London faces the event of the century. World leaders arrive in the British capital ahead of a state ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II. There will be some peace today.
LONDON – King Charles III ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on Monday. Last night at Buckingham Palace he welcomed state guests from all over the world. US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are also expected. Several heads of state and government headed into the British capital over the weekend. Charles welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other Commonwealth officials on Saturday.
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, who died on September 8, was kept in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the British Parliament, and was open to the public until the early hours of Monday. Over the past few days, tens of thousands have queued for hours, often overnight, in kilometer-long queues to catch a last glimpse of their queen and say goodbye. On Saturday, King Charles and Prince William paid a surprise visit to those in waiting. The government is expected to shut down those waiting to pass the coffin later Sunday.
A national minute of peace was planned
A national minute’s silence is scheduled for tonight at 8:00pm local time. The Brits are home alone, but are invited to one of the one-minute pause events. Before that, the BBC plans to broadcast a pre-recorded video message from the monarch’s wife, Camilla, quoted earlier by Britain’s PA news agency.
“She was always a part of our lives,” said Charles’ wife. She is now 75 and can’t remember anyone in the leadership role, Camilla said, acknowledging the Queen’s role as a female pioneer. “She had these beautiful blue eyes and her whole face lit up when she smiled,” Camilla said of the queen. “I will always remember her laugh. Her smile is unforgettable.”
Eight grandchildren were at the wake
Eight of the Queen’s grandchildren – including Princes William and Harry – held a 15-minute vigil on Saturday night. Once, Harry was allowed to wear a military uniform. Although the 38-year-old served in Afghanistan, he has now denied this due to his retirement from the royal family. However, after criticism that Andrew was given an exemption for the Queen’s children, the rules were changed for Harry as well.
Meanwhile, police, intelligence and counter-terrorism units are busy conducting one of the biggest security operations the British capital has ever seen. Preparations and checks have been underway for days to ensure the safety of the hundreds of thousands of people who will be in London on Monday. Hundreds of monarchs, heads of state and heads of government from around the world are also expected.
Burial at Windsor
After a service at Westminster Abbey on Monday morning, the coffin will be taken in procession to Wellington Arch. The route takes in The Mall and Buckingham Palace. The actual burial will not take place in London, but in Windsor in the west, where the coffin will be carried in a hearse. The Queen is to be laid to rest in a private funeral at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Monday evening – alongside her husband Prince Philip, who died last year.
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