DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Final curtain nears on this poignant drama

  • The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage

In death as in life, Queen Elizabeth II has demonstrated a unique ability to bind together our sometimes fractious nation.

The ten days since her passing have brought out the very best in the Royal Family and in the country.

They have emphasised our shared sense of history. They have showcased Britain’s remarkable gift for pomp and pageant.

And above all, they have served as a much-needed reminder that far more unites us in these islands than divides us.

The sheer scale of the ceremonial operation since last Thursday has been awe-inspiring.

Inevitably there have been one or two minor hitches – a malfunctioning pen here, a queueing problem there. But overall it has been a triumph of organisation.

From Balmoral to St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh to RAF Northolt, and Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, the Queen’s coffin has been borne with immense dignity.

In death as in life, Queen Elizabeth II has demonstrated a unique ability to bind together our sometimes fractious nation. The ten days since her passing have brought out the very best in the Royal Family and in the country

Yesterday’s vigil at the catafalque by her four children was especially moving and will be mirrored today in an equally emotional silent tribute by all eight of her grandchildren.

Meanwhile, the willingness of her subjects to queue in their hundreds of thousands for up to 14 hours to see her lying in state shows the love and esteem they had for her.

For King Charles, grief and loss have gone hand in hand with a hectic schedule of travelling around the country to receive condolences and solidify his position as monarch of the United Kingdom.

And he has encouraged the reconciliation of his estranged sons (for now at least), something that would have given his mother enormous satisfaction.

But in many ways it has been the royal women whose role in this poignant national drama has been most striking.

Yesterday’s vigil at the catafalque by her four children was especially moving and will be mirrored today in an equally emotional silent tribute by all eight of her grandchildren

Princess Anne, devoted daughter and most hard-working of all the royals, was at her mother’s bedside in the last hours at Balmoral and has been with her on every sorrowful step of her final journey.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who had become extremely close to the late Queen in recent years, moved graciously among the crowds of well-wishers despite finding it hard to disguise her obvious pain.

Camilla, the Queen Consort, has been a tower of strength to Charles. The new Princess of Wales, with her trademark poise, has provided similarly constant support and solace to her own husband. They have all played their parts to perfection.

So now we look forward to Monday and the biggest state occasion certainly since the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965 and probably since that of Queen Victoria more than 120 years ago.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who had become extremely close to the late Queen in recent years, moved graciously among the crowds of well-wishers despite finding it hard to disguise her obvious pain.

Crowned heads from Bhutan to Belgium will join presidents and prime ministers, courtiers and key workers in a 2,000-strong congregation at Westminster Abbey.

The service will be followed by interment with her parents and sister Margaret in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, Windsor. Prince Philip’s coffin, currently lying in the royal vault at St George’s Chapel, will be buried beside her.

Over 70 tumultuous years, the Queen has steered the monarchy though perilous times with skill and fortitude, evoking respect and affection in equal measure.

Even the heavens seem to have marked her passing, with a double rainbow appearing over Buckingham Palace and a celestial fireball seen hurtling across northern skies.

There are prosaic scientific explanations of course. But there’s no doubt these phenomena have added to the grandeur and mystique of the occasion.

They call to mind Calpurnia’s words in Julius Caesar: ‘When beggars die, there are no comets seen. The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.’ Could she have been right?

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