Pocklington resident 'overwhelmed' to be invited to attend the Queen’s State Funeral

Pocklington resident, Dr Clea Harmer, was amazed - and at first disbelieving - to receive a phone call from the Cabinet Office on the Saturday after the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, telling her that she was invited to Her Majesty’s State Funeral in Westminster Abbey.
Dr Clea Harmer was a guest at the state funeral of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth IIDr Clea Harmer was a guest at the state funeral of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Dr Clea Harmer was a guest at the state funeral of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Dr Harmer, 58, said that the overwhelming and incredulous feeling was “why me?”.

It was only slowly that the information filtered out, over the week that followed, that it was part of Her Majesty’s wish to invite some representatives from ordinary walks of life, and this was to include recipients of honours in the recent Jubilee Honours List.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dr Harmer had been privileged to be awarded an MBE in the summer for her work with Sands, the charity that works to save babies’ lives and to make sure that anyone affected by the death of a baby receives the care and support that they need.

She said: “It says so much about the generosity and compassion of the late Queen that she specifically wanted to include some of us involved in charity work, in the wonderful privilege of attending her funeral”.

Dr Harmer said: “We gathered at Victoria Tower shortly before 8am and were seated by 8.30am, people were allowed to move around until 9.30am and from that point on you had to remain seated.

"When you watch on television, the cameras all have this amazing overhead position. But when you’re seated, you see the Abbey in a different way, you’re looking up at the stained glass and the ceiling.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The experience of sitting in the Nave of Westminster Abbey was, Dr Harmer said: “a truly memorable experience - totally amazing and special.

"I felt so honoured and privileged to be able to be present at the arrival of the hundreds of remarkable guests, royalty and world leaders, coming to pay their final respects to our late sovereign.

"And then of course the arrival of the coffin itself, followed by members of the Royal Family: that was a moment I will never, ever forget !”

"The atmosphere inside the Abbey Church was incredible: the quiet devotion of the congregation; the warm support and strength of sharing this experience with others; the most magnificent, uplifting music; the moving readings; the beautiful flowers; and the sense of history.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It felt as if the whole Abbey was flled with sound and people and I thought ‘this is how it should be used, as a space for people to come together.’

“I am so grateful for the privilege of being invited to be there".

Dr Harmer was keen to highlight the importance of seeking help for those affected by the death of a loved one.

She shared a message from Sands to those who are struggling alone which read: "Sad events such as the Queen’s death can bring up memories of loss which we know are difficult, and we want you to know that we are here to support anyone affected by the death of a baby.

“Our free Sands’ Helpline is available on 0808 164 3332 and you can also email [email protected] for support www.sands.org.uk/support.”