What happened on the day of the Queen's funeral?

The Queen's funeral took place in Westminster Abbey on Monday 19 September. Elizabeth was the first British monarch to have her funeral in the abbey since George II in 1760.


On the morning of the funeral, the Queen's coffin was carried from Westminster Hall, where it had lain in state for several days, to Westminster Abbey. The arrival of the coffin occurred at 11am, and was followed by two minutes' silence.

After the funeral, the coffin was carried on a procession to Hyde Park Corner. It was then transported by hearse to Windsor Castle, which is where British sovereigns are laid to rest in the royal vault.

What hymns were sung at Queen Elizabeth II's funeral?

Hymns sung at the Queen's funeral included 'The Lord's My Shepherd', a favourite hymn of Elizabeth's. The choir and congregation also sang 'The day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended' by was written by Reverend John Ellerton in 1870, and it is set to the tune St Clement, believed to have been composed by Reverend Clement Cotteril Scholefield. This popular hymn featured in our list of the the best hymns ever.

The final hymn that was sung at the Queen's funeral was 'Love Divine, All Loves Excelling', written by the well-known Methodist leader Charles Wesley.

What other music did we hear at the Queen's funeral?

Before the service began, Westminster Abbey's assistant organist Matthew Jorysz played a selection of music including the Romanza (slow movement) from Vaughan Williams' Symphony No.5.

During the service itself, the choir sang Psalm 42 ('Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks: so longeth my soul after thee, O God), in a new musical arrangement composed especially for the service by Judith Weir.

We also heard an Anthem by composer James MacMillan, once again especially composed for the Queen's funeral. MacMillan set his Anthem music to a section from the Bible's Epistle to the Romans, beginning, 'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?'.

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After the service, we heard the Allegro Maestoso from Elgar's Organ Sonata, opus 28.

Who was responsible for the music that we heard at Queen Elizabeth II's funeral?

Westminster Abbey choirmaster James O'Donnell was responsible for the music. He also conducted the Westminster Abbey choir at the Queen's funeral. The organ, meanwhile, was played by Peter Holder, the abbey's sub-organist.

What funeral marches were played during the Queen's funeral procession?

Funeral marches were played during the processions by bands, including HM Royal Marines. The list of funeral marches to be played includes those by Mendelssohn and Chopin, plus Beethoven's three B flat minor Funeral Marches.

What hymns have been sung at previous Royal funerals?

The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, which took place with COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, was a pared-back affair without singing, but music still played a key role in the service. Four singers sung '‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save', a Naval hymn which paid homage to the Duke's naval career.

Queen Elizabeth II's father King George VI's funeral included the hymn 'The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done'. Queen Elizabeth II herself requested that Parry's prelude to 'Ye Boundless Realms of Joy' was used as the recessional voluntary in the service, in order to end the service on a more hopeful note.

Her mother – Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother – died in 2002 and her funeral featured hymns including 'Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise' and 'Guide me, O thou great Redeemer'.

Her sister Princess Margaret also died in 2002 – a month before her mother, and 50 years to the day since the funeral of her father, King George VI. The service was set around Fauré's Requiem, which was selected by Princess Margaret herself. Hers was a service filled with music, with three choirs and an orchestra, as well as performances by Felicity Lott – who sung 'Pie Jesu' – and Bryn Terfel – who was joined by the choirs in a performance of 'Libera Me'. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields was joined by the choirs of Westminster Abbey, King's College, Cambridge and St George's Chapel, Windsor.

Before the service, the orchestra played the 'Awakening' pas de deux from Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty, before the organist played music by JS Bach. After the service – in which 'Thine be the Glory' and 'Ye Holy Angels Bright' were the chosen hymns – music by JS Bach and Louis Vierne was played.

More recently, Diana Princess of Wales's funeral featured 'Guide me, O thou great redeemer' in 1997. It was accompanied by 'I vow to thee, my country', 'The King of love my Shepherd is' and 'Make me a Channel of your Peace'.


You can find lyrics to many of these hymns, as well as other favourites, here


Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.