London (AP) – When mourning becomes a major event: Before the historic state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, thousands of people once again lined up in what is probably the most famous queue in the world. High-ranking guests such as US President Joe Biden honored the monarch who died on September 8 on Sunday.
Mourners braved the cold night in London for hours at the weekend to see their Queen’s coffin. In Westminster Hall, the citizens had the opportunity to say goodbye before the Queen’s funeral.
For the gigantic act of state, the police, secret services and anti-terrorist units in Great Britain are coordinating one of the largest security operations that the capital has ever experienced. Over 10,000 members of the British military are said to be deployed. “It’s huge,” Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Tony Radakin told the BBC. Numerous monarchs and heads of state and government from all over the world are expected.
Reception at Buckingham Palace
On the evening before the state funeral, numerous heads of state and government as well as crowned heads from all over the world arrived at Buckingham Palace on Sunday. King Charles III and King’s wife Camilla had invited to the main residence of the British monarch in London. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was also expected on this occasion.
US President Biden and his wife Jill personally bid farewell to Elizabeth II at her coffin laid out in the British Parliament. Television images showed the Democratic politician and the US First Lady silently watching the coffin from a podium on the edge of Westminster Hall early Sunday evening. Biden praised the Queen as “decent” and “honourable”. “It’s a loss that leaves a huge hole,” he said of her death after writing a book of condolences.
Surprise visit at the “Queue”
On Saturday, King Charles III. (73) and his son Prince William (40) shown close to the people. Both paid a surprise visit to those waiting in line, the so-called “queue”. The crowd greeted her with applause, cheers and shouts of “God save the King”.
In view of the masses of mourners, the British Ministry of Culture called on Sunday to stop queuing for the Queen’s coffin. “To avoid disappointment, stop driving to join the queue,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.
Queen’s grandsons keep vigil
The Queen’s children and eight grandchildren held a 15-minute wake at the coffin on Saturday. For once, Harry was allowed to wear a military uniform for the occasion. Although the 38-year-old had served in Afghanistan, he is otherwise denied this because of his retirement from the royal family.
Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8 at the age of 96 at her Scottish country estate, Balmoral Castle. Her coffin is said to remain in state in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the British Parliament, until early Monday morning.
The monarch had certain ideas for her funeral, according to former Archbishop of York John Sentamu. “The Queen does not and did not want what you call long, boring services,” he told the BBC. You told him that personally. About 2000 people are invited to the state act.
Steinmeyer and von der Leyen also take part
Numerous representatives of the European aristocracy have also been announced, such as Federal President Steinmeier, US President Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. A government official told the BBC the effort was comparable to 100 state visits in a matter of days. Several states with which Britain has poor or no relations have not received an invitation. The most striking is the absence of Russia.
The participation of the Japanese Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako is considered a special honor. Traditionally, Japanese monarchs do not actually attend funerals, either at home or abroad.
However, it should cause astonishment that Naruhito, like most guests of honour, is supposed to travel to Westminster Abbey by bus. This should help to avoid traffic chaos. As the BBC reported, there are said to be very few exceptions, such as for US President Biden or Israeli President Izchak Herzog.
Burial at Windsor
After the service in the famous Westminster Abbey on Monday, the actual burial will not take place in London but in Windsor to the west, where the coffin will be driven. The Queen is to receive her final resting place in the evening at a private funeral in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle – alongside her husband Prince Philip, who died last year.
A national minute’s silence was scheduled for 8 p.m. (local time) on Sunday evening – a last pause by the subjects for their queen. In a pre-recorded video message, King Consort Camilla said, “She was always part of our lives.” She herself could not remember anyone else at the top, said Camilla – and appreciated the Queen’s charisma: “I will always remember her smile, her smile is unforgettable.”
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