Thousands of policemen, hundreds of soldiers and an army of officials made their final preparations on Sunday– a spectacular show of national mourning, which will also be the largest gathering of world leaders in years.
President Biden and other dignitaries began arriving in London for the funeral, to which approximately 500 royalty, heads of state and government from all over the world were invited.
Thousands of people lined up around the clock to walk past the Queen’s Coffin, which lies in the state of the Westminster Hall Parliament Building, facing the cold nights and waiting up to 17 hours. The queen’s eight grandsons, led by the heir to the throne, Prince William, encircled the coffin and stood with bowed heads during a silent vigil on Saturday night.
Mr. Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden paid their respects at Westminster Hall on Sunday and were joined by Jane Hartley, the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The president would then sign an official condolence book to the queen at Lancaster House.
The multi-kilometer line at Westminster Hall is expected to close to new arrivals later Sunday so that everyone in the line can pass the coffin before Monday morning, when he will be transported by tow truck to Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s funeral.
People across the UK are to break Sunday night for a nationwide minute of silence to commemorate the Queen who died on September 8 at the age of 96 after 70 years of sitting on the throne. Monday has been declared a public holiday and the funeral will be broadcast to huge TV audiences and shown to crowds in parks and public places across the country.
Thousands of policemen from all over the country will be on duty in London’s largest one-day police operation.
Crowds also gathered on Sunday near Windsor Castle, where the Queen will be buried in a private family ceremony on Monday evening.
“I think it was amazing,” said Anna Pettigrew, a 55-year-old teacher. “It was very emotional and I think it was a very appropriate tribute to the great queen.”
Camilla, the queen’s new consort, paid tribute to the Queen in a video message, saying the monarch had “carved out her own role” as a “lonely woman” in the male-dominated world scene.
“I will always remember her smile. That smile is unforgettable, ”said Camilla, wife of King Charles III.
The wave of people continued to pour into Westminster Hall, where the Queen’s coffin is in good condition, wrapped in the Royal Standard and topped with a diamond-studded crown. The number of mourners has grown steadily since the public first let in on Wednesday, with the funicular that stretches at least five miles along the River Thames and into Southwark Park to the southeast of the city.
Honoring their patience, Charles and William made an unannounced visit on Saturday to greet the people in the line, shake hands and thank the mourners in the line near Lambeth Bridge.
Later, all the queen’s grandchildren stood by her coffin. The sons of Charles, William and Prince Harry, were joined by the children of Princess Anne, Zara Tindall and Peter Philips; the daughters of Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenia; and Prince Edward’s two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
William stood with his head bowed at the top of the coffin and Harry at his feet. Both princes, who were military veterans, wore uniforms. The mourners still passed in silence.
“It was evident that they had a hard time thinking about their grandmother, the queen,” said Ian Mockett, a civil engineer from Oxford, southern England. “It was good to see them all together as a group of grandchildren, given the things that had happened over the past few years.”
Harry, who served in Afghanistan as an officer in the British Army, wore civilian clothes early in the week when the queen’s coffin left Buckingham Palace as he is no longer a working member of the Royal Family. He and his wife Meghan have relinquished their royal duties and moved to the United States in 2020. The king, however, demanded that both William and Harry wear military uniforms during the Westminster Hall vigil.
Before the vigil, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie issued a statement praising their “beloved grandmother.”
“We, like many, thought you would be here forever. And we all miss you terribly. You were our matriarch, our guide, our loving hand on our backs leading us through this world. You taught us and we will love these lessons and memories. forever, “wrote the sisters.
The queen’s four children – Charles, Princess Anna, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – had a similar vigil at the coffin on Friday.
The silence in the hall was briefly broken on Friday as the man lunged at the coffin. London police said on Sunday that a 28-year-old man from London, Muhammad Khan, was charged with behavior intended to “cause alarm, harass or suffering”. He will appear in court on Monday.
Lying in state continues until early Monday morning, when the Queen’s coffin is moved to nearby Westminster Abbey for a funeral that marks the culmination of a 10-day national mourning for Britain’s longest-reigning monarchy.
After Monday’s abbey service, the coffin of the late Queen will be transported by a tow truck through the historic heart of London. He will then be transported by hearse to Windsor, where the Queen will be buried with her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.
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