The Queen Mum in Her Own Words

GM History
CBS/The Early Show
"You can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile because she has lived." Those modest little lines were chosen by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother herself, for her own funeral - just ended.

The rich ceremonial is over, the polished soldiers are back to their barracks, and the lady herself is now making the final journey, right now, behind me, in an equally modest motorcade to Windsor Castle, where she will be buried next to her husband, the late King George VI.

But even here, far away from the pomp and colour and music of the service in Westminster Abbey, there are people still watching, and in very large numbers. That is the extraordinary thing, the thing that few of us quite predicted. The Queen Mother was 101. Death is inevitable. And the British Royal Family is not revered in this country as it once was. So when the old lady passed away quietly, on Easter Saturday, we professional watchers doubted that the nation would want to mourn as they have. This was no sudden tragedy. No Princess Diana, plucked from life in her prime. No cause for grief on that scale. But we were wrong. Look for yourself - here. Take my word for it that there were tens of thousands of people who queued for hours through the day and half the night just to pass by her coffin lying in state.

It says something important about the nature of the British. The mystique of Royalty has long gone. The family's mistakes and marital breakdowns and political irrelevance is all too obvious to everyone. But we know, deep in our placid hearts, that they still represent something important. Something that could never be replicated by replacing them, say, with a democratic Presidency.

The final two lines of the Queen Mother's own little poem say it all: "You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back, or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left."