Crowds flock to see Elizabeth II's coffin in London

Crowds flock to see Elizabeth II’s coffin in London

(London) Thousands of mourners lined up all night to file past Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin in Westminster’s Parliament House on Thursday, as King Charles III spends a private day reflecting on his first week on the throne.

Posted at 6:10 am
Updated at 7:06 am

Jill Lawless, Mike Corder and Danica Kirka
Associated Press

The queue to see the coffin stretched for 2.6 miles on Thursday morning, along the south bank of the Thames and then over a bridge to Parliament. Thousands of people in line didn’t care about the hours of waiting.

“I’m glad there’s a queue because it gave us time to see what was in store for us, it prepared us and took in the whole atmosphere,” said health professional Nimisha Maroo. . I wouldn’t have liked it if I had to rush. »

After a day of grand ceremony and excitement as the Queen was carried in a somber procession from Buckingham Palace, the King spent the day in “private reflection” at his residence in Highgrove, west of England. Charles has had calls with US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron and is addressing a host of world leaders, many of whom will be coming to London on Monday for the Queen’s funeral.

Prince William, heir to the throne, and his wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales, will visit the royal family’s estate in Sandringham, eastern England, to see some of the tributes left by well-wishers.

Separately, more details have been revealed about the state funeral that will take place at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

Some 2,000 guests are expected at the ceremony, including several international dignitaries. At the end of the funeral, two minutes of silence will be observed throughout the country.

The Queen’s coffin will then be transported to the British capital in a horse-drawn carriage. He will be flown back to Windsor, where the queen will be buried next to her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.

Departure from Buckingham Palace

The Queen left Buckingham Palace for the last time on Wednesday, carried in a horse-drawn carriage and greeted with cannon fire and the sound of Big Ben, in a solemn procession through the flag-draped, crowded streets of London to Westminster Hall. .

Charles, his brothers and children walked behind the coffin, which was crowned with a crown of white roses and its crown rested on a purple velvet pillow.

The caravan marked Elizabeth’s seven decades as head of state while the process of national mourning passed through the grand boulevards and historical monuments of the British capital.

The 900-year-old Westminster Hall is now at the center of events, as the Queen is on display there until Monday. Thousands of people have already paid their respects, filing past the coffin draped in the royal banner and crowned with a diamond-encrusted crown.

People, old and young, dressed in dark suits or jeans and sneakers, paraded in a steady stream through the historic hall, where Guy Fawkes and Charles I were tried, where kings and queens held magnificent banquets, medieval buildings and where the remains of the previous monarchs are found. they were exhibited.

After passing the coffin, most of the mourners paused to look back before exiting through the great oak doors of the hall. Some have dried their tears; others bowed or bowed. One knelt down and blew a goodbye kiss.

Keith Smart, an engineer and British Army veteran, wiped away tears as he left the room. He had waited more than 10 hours for the opportunity to say goodbye.

“Everyone in the crowd behaved impeccably. There was no malice, they were all friends. It was fantastic, he reported. And then walking into this room and seeing this, I collapsed inside. I did not bow, I knelt on the ground, on my knees, I bowed my head to the queen. »

The silence of the night was broken when one of the guards guarding the coffin collapsed and fell from its raised platform. The man, his chest adorned with medals, could be seen on live television getting to his feet before falling to the ground. Two policemen rushed to his aid.

Crowds lined the route of the Queen’s coffin each time it was transferred on its long journey from Scotland, where the sovereign died on September 8, aged 96, to London.

Thousands of people braved a typical London drizzle on Tuesday night as the hearse, with interior lights illuminating the coffin, drove slowly from an airbase to Buckingham Palace.

Earlier in Edinburgh, around 33,000 people silently marched past his coffin in 24 hours at St. Giles’ Cathedral.

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