World leaders began gathering in London from Saturday for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, as Princes William and Harry were prepared to lead prayers for her grandchildren by her coffin. grandma.
The queen’s death on September 8 at the age of 96, after a record 70 years on the throne, has sparked a surge of emotion.
Members of the public defied the wait that there was an estimated 24-hour time and frigid nighttime temperatures to view her coffin.
Lines have stretched for miles along the Thames since Wednesday when her coffin was taken to the UK parliament complex to lie down.
Police are ramping up Britain’s biggest-ever security for Monday’s funeral, as hundreds of dignitaries including US President Joe Biden prepare to arrive.
The queen’s successor, King Charles III, will meet the prime ministers of the Commonwealth of Nations on Saturday – the 14 former colonies he currently reigns alongside Britain.
From Australia, New Zealand to Canada, they have officially declared him as their new sovereign.
But republican movements are consolidating and efforts to keep them all in the royal life will likely be a feature of his reign.
Charles on Friday ended his maiden tour as monarch to four countries of the UK with a visit to Wales, part of an operation called “Spring Tide” to kick off in his new role.
Large crowds in Cardiff chanted “God save the king” as he shook hands with the wise after a multi-faith service at Llandaff Cathedral, and at Cardiff Castle.
Charles met the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, a republican, and there were isolated boos in the streets after the new monarch quickly declared his son William Prince new death of Wales.
But Drakeford said that questions about the future of the monarchy were “a footnote to the dominant emotions of the day”.
– ‘Tide of emotions’ –
Back in London, Charles held a 15-minute vigil with his siblings – Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – around their mother’s coffin on Friday night.
They stood, eyes lowered and silent, while members of the public spoke of the past.
Andrew – stripped of his royal title this year because of a sexual assault scandal – was allowed to wear his uniform only once during his 11-day mourning period.
The Duke of York, as he is also known, flew a Royal Navy helicopter during the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina.
The ceremony will be repeated on Saturday night by eight of the queen’s grandchildren, including new heir to the throne Prince William and estranged brother Harry.
Harry – who has served two tours with British troops in Afghanistan – is also said to have been given special permission to wear a military uniform despite no longer being a working royal.
The move appears to be the latest olive branch the royal family has offered Harry after he and his wife Meghan made accusations of racism in interviews from their new home in the US.
The private sadness of the queen’s family has been released before the attention of the international community.
But the queen’s youngest son Edward said: “We have been overwhelmed by the wave of emotions that have engulfed us and the sheer number of people who have tried to express their own love, admiration and respect. surname.”
– Beckham joins the queue –
The most prominent expression of public reverence for the queen is the hundreds of thousands of people lining up to bid her farewell.
Officials warned Friday that expected queue times have reached more than 24 hours and halted admission briefly once lines have reached capacity.
Those paying their respects included former England captain turned fashion icon David Beckham, who spent 12 hours making his way to Westminster Hall.
“It was very emotional, and the silence and the feeling in the room was difficult to explain,” he told reporters after stepping through the coffin.
“We’re all there to say thank you to His Majesty for being so kind, so caring, so reassuring all these years.”
June Nayler, 76, a retired former local government employee from Milton Keynes in central England is undaunted by the long wait she faces when she joins the end of the line in Southwark Park.
“I’m here right now and will get things done – that’s my duty,” she told AFP.
“I was just subdued by the crowd and the number of people that showed up.”
The public has until Monday morning to view the coffin before the queen is honored in Britain’s first state funeral in nearly six decades.
The grand ceremony at Westminster Abbey – expected to be watched by millions across the globe – will see 142 sailors hauling her lead coffin-carrying chariot.
It will be attended by more than 2,000 guests, but leaders from countries with confrontational relations with Britain such as Russia, Belarus and Afghanistan have not been invited.
A private burial will be held at Windsor Castle following the pledge.
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