After passing Albert Memorial, the hearse turned left through Queen’s Gate to continue down the street that carries the gate’s name. (Click to enlarge)

A fond farewell by thousands of Kensingtonians

Thousands of Kensingtonians took a fond farewell of Queen Elizabeth II when she did her last trip thorough the borough on Monday 19 September 2022.

After the state funeral in Westminster Abbey and the grand procession up to Wellington Arch by Hyde Park Corner, her coffin was to be transferred to the state hearse for the trip to Windsor Castle and St George’s Chapel, where she would be interred with her parents, her sister Margaret and her beloved Philip. However, the exact route from Wellington Arch to Windsor wasn’t revealed until late on Friday the 16th. When it turned out that the hearse would go along South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and then down Queen’s Gate by Albert Memorial, before following Cromwell Road over to Hammersmith, thousands of Kensington residents decided to take their farewells in Kensington Gardens or Queen’s Gate – especially Kensington Gardens, while the spectators along Queen’s Gate were much fewer.

According to the official schedule, the funeral procession should reach Wellington Arch by 1pm, and most people took up their positions long before then and just waited. In Kensington Gardens, most mobile phone networks were so overloaded that it was impossible to check the progress by watching the live TV feeds. But, fortunately, loudspeakers had been put up that provided narration from one of the TV channels.

Among those waiting below Albert Memorial was a group of some 20 young Hawaiians, dressed for a traditional Hawaiian royal funeral with colourful ahu ʻula capes and kahili standards. Led by traditional kapa designer Micah Kamohoali‘i, they had actually come for the London Fashion Week, but felt that they should represent the descendants of the Hawaiian royal family when the Queen’s funeral cortège passed Albert Memorial.

The front of the procession did reach Wellington Arch at the promised time, but it took another 20-30 minutes before the tail end of it was there and the coffin could be transferred to the hearse for the final leg of the Queen’s last trip.

By 1.46pm the hearse finally reached Albert Memorial and less than a minute later it was going down Queen’s Gate, followed by two groups of cars (including a spare hearse). By 1.50pm the last car in the second group of the cortège had turned into Cromwell Road at the bottom of Queen’s Gate. During those few minutes, many thousands of pictures were taken with thousands of mobile phones as well as regular cameras.

Once the precious moment was over, everybody returned home along deserted streets. Kensington High Street had been closed off east of Kensington Church Street, and the police was in no hurry to open it up, so thousands used the street to walk back towards central Kensington in the afternoon sun.

A truly historic day was over – and most will remember it forever.

A picture gallery from the Queen’s funeral cortège along South Carriage Drive and Queen’s Gate. Click on the first one and then step through the collection to see them in full size with captions. Pictures by Thomas Blomberg, Frances Manthos and Romanos Brihi.