Why Fergal Keane took over from Huw Edwards for Queen's funeral BBC commentary
Huw Edwards bowed to Fergal Keane as the broadcaster who broke the news of the Queen’s death handed over description of the funeral service itself to his BBC colleague.
Keane voiced the service after winning plaudits for his coverage of last week’s procession of the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall.
Edwards guided viewers through Monday’s procession to Westminster Abbey, with Keane, the BBC’s Special Correspondent, taking over duties as the coffin was carried into Westminster Hall.
“The queen has been borne to Westminster Abbey,” Keane told a TV audience of millions. “It is where she was married in 1947 and crowned in 1953, and where she attended royal weddings and funerals.”
The Cork-born broadcaster, who has spoken openly about the PTSD he suffered after years as a war correspondent, added: “All, as with her own funeral today, are part of the recurring seasons of death and renewal.”
Once the service began, Keane’s contribution was sombre and sparing, letting the pictures speak for themselves.
Viewers praised Keane’s “soft voice” and “gentle Irish lilt” on social media. “His tone is just right: clear, respectful but not overly treacly,” wrote one.
Edwards picked up the commentary once again for the royal party’s procession to Wellington Arch.
Edwards had earlier explained that the BBC’s policy was to avoid excessive description of the ceremonial events, performed in respectful silence.
He directed viewers to the BBC News website where they could find descriptions of the various military personnel involved in State Gun Carriage procession to the Abbey.
At 2pm, Edwards handed over coverage to Kirsty Young in Windsor, who took viewers through the coffin’s journey to the historic Castle.
David Dimbleby provided expert analysis as the coffin arrived for the more intimate committal service at St George’s Chapel.
Viewers said they hoped Edwards, an almost-continual presence on screen since announcing the Queen’s death ten days ago, would get a well-deserved break.
ITV’s coverage, simulcast across all of its broadcast channels, was anchored by Tom Bradby and Julie Etchingham.
Channel 4 did not show the funeral but offered viewers instead a historic documentary about Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation.