Lord Lieutenant reflects on ‘historic but deeply moving occasion’

On her return from the state funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth ll, the Lord Lieutenant of County Londonderry, Mrs Alison Millar, has been reflecting upon her experience at this sad but historic occasion.

Mrs Millar was the late Queen’s and subsequently now King Charles lll’s representative in the County.

“I felt hugely privileged to attend both the Lying-in -State in Westminster Hall and later in Westminster Abbey for the State Funeral Service of Her Majesty The Queen,” she said.

“In the Great Hall as people filed past the coffin it was particularly moving.

Mrs Alison Millar, the Lord Lieutenant for County Londonderry

“There was a type of silence that I have not experienced before. Despite several hundred people at a time flowing down the wide steps, and filing past the coffin, there was barely a sound save for the quiet fall of their feet.

“I noticed too the softness of the light in the Hall while, in a brighter pool of light ,the draped coffin and the crown seemed so dazzling in comparison. It was just so mesmerising.

“As I arrived for the funeral service in Westminster Abbey I was directed towards the front of the nave near the quire, the architectural part of a church in which the choir resides, and found myself in the company of Lord-Lieutenants from across the United Kingdom.

“There were 2,000 guests in the Abbey but despite that I recognised a significant number from Northern Ireland.

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“So many recognisable faces from around the world and when the President of the United States, Joe Biden, passed close by me looking truly humbled, that is an image that will stay with me.

“As the Service began it struck me yet again how honoured and privileged I was to be part of this historic but deeply moving occasion.

“The music and singing resounding around the Abbey was magnificent.

“As the Service drew to a close Her Majesty’s Pipe Major played the most poignant of tunes ‘Sleep, Dearie, Sleep.’ When the pipes faded there were those around me who were moved to tears.

“It occurred to me, as the red jacketed pall bearers carried the coffin out of the Abbey that all of us there, from His Majesty the King to the wonderful (and very nervous) midwife from Newcastle-upon-Tyne that I talked to on the way in to the Abbey, were simply humbled by the dedication of Her Majesty’s life to so many, over so many years, keeping the promise she made some 70 years ago.

“We were allowed to leave The Abbey about an hour after the Service, by which time the procession, with all its dignified splendour, had moved away.

“London was surprisingly quiet as we left and in retrospect it was those moments of absolute silence amidst throngs of people in the Abbey that will always be in my memories of that day,” concluded Mrs Millar.