Britain and the world to bury Queen Elizabeth II
LONDON (AP) — Britain and the world bury Queen Elizabeth II on Monday in a state funeral that will draw presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers — and up to a million people to the streets from London to say a final goodbye to a monarch whose 70-year reign has defined an age.
A day packed with funeral events in London and Windsor began early when the doors of 900-year-old Westminster Hall were closed to mourners after hundreds of thousands of people filed in front of his coffin from the September 14. Many of them had spent cold nights outside. to pay homage around the Queen’s flag-draped coffin in a moving outpouring of national grief and respect. Later, a bell at Westminster Abbey began to ring, and it will ring once a minute for 96 minutes to honor each year of Elizabeth’s life.
The hall’s closure marked the end of more than four days of coffin-in-state and the start of the UK’s first state funeral since those held in 1965 for Winston Churchill, the first of 15 Prime Ministers under the reign of ‘Elizabeth. Two days before her death on September 8 at her summer retreat at Balmoral, the Queen appointed her last Prime Minister, Liz Truss.
Among the last mourners to join the line to view the coffin was Tracy Dobson from Hertfordshire, just north of London.
“I felt like I had to come and pay my last respects to our majestic queen, she has done so much for us and just a really small thank you from the people,” she said.
Monday has been declared a public holiday in honor of Elizabeth, who died on September 8 at age 96. His funeral will be broadcast live to more than 200 countries and territories around the world and screened in front of crowds in parks and public spaces across the UK.
Police officers from across the country will be on duty in the biggest one-day policing operation in London’s history.
The day before the funeral, King Charles III sent a message of thanks to people across the UK and around the world, saying he and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, had been ‘moved beyond measure’ by the large number of people who came to pay their respects to the Queen.
“As we all prepare to say our final goodbyes, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such support and comfort to me and my family during this time of grief. “, did he declare.
For the funeral, Elizabeth’s coffin will be taken from Westminster Hall, across the road from Westminster Abbey, on a royal gun carriage hauled by 142 Royal Navy sailors. The same trolley was used to transport the coffins of the late Kings Edward VII, George V and George VI, and Churchill.
The service, in the gothic medieval abbey where Elizabeth was married in 1947 and crowned in 1953, will be attended by 2,000 people ranging from world leaders to healthcare workers and volunteers.
Mourners began arriving for seating shortly after 8 a.m. (0700 GMT; 0300 EDT). Dignitaries would arrive later, with many heads of state congregating at a nearby hospital to be taken by bus to the abbey. Hours before the service began, authorities in London said all viewing areas along the route of the funeral procession were full.
The funeral will end with two minutes of silence followed by the national anthem and a lament by the piper, before the Queen’s coffin is carried away in a procession surrounded by uniformed armed forces units, with the Queen’s children walking behind, up Wellington Arch near Hyde Park.
There he will be placed in a hearse to be taken to Windsor for another procession along the Long Walk, a three-mile (five-kilometre) avenue leading to the town’s castle, before a burial service in the Chapel of St. -George. She will then be buried with her late husband, Prince Philip, in a private family service.
Central London was already packed before dawn on Monday with people seeking a prime viewing spot, and authorities warned it would be extremely busy.
US President Biden was among the leaders to pay their respects at the Queen’s coffin on Sunday as thousands of police, hundreds of British troops and an army of civil servants made final preparations for the funeral – a spectacular display of national mourning that will be also the largest gathering of world leaders in years.
Biden called Queen Elizabeth II “decent” and “honourable” and “all about service” as he signed the condolence book, saying his heart goes out to the royal family.
People across Britain paused for a minute of silence at 8pm on Sunday in memory of the only monarch most have ever known. At Westminster Hall, the steady stream of mourners paused for 60 seconds as people watched the minute of reflection in deep silence.
In Windsor, the rain began to fall as the crowd fell silent for the moment of reflection. Some are setting up small camps and chairs outside Windsor Castle, spending the night there to reserve the best spots to view the Queen’s coffin when she arrives.
“It will be worth it at 4pm this afternoon,” said Sally McCloud, a business manager from nearby Maidenhead. “We are all here for a reason, rain or shine. So I’m pretty happy to be here and got some sleep. I had a good cup of coffee this morning and we’ll be waiting, waiting in the rain.
Fred Sweeney, 52, who outfitted his place with two Union flags on tall flagpoles, said: “It’s just a night and a day in our lives. Elizabeth gave us – you know – 70 years.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose invitation drew criticism from rights groups over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, will not show up at Monday’s funeral. Saudi Arabia is expected to be represented by another royal, Prince Turki bin Mohammed.
Danica Kirka, Samya Kullab and David Keyton contributed to this report.
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