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Final chapter of remembrance: Queen Elizabeth will interred at Windsor Castle

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The state funeral is over. The long procession through London has concluded. In a final chapter of the 10 days of official mourning, Queen Elizabeth II will be interred at Windsor Castle. NPR correspondent Eleanor Beardsley is there and joins us now. Eleanor, explain the significance of this place, Windsor Castle, to the queen.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: OK. Well, Rachel, she spent her weekends here. This was said to be her favorite residence. It was a place where she could relax from her busy schedule and be surrounded by family because they all live close by. For example, William's house - Kate, their family - they're, like, a 10-minute drive. Also, she grew up here. Her girlhood was spent at Windsor. She spent the war years here. She actually made her first radio address from here in 1940 at the age of 14 to the children of London who had to be evacuated from the Nazi bombing of London. And she and her sister, Margaret, waited out the war here as well. She loved the vast grounds and the nature, the ancient trees and forests. She rode horses here at Windsor into her 90s, people say.

MARTIN: We hear a plane going overhead. So much pomp and circumstance, security.

BEARDSLEY: Yeah, that's the - there's a lot of plane traffic from Heathrow.

MARTIN: It is such a highly choreographed day, Eleanor, right? I mean, every detail has been planned for years. Tell us exactly what's expected to happen there.

BEARDSLEY: Well, the next thing that's going to happen, Rachel, is the queen's coffin is going to arrive and be put back on that gun carriage that carried her father's coffin. And she's going to make a 2-1/2-mile last ride down what's known as the Long Walk. It's the avenue that leads through the Windsor estate to the castle gates. And, Rachel, there are tens of thousands of people who have shown up to just gather on both sides of this road, in this grassy place with tree-lined. And they're waiting to see her to pay their last respects. And one of them is grandmother Beverly Robinson (ph), who got up at 5 in the morning and took a car and four trains to be here. Here she is.

BEVERLY ROBINSON: We've come from Nottingham. I'm with my son and my two granddaughters. It's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing. She's the queen - always been our queen and going to be our only queen because it'll be kings after that. So I felt it was a privilege to come.

MARTIN: Interesting to hear that particular reflection. The queen will be buried in St. George's Chapel. I mean, its history goes back nearly 500 years, includes both royal weddings and funerals - her husband's, in fact, Prince Philip. His funeral was held there last year, right?

BEARDSLEY: Rachel, it was. He died last year. And I don't know if you remember those striking images of the queen all alone at his funeral, wearing black and wearing a black face mask because it was in the midst of the COVID, you know, pandemic.

MARTIN: Pandemic, right.

BEARDSLEY: That's right. Philip was - he's actually been sort of on hold in a royal vault. His body will now be moved to lay with hers. So the love of her life, her husband of 73 years - she will be laid to rest with him in the family chapel this evening.

MARTIN: And it'll be - as opposed to the great ceremony of today at Westminster Abbey, tonight will be a far more intimate, family-centered affair, correct?

BEARDSLEY: That's right. There's going to be just the royal family and close friends and those who served her and also, you know, leaders of the Church of England. It's going to include her favorite hymns and prayers. And, Rachel, there's going to be some important gestures that will take place at the end of the ceremony, a very symbolic gesture - the crown jeweler will remove the crown, the scepter and the orb from her casket to separate the queen from her crown for the last time. And then this evening, very late, there will be a completely private ceremony of only her family. And after that, she will be put into the vault alongside her husband and also her parents and her sister, Margaret.

MARTIN: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reporting from Windsor Castle, where Queen Elizabeth II will be interred later today in a private ceremony. Thank you, Eleanor.

BEARDSLEY: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.