From the joyous to the solemn, St Paul’s Cathedral in London has been the setting for national spectacle and ceremony for centuries.
On this occasion the mood was celebratory as hundreds of people gathered to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – an event the monarch would have held close to her heart due to the importance she places on her Christian faith.
While the Queen was not present for the service of thanksgiving, the enthusiasm and determination to mark the milestone and express gratitude was not diminished.
His equine-themed quips sparked smiles among the Queen’s nearest and dearest, and laughter rippled through the cathedral.
As the congregation filtered into the famous place of worship, they were met with a pleasant cool air, a welcome respite from the warm sunshine bathing the capital on Friday morning.
In the couple of hours before the service began, as people made their way to their seats – laid out in perfectly straight rows – a relaxed and contented chatter filled the historic building.
At 10.05am the first notes sounded from the cathedral’s grand organ which has been played by greats including Mendelssohn and Handel.
The music during the service bordered on the cinematic and theatrical, rising to the occasion particularly during the opening royal procession which saw the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall just before 11.30am.
The grand organ, the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth, along with the cathedral’s choir, ensured that the musical moments of the 50-minute service created a atmosphere fit for a major regal milestone.
William, Kate, Charles and Camilla joined the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence in the front row.
A short while earlier, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived hand in hand and they were seated in the second row on the other side of the aisle.
Harry and Meghan had to squeeze past his cousins Princess Beatrice and her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, and Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank, who were already seated, to get to their places.
Harry was spotted, with his mouth open, appearing to be enjoying a joke with another royal seated across the aisle.
Beatrice, sitting a few seats down, was also grinning in the same direction.
The cathedral’s ornate sculptures and carvings were drenched in sunlight from the vast windows above, while the gold paint and chandeliers twinkled.
The sartorial choices of the women present were indicative of summer’s arrival, with pastels and cerise shades of pink, bright hues of turquoise and the season’s favourite green peppering the congregation.
An array of fascinators and hats were teamed with day dresses, in keeping with classic royal occasion wear.
The altar was modestly adorned with two floral arrangements perched at either side.
The red and white blooms, scattered among greenery, were arranged by The Church of England Flower Arrangers Association.
The Queen planned to watch the service on television at Windsor Castle and she too may have chuckled at her love of horses getting a prominent mention in the ceremony.
The event was one of praise for the 96-year-old monarch, reflecting on her 70 year reign, and ahead to the future.
As the Archbishop said “there is still more to come”.