By Carter B. Horsley
April 9, 2002. Westminster
A coffin - draped with so
brightly colored symbols and emblems and topped by a crown,
Borne so steadily, so measuredly,
into and out of the church
As erect uniforms lined
the way and heads of states bowed -
Was England's focus today
although much of the world was distracted by problems in the Mid-East.
Outside the abbey, Londoners
sang the hymns as did the royal family inside.
It was another ceremony
of state, another circumstance,
Conducted, of course, with
Befitting the celebration
of the life of the Queen Mother,
Who had died 10 days before
at the age of 101.
The pageantry of her funeral
The Archbishop of Canterbury
appropriately spoke of "strength, dignity and laughter"
And quoted Proverbs about
grace and graciousness.
With her radiant smile and
slight tilt of her head,
The Queen Mother was the
bedrock heart of England
And what remains of Western
European civilization and traditions.
She was the most beloved
woman on earth, the embodiment of nobility,
The matriarch who let her
daughter succeed her to England's throne half a century before.
Other great women may have
been more saintly or more stirring,
But the Queen Mother was
deeply cherished for being so wonderfully proper
In the most respected sense,
in the very best taste: she was the visible face of noblesse
A lone Lancaster bomber
and two Spitfire fighters crossed the Mall
As her hearst began her
last journey to Windsor Castle, a fitting tribute to her leadership
during the Battle of Britain.
The music at the ceremony
was strangely not glorious and inside the abbey ended curtly with
a trumpet fanfare
But as the coffin it was
greeted by the blaring of 128 bagpipers and a few moments later
As the cortege began to
move away a band played England's great national anthem.
The blue sashes. The ribboned
medals. The checkerboard marble floor of the abbey.
Celebrities come and go
but the simple, enduring legacy of the Queen Mother is her beatific
The smile that reassures
us that love is possible, love is real, love is important.