Tears and contemplation in Westminster: the public parades before the coffin of Elizabeth II

Tears and contemplation in Westminster: the public parades before the coffin of Elizabeth II

A long wait, for a kiss, a tear, a bow: the public began to parade this Wednesday in front of the coffin of Elizabeth II in London, for several days of final tributes where hundreds of thousands of people are expected before his funeral on Monday .

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After an emotional procession from Buckingham Palace, the house where he spent part of his childhood and which was his official residence during his 70-year reign, the coffin of the Queen, who died last Thursday at the age of 96, arrived at Westminster Hall in the early hours of the morning. afternoon.

*** Our special correspondents Richard Latendresse and Véronique Lauzon are in London to cover the events surrounding the Queen’s death live.

Arranged on an imposing catafalque, it will remain there in the oldest room in the British Parliament, which will remain open continuously until 6:30 a.m. this Monday, the day of the funeral at Westminster Abbey.


Filing on either side of the coffin, the public sends kisses or bows to the queen, their eyes often red with tears.

Sue Harvey, a 50-year-old accountant, describes an “incredibly moving” experience, “a lot of people crying”, but in “complete silence”. “I wanted to be sure to see her, no matter the length of the queue,” she continues, before turning to lay flowers near Buckingham Palace: “Apparently the smell is incredible.”

Nina Kaistoffioson, a 40-year-old artist who came to “thank” the Queen for “her service to the nation”, felt “at peace”, describing “emotion” and “tears”. She waited two days in the rain, but, like others who were patient with her, she had planned to change her clothes before returning to the cathedral.

Moist-eyed, 36-year-old Vickie Wicks would not have hesitated to wait “30 hours if necessary” for a brief moment near the coffin.


After leaving Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn carriage, the sovereign’s coffin was followed on foot to Westminster, at a speed of 75 steps per minute, by her four children, King Charles, Princess Anne and his brothers Andrés and Eduardo.

Next, side by side, were Princes William and Harry, Charles’ two sons with rocky relationships, who appeared together for the second time since Elizabeth II’s death nearly a week ago in Scotland.


Topped by the imperial crown resting on a purple velvet cushion and a crown of white flowers, roses and dahlias, accompanied by foliage from Balmoral and Windsor castles, the coffin moved slowly to the sound of the funeral marches of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Chopin .

Hundreds of thousands of Britons are expected to gather in Westminster to get closer to their beloved monarch, hailed for her utter devotion to the Crown during her reign.

But you will have to be patient, with a long queue -five kilometers on Wednesday at the beginning of the afternoon- that could reach fifteen kilometers.

There were thousands on Wednesday to wait on the bench in front of parliament. The first to arrive spent the night there, those who arrive on Wednesday at the end of the day are ready to do the same.

“I kind of feel like we owe the Queen something, because she’s been there our whole life,” says Andrew Clyde, 53, who came especially with two friends from Northern Ireland. . A region where the queen has helped “unite the two communities” Protestant and Catholic, shaken by three decades of violence, explains this pensioner equipped with a large backpack with food, water and iced tea.

A rock of stability in crisis and change, the Queen has been a reassuring figure for millions of Britons during her reign.

Much weaker, Carlos III’s popularity rating has skyrocketed since his accession to the throne. According to a YouGov poll on Tuesday, three in five people believe he will make a good king, up from just over 30% a few months ago.

But his annoyance was noted when signing official papers in Belfast, the king, on a very tight schedule since his mother’s death, bristled at a dripping pen.

Tensions in Northern Ireland, separatist desires in Scotland, rampant inflation: Charles III, the oldest British sovereign to accede to the throne, takes office at a critical moment.


He spoke by phone this Wednesday with US President Joe Biden, announced at the funeral, who conveyed his condolences and expressed his “desire to continue a close relationship.”

Mr. Biden is one of 500 foreign dignitaries expected for Elizabeth II’s funeral, the first national funeral since 1965: those of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965). Some countries, including Russia, Afghanistan, Syria and Burma, were not invited.

Full hotels, disrupted transport, crowded pubs: the British capital is feverishly preparing for this event, a huge security challenge for the police and a change of era in the United Kingdom and the other 14 states, of which Elizabeth II was head of Condition .

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