CUF Group Executive Director Rachel Whittington reflects on being invited to attend The Queen’s funeral

Written by: Mia Lucas-Bray on Sep 21, 2022. Category: News

It was a huge honour and a privilege to have been invited to attend this historic event. I felt humbled, excited and very surprised. The Queen was CUF’s Patron for over 30 years, but still I never expected to receive such an honour.

Upon arriving at Westminster Abbey along with other charity and community leaders, we were led to our seats. At first, the group I was with believed there had been a mistake because we were seated on the front row of the main aisle. But, when nobody came to move us along, we were reminded that the charities The Queen supported were important to her. We suspect that it was in honour of Her Majesty, her sense of duty and service, that charity and community leaders were given such a privileged position. We felt very grateful to be part of this inspiring legacy.

The diversity of the congregation was evident from the moment you walked in – from the perspectives of faith, ethnicities, and geographies. It was such an honour to remember The Queen’s extraordinary legacy with people from all walks of life coming together out of love and respect for her. It was also rather surreal experience – seeing people like Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and the King walk past you isn’t something that happens every day.

When the procession came towards the Abbey the congregation naturally fell silent, and it was quite emotional hearing the bagpipes getting louder and louder as the procession approached.

The two-minute silence was also quite moving, as it is said that silence was very important to The Queen. It felt like a great leveller - royalty, government leaders, and regular people like me – all gathered and united as one in sadness and respect.

I did have to hold back the tears when singing ‘God save the King,’ when the King, also a son who has just lost his mother, was sat just a few rows away.

In his sermon Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, reflected that: “People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer.”

At CUF, we are inspired by Her Majesty’s example and will continue to support local people to serve their communities with love.

From the BBC: Rachel reflects on her experience attending The Queen's funeral