A PEOPLE’S guard of honour lined the Queen’s final journey as she arrived home to Windsor Castle for the last time yesterday.
The hearse carried her coffin up the Long Walk — a road she had often driven along herself — to the place that had been her home since childhood.
The stirring sound of bagpipes filled the air as the funeral procession turned on to the final and most poignant leg of her journey.
It was the last time her people would get to see her.
Amid the thump of guns, fired by The King’s Troop at one-minute intervals, Her Majesty’s coffin entered The Long Walk at around 3.10pm.
More than 200,000 people had gathered to watch their beloved Queen “come home”.
A sombre silence spread through the crowd, many of whom had waited overnight, as they watched the cortège slowly move along part of the famous three-mile avenue.
The vast crowd bowed their heads when Her Majesty’s coffin came into view and the procession slow-marched.
A dismounted detachment from the Household Cavalry Regiment, marching with their swords pointing to the ground, led the way.
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Then came a mounted division of the Sovereign’s Escort, resplendent in red uniforms, followed by column after column of military precision.
In total, 406 military personnel escorted Her Majesty on foot and horseback.
Hundreds of police from forces across the country were spaced ten yards apart on either side of the road, watching the crowds.
Another 477 soldiers, sailors, Royal Marines and RAF personnel watched on.
They presented arms as the coffin moved past, standing with their heads bowed and rifles pointing down.
Forty staff from the Royal Household also escorted the State hearse.
The crowd gently applauded as the vehicle — covered in flowers tossed by well-wishers — edged towards the castle.
As the cortège neared Cambridge Gate, kilted members of a massed pipes and drums band of the Coldstream Guards and the Household Cavalry played a stirring tune.
The castle’s Sebastopol bell also rang — something that only happens when a British monarch dies — as the hearse ended its journey.
Flights to and from nearby Heathrow were paused and the procession entered the castle grounds at 3.40pm.
Many well-wishers braved the cold overnight to get a front row seat to history.
Tents were banned, so most slept in camping chairs or on blankets, huddled together with flasks of tea and soup.
As the funeral began in London, young and old had stood in awe as the Westminster Abbey service was shown on giant TV screens and heard on huge speakers.
Later, as the cortège entered the Long Walk, the screens were switched off and those gathered were able to bid their final farewells as Her Majesty’s coffin passed by.