be independent, republics, that have elected heads of state, or other than a sovereign.

Nonetheless, all of those who have said that they want to do that also want to stay in the commonwealth. So, it's actually slightly -- you know, slightly more complex than perhaps was being spoken about at the beginning because it's more of a cultural, political, democratic attempt to push democracy and peace.

BURNETT (voice over): And you see, Richard, we talk about 56 countries and a third of the world's population, maybe half of the world's population is going to watch some or part of this, of what this display is. And for those who think that the royal family is what they see in the tabloid or it just a titular function, what we are seeing on display is how power and precision and majesty matter. QUEST (voice over): Absolutely. This is not a soap opera. I sometimes think maybe The Crown, the program and others, have portrayed it. And there is drama, of course, because it's a family, and, therefore, there will be drama, but this is about how Britain governs itself under a constitutional monarchy. For those watching in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, it is about their role with the monarch as head of state and what that will mean and for the commonwealth with the good work that it does. But just look at this, this picture of the mile.

AMANPOUR (voice over): The thing is, Erin, that this is -- and we've said it before, this is what brands Britain. It just does. This is not just about constitutional monarchy and the complicated relationship, the sort of seamless relationship with elected government, but this is really part of the British economy, a major part of the British economy that causes people to come here. Tourism is a huge part of the British economy and this is something the British do in an unparalleled way.

But also, significantly, this harks back to a time when Britain was, A, a superpower, that's way, way long time ago, and, B, in the 20th century and part of the 21st century, pushing above its weight despite the fact that it was smaller, it was no longer an empire, it was no longer a superpower. Now, that is at risk because of Brexit, because of what's going on.

And this is -- some people have suggested, political historians and scientists, that this is a moment for Britain to reassess and maybe try to strengthen the role of what is a weakening power and to try to figure out with all this majesty, with all this ability and the military in Britain is very, very important. It's played a huge role in Ukraine, for instance. It's a very big projection of British power.

BURNETT (voice over): And we see, Richard, this is -- as you have pointed out, it is a military procession, and it is down to which members of the royal family are wearing their military attire, which are not, which medals are they donning.

QUEST (voice over): And all the rating. These are the naval ratings that are pulling the gun carriage as it pauses, as it comes underneath.

BURNETT (voice over): And where are we?

QUEST (voice over): We're going through Horse Guards' parade and through the Arch and into Horse Guards itself where the procession will cross. This is where the queen would hold the trouping of the color every year. It is the ceremonial part for -- when the queen's official birthday.


And there will be a massive display of armaments and troops. But they're all serving. They're part of the ceremonial corps, whether it would be the Household Division ceremonial or the Royal Marines band ceremonial, they are all serving men and women in the forces who see active duty.

BURNETT (voice over): Right now, all these -- every single one of them sees active duty?

QUEST (voice over): Absolutely. They take part in the ceremonial bit if you're the Household Cavalry, the blues and royals or lifeguards, but they are all serving officers in the forces. And that's very important that they will keep emphasizing that.

BURNETT (voice over): Christiane, the crown, and I know we've heard -- Max was talking about it, Anderson was going through some of the details. The crown seems, in some ways, symbolize the power, the continuity, the history and also some of the challenges you're talking about. When you look at it, you say, wow, two or three pounds of weight jewels, right, nearly 2,000 diamonds, pearls, sapphires, emeralds, five rubies, 11 emeralds, it's so specific. And in that, you see power and wealth, but you also, of course, in the genesis in some of these things, see some of the challenges at the core.

AMANPOUR (voice over): Well, you do. And, actually, the queen herself has spoken about this from the very beginning of her reign, about empire, about whatever the commonwealth is and whatever wealth Britain got from its colonial constituents. Bar all that, she believed that the ongoing commonwealth was, as she said it, not about empire. And she put it that way in her first speech in the United States in 1957. She spoke very strongly about what she felt the commonwealth should be.

But there are a lot of historians and ordinary people, obviously, citizens who want to see a further debate after this ceremonial period is over to see where, indeed, that's all going to lead. Prince Charles, when he was Prince Charles, I use that title advisedly because he wouldn't do it as king, he, when he went to Barbados to oversee the removal of the queen as sovereign and the introduction of a president as their head of state in Barbados. He said then that -- he called it the appalling legacy of slavery and used the word, atrocity, and he talked about free and independent nations.

So, I think it's a really important moment, and they've spoken a lot about that part of history, which is a right and just conversation that's happening all over the world.

BURNETT (voice over): Oh, it is. It is. But interesting it's happening in the context here of not erasing or dismantling but owning the past.

QUEST (voice over): This was always going to be the moment -- the inflection moment in a sense for the different countries. So, in Australia, where there was a referendum some years ago, and they decided to stay with the monarchy, there's a view that they will be -- there was never going to be a change there during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. But Australia and all these other countries will now start to begin that process or thought. But today, everybody is on message, in a sense.

BURNETT (voice over): And it is a day to have this tribute and, obviously, we're sort of almost just after the first step here because we are going to witness this procession through the Wellington Arch and then all the way to Windsor for the middle ceremony for the actual coffin being lowered into the ground.

But when you stand there along that mile and going there yesterday, I know you all, of course, see it day in and day out, you cannot help but be struck by the broadness of that boulevard, by the size of the flags, by the power that is conveyed --

AMANPOUR (voice over): And, I mean, we're seeing it slightly empty of masses right now. They're, of course, because they're kept to the side, you've seen the procession come down. But so many times in the past, you've had, well, from her youth, the queen's youth when she was just a teenager at the end of the war, she stood on that balcony with her parents, queen and king, George VI and Elizabeth and her sister, and I think Winston Churchill as well, those immense seas of people who came out to celebrate the end of World War II, what she and her family had lived through.

And that view from the palace down the mile all around the Victoria Statue, which you just saw, has been emblematic and symbolic of all the milestones and changing eras in this sovereign's reign, whether it's even for her jubilees. She just celebrated a few months ago her platinum jubilee, 70 years on the throne. And that place was jam packed in the streets.


And there were bands and people and rock music and the lot. And it was just phenomenal but that is the gathering place in London.

BURNETT (voice over): Richard, you see here, right, all the medals adorning their uniforms.

QUEST (voice over): So what we have here are the various leaders of the British Army. You've got the chief of the defense staff, you have the major generals of the Household Division, the guards of kings at arms, there you have the mounted division, the blues in royals. And then behind that, you have the coffin. And behind that, you have members of the household walking behind the royal family.

Everybody who is in this procession is there for a reason, either because of military or because of royal family or because of service to her majesty the queen.

BURNETT (voice over): And there are thousands involved in the procession itself, right?

QUEST (voice over): Absolutely. Because you have to represent not only -- there you have the Grenadier Guards as they march. Yes, you do. Because what you have is the representation of the senior branches but at the same time all have to be represented.

And then you have the commonwealth, which, of course, is represented through the Canadian Mounted Police and the George Cross Foundation. BURNETT (voice over): And they are so central, the Canadian Mounted Police, as we watch this here, right front and center, Christiane. And it is when we saw Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, attending in Westminster Abbey, the funeral with his wife Sophie. He said in his comments that he had real, deep, thoughtful conversations with the queen about global affairs, Ukraine, climate change. And he talked about her thoughtfulness and perspective in the sweep of history. But what stood out to me was the depth of their relationship.

AMANPOUR (voice over): And you know what it goes back to, as he pointed out, to when he was a child when his father, Pierre Trudeau, was the queen's prime minister of -- the commonwealth prime minister -- the elected prime minister of Canada, you know, before her. And that's what's so interesting, as we see all this homage, all this formality, all this majesty, the queen has accumulated 70 years of knowledge and experience with all the world leaders.

BURNETT (voice over): And as we watch this on the mile, I know Matthew Chance is there. I believe, Matthew, right, as the procession is about to reach where you are, sort of the somber moment, we're hearing the bells here behind us. What is it like with the people where you are as they await this view of the queen, this final view?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Erin, it's a really extraordinary experience. I mean, there are tens of thousands of people here that have made this active pilgrimage really to come and pay their respects and bid a final farewell to Elizabeth II.

And as I talk to you now, the queen's casket, the crown resting on top of it, is moving very slowly on that gun carriage right past us. If I turn around, look at the expression on people's faces, everybody has got their cell phones out and everybody is just trying to capture what they regard as a moment of incredible history for this country.

I mean, it's interesting, it's also a period of transition as well. And that's been underlined by some of the events that we've been seeing unfolding here in front of us over the past several days. There was the minute of silence. And I was watching people during that minute of silence. They had their heads bowed for that whole period and they've been very patient and silent throughout. But for that whole period, that whole minute, people were looking at the ground in silence.

And then the national anthem was sung, of course, with the lyrics, God Save the King, not God Save the Queen, which is very unusual if you're British and you've only known God Save the Queen. And after that, there was a spontaneous round of applause that broke out and rippled through the crowd. And so it was a remarkable moment to illustrate that this isn't just about closing the door on one era, the Elizabethan -- the second Elizabethan era in this country, it's also about opening the door on a new one, Erin.

BURNETT (voice over): And, Matthew, of course there is the coffin on the gun carriage, and then you talk about the new era. But for so many there, they are now having an opportunity to see the royals who are walking. Of course, the king, and the princes, and also we're looking at, of course, the countess of Wessex and Camilla, the queen consort in that car, Kate Middleton, the princess of Wales, they will see all of that right behind where you are momentarily, I believe, yes?


CHANCE (voice over): That's right. The cars are moving past us now following the gun carriage, in which the queen's casket is being pulled up the mile for the last time towards Buckingham Palace, of course, where it will be transferred to a hearse and will go on to Windsor Castle for the burial.

But it's -- again, it's so remarkable to be able to witness this up close. And that's why so many tens of thousands have come here for the short glimpse that they can get standing on the side of the mile. They could have watched this on their television sets, of course, at home, but people have undergone quite a lot of hardship actually so that they could be there and witness this in person.

I mean, I was speaking to some people earlier, and, of course, there are many people in this position, this woman, this old lady, she had been standing for 13 hours in that line to pay her respects in Westminster Hall to the queen's casket. And she's come here again this morning, since early this morning, to do the same thing again. Because, obviously, people didn't know the queen personally for the most part in this country, but it's incredible that people feel such a connection to her. They feel that she has touched their lives, that she has been with them as a continual presence for the past -- well, for the whole of their lives. And so that's really something quite amazing to watch.

BURNETT (voice over): It has been. And I know along the mile last night meeting people, met three women, they're there, they're camping out. One had been there two nights. Others had brought blow-up mattresses. And also what stood out was the children, people camping out with their children to give them the chance to have this opportunity to see something that meant so much in their lives.

The procession, as we're seeing now, of course, is heading still from Westminster Abbey now down the mile to the Wellington Arch, which was an entrance to Buckingham Palace, and that's where Nina Dos Santos is.

Nina, what are you seeing where you are?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPEAN EDIT (voice over): Thanks very much, Erin. Well, we can see the procession arriving here at Queen's Garden outside Buckingham Palace. And if you can see the Grenadier Guards, we've also seen the Scots Guards parading, and, in fact, the parade was started just a few minutes ago by the Royal Navy cadets, as they were the first to arrive here.

What we're expecting is the King's Guard to give a royal salute from the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. I don't know whether you can see in some of these images, but very unusually, the main gates to Buckingham Palace are actually open. And earlier, we saw the staff from the royal household file out and line up presumably to bow to her majesty's coffin as it passes by.

Buckingham palace had 491 staff in all the royal palaces and royal households serving her majesty the queen, 188 bedrooms alone in Buckingham Palace are dedicated to staff, and many of those will be wanting to pay their respects.

In terms of the atmosphere here, I can tell you it is electric, dignified and also extremely quiet. It has been like that for the last two hours, even during the funeral service itself, which was broadcast here to the crowds on loud speakers. You could hear a pin drop. Nobody said a word. Everywhere you go is extremely respectful. And now, they're waiting, of course, for the coffin to pass through here before making its way up to Wellington Arch, just about half a mile away. Erin?

BURNETT (voice over): Just about half a mile away. Nina, thank you so much, as they're making their way there to Wellington Arch, where then the queen's coffin will be put into the hearse to begin the next stage of this journey out to Windsor, where there will be another procession and a ceremony. And that, of course, is where you are Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): It is, Erin. You cannot help but think of the tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands who have now lined up to see the queen lie in state but who also have lined the mile there, or lining here in Windsor, anywhere they can to get a glimpse and to be a part of this history. This is something that we have never seen in our lifetime. And they will be able to tell their children and grandchildren about it.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): I think that's right. And look at all those different types of uniform reflecting the commonwealth, not just the United Kingdom today, also the National Health Service, as we were saying earlier on, talking about more recent crises and the way the queen intervened basically at that time and gave this amazing address to the nation, didn't she, from Windsor Castle, where we are, where she really got everyone behind the lockdown, which is something Boris Johnson at the time asked her to do.


We're seeing the procession go past Buckingham Palace, which, of course, is the seat of British monarchy. She hasn't spent much time there in recent years. She was never particularly fond of it, I don't think. Actually, Anderson, she was always revert to going to Windsor when she was down the southeast of England.

COOPER (voice over): What was it about Buckingham Palace?

FOSTER (voice over): Well, it is quite an austere place to live. It feels quite corporate when you're inside. It's currently being completely refurbished, so Charles will have something different when he goes there. But she loved her horses. And in Windsor, she was able to ride her horses, even though there's a riding school and horse stables behind Buckingham Palace.

COOPER (voice over): Windsor is also where -- I mean, during the war, she started to come as a child.

FOSTER (voice over): She did, and this is where she was protected.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR (voice over): Where she was protected. And she did her first ever broadcast from here when she was just 14 to the children who have been evacuated to America and Canada. And she said that it's for the children of the future to make the world a better place. And that is what she tried to do. I think of President Biden talking yesterday about how she tried to improve things, we were all better to have known her and really thinking about how the emphasis on service, we saw that wonderful service in Westminster Abbey drawn from the 1662 prayer book and the archbishop of Canterbury talking about her life of service.

And that's really been such a constant in what we've talked about over the last ten days, her service and how she said to the commonwealth, as you were just saying, Max, that she committed her heart and soul every day.

And I think about how she, too, served in the forces. She served in World War II as trainee ambulance driver to drive men from the front to the hospitals. And that's why veterans and military men and military service women have always been so important to her and why she want them to have a key role today.

COOPER (voice over): It's so extraordinary today to see the procession heading toward as it nears Buckingham Palace, this place which -- though she may not have loved it as much as Windsor or others, spent so much time. And it is so iconic and we think of the queen when we think of the Buckingham Palace. This will be the last time she will be near Buckingham Palace.

FOSTER (voice over): And you wonder what happens to Buckingham Palace now. I mean, certainly, in my view, there a lot of tourists come to -- probably the most visited tourist attraction in London. They come because of that idea that the monarch could be tweaking a curtain or could drive in or out at any time. But I don't think King Charles is particularly fond of it either, and he's still living at Clarence House.

COOPER (voice over): Explain where Clarence House is in relation to Buckingham Palace.

FOSTER (voice over): So, they're marching currently past Clarence House. It's a two-minute walk. It's along the mile. It's connected to St. James' Palace. It's beautiful inside. It feels like a country vicarage, if I can call it that, in the middle of London. And Prince Charles, as he was, really created this sanctuary of a garden. He's very into gardening and it's just to the left of where you're looking at now there. And that's -- he's very happy there. And that's where the queen mother was as well. So, they've got all of these properties. They now need to really think about how they're going to redistribute it.

COOPER (voice over): So, it's possible that King Charles will stay living at Clarence House and not move into Buckingham Palace? FOSTER (voice over): I think it's very possible that it will become effectively an office space for the monarchy and a headquarters. Of course, he'll have his place he can stay there but I don't know how likely that is. You have got the state departments, which will always be useful to greet heads of state and members of the public, the garden parties out in the back. But you wonder how they'll actually use it longer term.

COOPER (voice over): It is just -- I mean, as an American to watch this, this is just not something we have in the United States, a public ceremony like this, obviously with our history not being as deep, as long as British history.

FOSTER (voice over): But I think it reflects two things, as you say, not quite the same length of history in terms of what you're seeing, but also the fact that no written constitution here. So, all of these things actually end up becoming part of our constitution, how we do things, what order people are walking in here defines what order they are in the power structure. And all of this comes together to tell us what to do when there's a challenge coming up.

But I'm often asked when there's a hung parliament or when there's all sorts of situations in America with very clear solutions to that. We don't even have a system for if the prime minister becomes incapacitated. We sort of make it up as we go along. So, when Boris Johnson was in hospital during COVID with COVID, he just appointed his deputy prime minister, but that isn't actually a formal role, the deputy prime minister. We just sort of make it up.

And what it all comes down to is we have got a monarch who ultimately would have to make a decision if government couldn't, which is how the system works. And we say, do they have any authority, but, ultimately, they do if anything falls apart.

WILLIAMS (voice over): And it's just so -- it's so moving, I think, looking at the Royal Navy soldiers.


When you think that the queen -- she first met Prince Philip when she visited the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, where he was the top cadet.