No one, it seems, was more stricken than Prince Charles. Dressed in his full naval uniform, the Queen Mother’s favorite grandson closed his eyes to fend off tears as he sat in the front row of Westminster Abbey for her funeral on April 9. But the Queen Mum, who had fizzed with vitality even at 101, had wanted her funeral to celebrate life rather than mourn her death. So four days before their great-grandmother was laid to rest, Princes William and Harry recalled the good times their grieving father might have struggled to voice. “She was very interested in everything we did,” Harry, 17, told Britain’s Press Association in an interview on April 5, “school or polo or anything.” William, 19, recalled how she had thrown him a send-off lunch when he left for college: “As she said goodbye, she said, ‘Any good parties, invite me down.’ I said yes, but there was no way. I knew full well that if I invited her down she would dance me under the table.”
Their affection was shared by a nation. In the days before the Queen Mother’s funeral, 400,000 lined the streets of London as her coffin was carried from St. James’s Palace to Westminster Hall, where another 200,000 waited for up to eight hours to view her casket. “It seems to take something like this,” says Jason Martin, 34, a Northampton computer consultant who was among the mourners, “to unlock the average Brit.” Known for her common touch, the Queen Mum always had a wry take on ceremony. “Anything that was meant to be formal and went wrong, she enjoyed,” William said. “She would have a good giggle.”
Even so, her final farewell was awash with pageantry. During the 10-day official mourning period, her casket was moved from Windsor—where she died on March 3—to St. James’s Palace 23 miles away, then to Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey. Finally she returned to Windsor Castle, where she was buried next to her husband, King George VI, who died in 1952. Four days before the funeral, William and Harry joined Charles, Princess Anne, Princes Andrew and Edward and cousin Viscount Linley (the late Princess Margaret’s son) for a 28-minute march behind the Queen Mother’s coffin—draped with her standard and topped with her 1937 coronation crown, featuring the famous 105-carat Koh-i-Nor diamond.
Among the 2,311 guests who filled the Abbey on April 9 were British Prime Minister Tony Blair, First Lady Laura Bush, dozens of foreign dignitaries and 25 of the world’s royals. In his sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, explained the global outpouring: “Like the sun, she bathed us in her warm glow. Now that the sun has set and the cool of the evening has come, some of the warmth we absorbed is flowing back towards her.”