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‘End of an era’: how the Queen’s funeral was seen around the world

From Melbourne To Paris, New York To Delhi, The Solemn Events In London Resonated Around The Globe

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A passenger at Paris’s George V station, which was renamed for the day of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral. Photograph: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA

Melbourne: As the doors to Westminster Abbey opened to allow guests to take their seats, across the other side of the world, Australians sat down in front of their TVs to watch the historic event.

English pubs in the central business district of Melbourne were largely empty as they broadcast the funeral on big screens.

Rick Tonk, from West Yorkshire, was watching at the Charles Dickens Tavern with his parents. “We’ll spend some time here just taking in the atmosphere and we’ll be able to say goodbye,” Tonk said. “It’s been very solemn, for a lot of people around the world. They’ll be watching.”

He said it had been strange to be so far away from home as such a historic event unfolded, and while the Queen’s death was not a complete shock, it still felt like it had come out of nowhere.

“It’s really the turning of a page, the dawning of a new age – just saying goodbye to the one person who has been our monarch for so long,” Tonk said.

The tavern’s owner, John Davie, said the coverage leading up to the funeral had “watered down” interest in Australia. “The coverage it’s had leading up to probably the most important day of the lot, it’s probably not done it a service,” Davie said. “Whereas in the UK people are queueing for days to pay respects. I think people here are just a little bit burnt out. It’s a lot to take in.”

The pubs might have been quiet but Australians across the country – both monarchists and republicans – tuned in to watch. Some wanted to just “watch the historical moment” while others marvelled at the ceremony.

“Imagine having responsibility for the seating plan for this,” tweeted Ebony Bennet, the deputy director of the Australia Institute.

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People watching the Queen’s funeral at Federation Square in Melbourne. Photograph: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Earlier in the day, some churches organised small services so they did not clash with the funeral.

Priest Jennifer Furphy, 68, of St Agnes Black Rock, led her congregation in prayer for the Queen, read out snippets from some of her Christmas speeches and talked about what her death meant.

“We talked about how we really wanted to honour her memory and her Christian faith, and how she had lived a life of service to her country and the commonwealth,” Furphy said. “Parishioners here are migrants from England, they have family there and real connections with the culture. I think it was important to honour that.”

Furphy said it was a moment in history she wanted to respect, while also acknowledging that for many First Nations Australians, the crown and its handover recalled a painful past of colonialism.

For many Australians in her generation, especially working women, the Queen was also a symbol of strength, juggling her role as monarch and mother. “I’ve always felt the Queen was a good leader, and I’ve always felt it was good to be led by a woman,” Furphy said. “It’ll be quite different to have a king now.” Cait Kelly

Paris

The French republic has shown remarkable interest in the death and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II over the last 11 days. Emmanuel Macron paid an emotional and respectful tribute to the British monarch, saying that for the French she was simply “the” Queen, and tweeted a black and white film of Elizabeth at the Élysée and with successive presidents, with the simple message: “Thank you, Your Majesty.” The film began with the Queen wishing long friendship between the two countries.

TF1, one of the main French TV channels, broadcast a special edition called L’Adieu covering the entire funeral with solemn French translation and a British commentator, who admitted singing God Save the King in the studio when it was sung in Westminster Abbey. The channel had several reporters along the route of the procession.

The Paris Metro station George V was temporarily renamed Elizabeth II 1926-2022.

Many people in France felt the French reaction to the Queen’s death laid to rest the question that Liz Truss, the UK prime minister, seemed incapable of answering: is Macron “friend or foe”. Peter Ricketts, a former British ambassador to Paris, was on French television saying Truss had made a “serious error”. “It’s time to rectify this and confirm that we are friends and allies,” he said.

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People watch the Queen’s funeral at the Cricketer pub in Paris on Monday. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

Several national and local newspapers once again devoted their front pages to the royal farewell. The headline in Le Parisienwas “Elizabeth II: the funeral of the century”. The newspaper said: “The whole word looks to London today where the funeral of the Queen will be held.”

Le Figaro’s front page had a picture of the coffin and the headline “The Whole World Gathers in Memory of Elizabeth II”.

French journalists interviewed people outside the abbey, on the route of the funeral cortege and in pubs along the route.

It did not escape commentators’ notice that the funeral cortege came to a halt at Wellington Arch, a reminder of the Duke of Wellington and his defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte and the French at Waterloo.

Some remarked with clear admiration on British phlegm and the ability to queue patiently for long periods. Kim Willsher

New York

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Watching the Queen’s funeral at the Churchill Tavern in New York. Photograph: Adam Gabbatt

It has been almost 250 years since the US announced its independence from the British monarchy, but in New York City on Monday morning there was plenty to suggest that some affection remains.

A mix of American royal family enthusiasts, flag-bearing British tourists and scurrying local TV journalists filled the Churchill Tavern, a British bar a few blocks south of the Empire State Building, to watch the Queen’s funeral, the crowd observing an hour of hushed silence as the monarch was sent on her way.

Despite the early hour – the Churchill opened at 5.30am – seating was in short supply, with standing room only as people continued to arrive. Mourners were welcomed by a lifesize beefeater figurine outside, and a sombre, respectful atmosphere.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the bar quiet for an hour and 10 minutes before, ever – nor would you ever really want it to be – but there was something quite surreal about that, and very respectful, and deeply moving, actually,” said Sinead Naughton, an Irish woman who owns the Churchill with her British husband.

A typical midtown Manhattan establishment, with a long wooden bar stretching down one side and scattered seating opposite, the Churchill is set apart from other watering holes by its swathe of Queen Elizabeth photos and paintings.

Naughton said many regular customers were British, and the bar has been open for every major British event since it opened 11 years ago. Naughton said she felt “we had to” open for the funeral.

Early on, there was chatter among the customers, but as the Queen’s coffin was carried towards Westminster Abbey the bar fell silent. By 6am, when the service started, there was only the occasional clink of coffee cups from the bar as staff kept the patrons fuelled.

Some of those present had dressed for the occasion, including Jean Shafiroff, who was sporting a large black hat. Shafiroff, an American who serves on the board of several charities, said she had met Prince Harry in 2019 at a charity event in London. She attended Margaret Thatcher’s funeral in 2013, but she said “the Queen’s funeral is a harder invitation to procure”.

She said: “Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II was a great role model for all people around the world. Her 70 years of service was extraordinary. We need more role models such as she.” Adam Gabbatt

Kenya

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday was met by a fairly muted response in Kenya, a stark contrast to the flurry of reactions that followed news of her death, which elicited both mourning and anger in the east African country.

Kenya’s president, William Ruto, joined other world leaders in attending the Queen’s funeral, and the service was streamed on major news networks. But while her sending-off seized the attention of much of the world, it didn’t garner much national interest. On the streets and online, it was mostly business as usual.

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch became Queen in Kenya after she received news of her father’s death while on royal tour with her husband, Prince Philip. Some Kenyans remember the Queen’s “fairytale” first visit fondly.

“It’s the end of an era,” said Paul Ochieng, 49. “We grew up watching the Queen, and she became Queen here, so there’s a bit of a soft spot for her.”

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Guests attend a live screening of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral at the British high commissioner’s residence in Nairobi, Kenya. Photograph: Monicah Mwangi/Reuters

But for others, she was a painful reminder of Britain’s brutal colonial past, when nearly 1.5 million Kenyans were forced into detention camps and subjected to torture and other atrocities in the 1950s during the British empire’s crackdown on the Mau Mau – Kenyan freedom fighters who opposed colonial rule. The violent suppression of the Mau Mau took place at the start of Elizabeth’s reign, and many of the crimes were committed in her name. Faced with legal pressure, the UK government agreed, in 2013, to pay £20m pounds to Kenyan torture victims.

“We are being gaslit to mourn someone who watched over our collective suffering,” said Suhayl Omar, 24, a Kenyan researcher with the Museum of British Colonialism. “The fact that Kenyan leaders saw it fit to declare national mourning is an indication of the continued cycle of colonial violence that we continue to face.” Caroline Kimeu

India

Just as response to the death of Queen Elizabeth II was muted in India, there was little commotion around her funeral. Unlike other countries in south Asia that sent their heads of government to attend the funeral, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, did not attend, and instead the ceremonial head of state, President Droupadi Murmu, travelled to the UK. The funeral was not broadcast on any Indian networks and there were no public screenings.

However, there were some in India who watched it online from the privacy of their own homes. Alexander Balakrishnan, 24, a student in Delhi, who was born in the UK but moved back to India when he was four, said he had always been an avid watcher of all royal events, from the weddings to jubilees, as it gave him a sense of connection to where he was born.

“I’ve been glued to the television for the past 10 days, watching coverage of the queue and all the people sharing their memories of the Queen,” said Balakrishnan. ‘“I thought the funeral was very moving and simple, which I guess is how she wanted it. There was a sense of finality; you really felt that this was the last goodbye. It was sad but you also know that she lived this great, full life.”

Balakrishnan said the British monarchy remained a divisive institution in India. “I think 50% of people see the royal family as just a symbol of the empire; they think we are done with them, there’s no patriotism or connection left to them in India. The other 50% see them as ultra-celebrities. So some people here are mourning the Queen as the most famous person in the world.”

The muted response to the Queen’s funeral in India was in part due to this complex legacy, said Balakrishnan, but he believed it also had more cultural factors.

“I think one of the reasons there has been so little response to the funeral here is because people in India are so used to getting funerals done so quickly,” he said. “It’s either the same day or the next day, so this idea that it’s 10 days later is hard for people to relate to.”

Yasmin Kaura, 43, a pilates teacher in Delhi, was among those who had been moved by the Queen’s death and who watched the funeral privately at home.

“I’ve felt very sad the last few days when I was watching people pay their respects,” she said. “But today during the funeral, I felt like everybody was ready to say goodbye. Even in that cathedral, which usually seems so large and intimidating, somehow it felt small and cosy, like a very intimate funeral.”

Kaura added: “Through wars and pandemics and tabloid nonsense, she never let it provoke her and she stood strong through it all. And let’s not forget, Queen Elizabeth was always a woman in a man’s world but she never let it show. It’s hard not to admire that. There’s not going to be a queen for at least another generation, and I don’t know if anyone will do it as well as her again.” Hannah Ellis-Petersen

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A man offers flower petals in front of a picture of late Queen Elizabeth II near the Victoria memorial in Kolkata. Photograph: Piyal Adhikary/EPA

Jamaica

Bishop Herro Blair, who met the Queen twice, woke up at 3.30am on Monday to make sure he did not miss a minute of her final send-off.

“I was touched by the sombreness of the moment,” the 76-year-old said by phone from Kingston. “It didn’t matter who it was from, whatever country it was, everybody was so dignified. Everybody paid homage; everybody honoured her the way she should be honoured.

“I could have shed a tear; my eyes were wet because I was touched, not just by her hands but by her life.”

The Queen ascended to the throne in 1952, a decade before Jamaica gained independence from Britain. Many on the Caribbean island now want to sever ties with the monarchy. Given that Jamaica’s time zone is six hours behind the UK’s, the state funeral was mainly a draw for early birds and diehard royalists.

Blair, the president and founder of the Deliverance Evangelistic Association, added: “I would take a guess that most Jamaicans woke up for it this morning. I believe that although we are moving to a republic some time sooner or later, the majority of Jamaicans still, if they do not love the monarchy, love the Queen.”

However, Carrol Richard, a spiritual life coach, noted that many associate the royal family with British colonialism and slavery. She said: “There are a lot of people who are still disappointed – and disappointment goes to varying degrees of anger – with what they felt the Queen stood for and what they felt she should have stood for. People like that would probably not even look at the funeral.”

Richard, 63, did tune in and was awed by the spectacle. “Royalty is such an amazing experience. It’s all the pomp and the order and discipline. Everybody is just extremely controlled and doing their part, but more than that, it’s the reverence that so many paid to the Queen that really stood out to me.”

Mikael Phillips, 50, an opposition member of parliament who in 2020 filed a motion backing the removal of the monarch, said: “It was an excellent send-off for someone who has served all her life as a queen and as a mother. It was done with precision and fitting for the life that she lived.

But in my mind I wondered what it would have been like if we had taken that step towards republicanism, and what does the future hold for us. It’s the end of an era for us as a country, the Commonwealth and for the British people, just considering what does the future hold and what approach the new king will take towards what is ahead of him.” David Smith

Solomon Islands

Residents of Solomon Islands with TV sets paid their final respects to its head of state, watching events in London and Windsor from the former British protectorate in the Pacific. While some people went out for their usual social activities and to enjoy the sea breeze, big screens were set up at the Anglican church compound in the capital, Honiara, for its members to pay their respects, while others went to the Pacific casino, a popular venue in the city.

One of those watching was Connie Grouse, 67, who was working for the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation at the time of the islands’ independence in 1978.

“As someone who grew up when the Queen started to reign, this is very emotional for me because I sat tonight reminiscing about my younger days, as I have high respect for the Queen,” she said. “May our Queen Elizabeth, the longest-reigning monarch, rest in peace. I am very happy that I get to witness the funeral procession of our head of state and I’m glad that I get to see this historical moment.”

The sense of history was also running through other viewers at the casino. Timothy Asi, 40, described the funeral service as a historic moment and said he felt privileged to watch. “Today is a day that I earmark as a day that will go down in history for me. I am very proud to say that when I grow old, I will sit back and gladly tell stories about the funeral to my future grandchildren.” He said he held the late Queen in high respect as head of the Commonwealth.

Wasi Vaekesa, 27, said: “Today is a sad day and a historical one for me as well.” Georgina Maka’a