Funeral Procession

The funeral procession started at 4:00 in the morning. Buzz and Maude had been up since 3:00. There was a long shot up a cobbled street into a palace. All the channels were carrying it, commentators stumbling through the silence. A church bell tolled every minute. Mounted horses appeared and then, on a gun carriage, the coffin covered in white flowers. The pace of the cortege was squashed in the zoomed image, the tolling of the bell and the horses’ hooves clip-clopping, somehow all the more beautiful. A woman screamed, “Diana! Oh, Diana!” Flowers and bouquets were tossed at the coffin, toppling off and falling short. Screenshot (44)The streets were packed, many standing, others running alongside the barricades. There was only the bell and the hooves. Maude was asleep on his chest. He was transfixed by this slow play, simple, the glamorous reduced to such a quiet and regretful scene. The cortege approached Buckingham Palace. The royal family were waiting at the gates. The queen bowed purposefully. Five men followed the coffin: the king, the prince, Diana’s brother and two sons. “Oh, look at them,” Megan cried. “The poor boys.” The cortege came to Westminster. Six Royal Guardsmen struggled to bring their coffin to the shoulders and then carry it inside. It was a long service with hymns and readings. Buzz dozed. When he awoke, Elton John was singing a pop sing. And then there was a final hymn, and again the Guardsmen with the coffin and at the great front doors where they waited in silence. Megan sighed. Early morning light trickled into the living room. diana-death-cbc75_16x9_xtraxtralarge_1A peal of bells poured out of the church as the Guardsmen carried the coffin to the hearse. It eased into the crowded streets, flowers raining down, single roses and gargantuan bouquets. The windshield wipers swung back and forth to clear the windscreen. The crowds grew. Buzz dozed again and awoke to see the car, thick in flowers, slip through the gates of a country estate and vanish from sight. Megan was asleep.* Extract from Buzz (1999)

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