Queen’s memorial service briefly unites strife-torn Washington | American News

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His final gift to his many admirers in America was an hour and a half of ceremony, sanctity and peace in a city beset by strong political acrimony.

The Queen was commemorated on Wednesday at a thanksgiving service at the Washington National Cathedral, an elegant event that brought together Americans of all political stripes, forced to park their resentment at the bronze door.

It is unlikely that anyone felt a sudden need for a monarchy after 246 years of freedom. But perhaps there was also reason to reflect, in a nation where apparently everyone has an opinion on everything, about the advantages of a head of state whose duty it is not to have an opinion on anything.

It was, of course, a low-key affair compared to the Queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London. No draped coffin, no crown, scepter or orb, no members of the British royal family, not even a former US president unless you count Woodrow Wilson, who is among the more than 220 people buried here.

But the front row of the congregation included Vice President Kamala Harris, her husband Doug Emhoff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — all Democrats — seated next to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Republican and political adversary. There were cordial greetings between them.

Seated further back was Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary who infamously claimed Donald Trump’s inauguration drew the biggest crowd ever.

Such episodes were cast aside on a gloomy day in a theater fit for a queen. The National Cathedral took 83 years to build and is the sixth largest in the world. It has 112 gargoyles and 215 stained glass windows, one of which contains a piece of moon rock. At times, sunlight poured rainbow colors onto the tall stone pillars. The Queen has set foot there four times, first as a princess.

Many of the flowers and greenery that adorned the cathedral came from the British Embassy, ​​including a cutting from an oak tree the Queen planted in 2007.

Vice Speaker Kamala Harris, left to right, her husband Doug Emhoff, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sing the national anthem during the memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II .
Vice Speaker Kamala Harris, left to right, her husband Doug Emhoff, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sing the national anthem during the memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II . Photography: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

A sepulchral silence fell as the Color Guard of the British Armed Forces and the Color Guard of the United States Army roamed the nave carrying their national flags. The only sound was their polished shoes on the marble floor. Then came the tinkling of the staff bell.

Dressed in black, Dame Karen Pierce, the British ambassador, described the Queen as ‘a great friend and admirer’ of the country who has made six official visits, addressing Congress, meeting presidents and attending baseball and football American as well as commemorative events.

“She understood well the affinity between the United States and the United Kingdom, emphasizing not only our common heritage and kinship, but our common values. In Congress, she said, “Some people believe that power comes from the barrel of a gun.” We have come a better way. Our societies are built on mutual agreement, contract and consensus.’”

Pierce expressed his gratitude to the United States for its tributes to the Queen, noting that a flag had been flown at half-mast at the site of the Battle of New Orleans, the last time British and American military forces stood together. defeated as enemies.

“With her strong sense of history, I think the Queen would have liked that,” she said.

The queen, for whom faith was key, would have enjoyed hymns like Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah, I Vow to Thee, My Country and Lord of All Hopefulness. The prayers cite his son, King Charles III, and “the long and historic relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom”.

British Ambassador to the United States Karen Pierce speaks during the memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II at the National Cathedral in Washington.
British Ambassador to the United States Karen Pierce speaks during the memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II at the National Cathedral in Washington. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered the sermon at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, delivered a homily with characteristic zest for life. Paying homage to the Queen, he said: “We give thanks to God that such as she walked among us.”

When she became queen, Curry said, she swore to serve the people all her life. “She kept her word. She kept her word. We are here to give thanks to God that it is possible to serve and keep your word.

The cathedral swelled with the sound of bagpipes and drums, prayers and a choral amen. There was a rendition of the British national anthem – the first time in 70 years that the words “God save the King” had been sung on such an occasion on American soil. The stars and stripes followed.

Two hundred kilometers away, in New York, Joe Biden was addressing the United Nations about the crisis in Ukraine and preparing to meet the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss. Harris, Pelosi and McCarthy returned to their posts. The special relationship remained special, but the politics of a troubled world was about to pile up again.

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