Why Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth's Funeral Location, Meant So Much to Her

·4 min read
Queen Elizabeth II seen using a walking stick as she arrives for a Service of Thanksgiving to mark the centenary of The Royal British Legion at Westminster Abbey on October 12, 2021 in London, England
Queen Elizabeth II seen using a walking stick as she arrives for a Service of Thanksgiving to mark the centenary of The Royal British Legion at Westminster Abbey on October 12, 2021 in London, England

Pool/Max Mumby/Getty

Westminster Abbey, where thousands of leaders from around the world will gather for Queen Elizabeth's state funeral on Monday, was the location of many significant milestones in the late monarch's life.

Before becoming Queen, then-Princess Elizabeth walked down the aisle at the famous London church to marry Prince Philip on November 20, 1947.  The wedding brought smiles and celebrations to the nation —  something that was certainly needed just two years after the end of World War II.

At the time of their wedding, millions of Britons were living in the aftermath of the bomb-damaged cities and coping with food rations. The wedding service was the first major event after the end of the war.

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London, England. 20th November, 1947. Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Philip Mountbatten pictured leaving Westminster Abbey after their wedding ceremony.
London, England. 20th November, 1947. Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Philip Mountbatten pictured leaving Westminster Abbey after their wedding ceremony.

Popperfoto/Getty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's wedding

For her big day, she wore a magnificent Norman Hartnell silk wedding dress featuring a 15-foot train embroidered in pearl, crystal and applique duchess satin.

"With her bridal dress and tiara on her wedding day, she was a knockout," one of her bridesmaids, Lady Pamela Hicks, previously told PEOPLE. "And, of course, Philip was every girl's dream Viking prince."

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UK, England, London, Westminster Abbey,
UK, England, London, Westminster Abbey,

Getty Westminster Abbey

Lady Pamela, who was one of eight attendants, recalled women who would send their "treasured gift" of clothing coupons to Buckingham Palace to help out with the nuptials. Although the coupons were returned, "It showed how people wanted to be involved," she said.

The Queen also celebrated another wedding day at Westminster Abbey: the April 2011 nuptials of her grandson Prince William to Kate Middleton.

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Queen Elizabeth II After Her Coronation
Queen Elizabeth II After Her Coronation

Getty Queen Elizabeth II After Her Coronation

Westminster Abbey also served as the location for Queen Elizabeth's 1953 coronation.

While she became the monarch immediately following the sudden death of her father, King George VI, in February 1952, the Queen's coronation was delayed by more than a year. She was officially crowned on June 2, 1953, in front of 27 million viewers who watched on television, 11 million who tuned in via radio and 8,000 distinguished guests who attended in person.

For the momentous event, the Queen arrived in a horse-drawn gold carriage and wore another Norman Hartnell dress that she had a hands-on role in designing. She was joined by her husband and their son, Prince Charles, who was just 4 at the time.

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Prince Philip played an instrumental part in planning the occasion, chairing the Coronation Committee, which was one of two committees created to organize the event.

In her speech, Queen Elizabeth spoke to the millions of people who were watching and listening. She said in part, "I have behind me not only the splendid traditions and the annals of more than a thousand years but the living strength and majesty of the Commonwealth and Empire; of societies old and new; of lands and races different in history and origins but all, by God's Will, united in spirit and in aim."

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"Therefore I am sure that this, my Coronation, is not the symbol of a power and a splendor that are gone but a declaration of our hopes for the future, and for the years I may, by God's Grace and Mercy, be given to reign and serve you as your Queen."

Westminster Abbey, London, During The Service Of Thanksgiving For The Life And Work Of Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate.
Westminster Abbey, London, During The Service Of Thanksgiving For The Life And Work Of Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate.

Tim Graham/Getty Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey also holds somber memories for the late monarch. In March 2022, Westminster Abbey hosted a memorial service for Prince Philip, nearly one year after his death at age 99. Although a small funeral was held for the Duke of Edinburgh at St. George's Chapel, where Queen Elizabeth will have her committal service after her state funeral on September 19, it was limited in capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions. The service at the Abbey provided an opportunity for representatives of the many charities and organizations that Prince Philip worked with to pay tribute to him.