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A small symbol of thanks to a Royal who touched the hearts of us all

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AS the funeral of the Queen Mother took place in Westminster Abbey yesterday, Peterborough stood in silent tribute. Aranda Garrard joined the crowds.

AS the funeral of the Queen Mother took place in Westminster Abbey yesterday, Peterborough stood in silent tribute. Aranda Garrard joined the crowds.AS the funeral of the Queen Mother took place in Westminster Abbey yesterday, Peterborough stood in silent tribute. Aranda Garrard joined the crowds.

IT was about as far away from the pomp and pageantry of what was going on in London as it was possible to get.

But the atmosphere in Cathedral Square was no less respectful.

As a rocket was fired from the top of the Town Hall to mark the start of a minute-long silence, shoppers stopped in their tracks.

There had been no warning, no carefully-worded message asking them to partake in the moment of remembrance.

But it didn't matter. They put down their plastic bags, containing pints of milk and loaves of bread, and bowed their heads.

It was a small symbol of thanksgiving to the life of a woman who they had probably never met.

From bank workers to Big Issue sellers, school children to pensioners, those who had stopped in the square appeared to sum up the city's every race and creed.

Some stood watching the funeral procession on television screens in shop windows, others gathered to say prayers at the city's cathedral.

For me, the moment brought back memories of the only time I saw the the Queen Mum in my birthplace of Newcastle.

I was six-years-old, and I stood among some daffodils at the side of the road and waved a small Union Jack flag as she went past in a chauffeur-driven car on her way to open a local garden centre.

She even waved back to the masses of school children who were there on the day. It may have been many years ago, but it has remained a special moment to me.

Yesterday, I looked up and down Bridge Street and not a soul moved.

It was a moment the like of which the city will probably never see again for a long time, as young mums clasped their arms around their children, elderly people stood with their handkerchiefs to their eyes, and even the traffic flow in the

distance seemed slower than usual.

After the second rocket was launched to mark the end of the silence, the mood changed once more, and the hustle and bustle of city life began again.

But those people still in Cathedral Square that I spoke to wanted to talk about the Queen Mother they admired.

They talked of her courage during the Second World War, her battle to overcome illness and of how she had lived an extraordinary life to the

full.

It just went to prove that even though the Queen Mother was born into a life of privilege, she knew how to touch the hearts of all of us.

400,000 packed the streets

MILLIONS watched yesterday as the Queen Mother's coffin was taken to Westminster Abbey on the same gun carriage used for her husband George VI's funeral 50 years ago.

As reported in later editions of The Evening Telegraph, nine senior members of the Royal Family walked solemnly behind the coffin in a military procession of impressive pageantry.

Prince William (19) and 17-year-old Prince Harry were in their great-grandmother's funeral cortege with their grieving father, Prince Charles, and aunt, the Princess Royal.

The Duke of Edinburgh led the Royal mourners who also included the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, Viscount Linley and Peter Phillips, the Princess Royal's 24-year-old son.

They passed thousands of ordinary people, many of whom had queued since dawn to pay their last respects. Police estimated up to 400,000 people had flocked into the capital.

Last to arrive at the abbey ahead of the cortege was the Queen.

Guests at the service included Baroness Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, while also in attendance were Prince Charles's companion Camilla Parker Bowles, General Mike Jackson, who led the UN forces in Kosovo, and the novelist Dick Francis.

As many as 35 members of the Royal Family and 25 foreign royals, as well as overseas dignitaries including America's First Lady, Laura Bush, also attended.

The Queen Mother was later buried in a private family service at Windsor Castle alongside her late husband and the ashes of her daughter, Princess Margaret.

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