Westminster Abbey and its Historical Significance

Westminster Abbey and its Historical Significance

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral took place at Westminster Abbey on September 19, 2022, a historic event attended by thousands.  The funeral is the first to occur at Westminster Abbey in 262 years. The last sovereign’s funeral to take place there was the funeral of George II.

Though the Queen’s funeral marks the first monarchical funeral in more than 250 years, several notable royal memorials happened here. Princess Diana’s funeral took place here in 1997, as did the Queen Mother’s state funeral in 2002. The abbey saw the memorial service of the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret that same year, and, most recently, the memorial of Prince Philip, just this March.

  • It was late Queen’s choice of the Westminster Abbey.
  • On 20 November 1947, she married The Duke of Edinburgh here and they celebrated anniversaries including their Silver, Golden and Diamond Wedding anniversaries with services in the Abbey.
  • Queen Elizabeth’s coronation took place on 2 June 1953 and the same day she was crowned in the Coronation Chair.
  • The Queen also celebrated the weddings of two of her children and one of her grandchildren at the church.
  • As Head of the Commonwealth for 70 years, The Queen attended many Commonwealth Day celebrations at the Abbey.
  • In March of this year, she attended a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of The Duke of Edinburgh, her husband of 73 years. This was the last time she visited the Abbey.

Though the Abbey has meant so much to the queen, she will be put to rest in George VI Memorial Chapel, alongside her parents King George VI and the Queen Mother; her sister Princess Margaret and her late husband Prince Philip, who she will be buried alongside.


St George’s Chapel became the chosen burial place for the royal family in the 19th century. King Edward III founded the chapel in 1475,  The King George VI Memorial Chapel was constructed in 1969. According to the Week, the small side-chapel is set a little apart from the main Royal Vault. The vault was constructed between 1804 and 1810 and is located beneath the St George’s Chapel’s altar. The memorial chapel is just below the St George’s quire. Over 20 royals are presently buried in the vault, the first of whom was Princess Amelia, the youngest daughter of King George III.

Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday 8th September 2022. She reigned for a total of 70 years and 214 days, making her the longest-reigning monarch in British history.


Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle conducted the service. Settings of the Burial Sentences by William Croft and Henry Purcell, both former Organists of Westminster Abbey, were sung as the Procession of the Coffin moved through the Abbey. Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, preached the Sermon. The Archbishop also led the Commendation. Prayers were led by the Reverend Mark Birch, Minor Canon and Precentor, and said by representatives of the churches of the United Kingdom. The Dean pronounced the Blessing.


Among the music chosen for the State Funeral were the hymns The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended, arranged for the service by the Abbey’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O’Donnell. ike as the hart, a setting of Psalm 42 by Master of the King’s Music, Judith Weir, was composed specially for the service, as was the anthem Who shall separate us?, drawing on words from Romans 8, by Sir James MacMillan.

The anthem was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams for The Queen’s coronation in the Abbey in 1953.

The service was sung by the Choirs of Westminster Abbey and His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, directed by James O’Donnell. The organ was played by Peter Holder, Sub-Organist.

Last Post was sounded by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry before a two-minute silence, observed in the Abbey and throughout the United Kingdom.

The service came to a close with the singing of the National Anthem, before the Sovereign’s Piper, WO1 (Pipe Major) Paul Burns played the traditional lament, Sleep, dearie, sleep.


After the funeral, the Westminster Abbey Company of Ringers began ringing a full peal of Stedman Caters, lasting more than three hours. The bells were rung fully-muffled – something which only happens upon the death of the monarch. 


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