LONDON | The endless queue to collect before the cercueil d’Elizabeth II ne cessait de s’allonger vendredi à London, after more than 24 hours d’attente, pending that Charles III received an ovation in Cardiff or on the occasion of his tournée de nouveau roi in the country.
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Proof of the immense emotion aroused by the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, the authorities had to temporarily suspend access to the long queue that formed to see the coffin of the monarch in Westminster Hall, the oldest hall of the British. Parliament.
When it reopened in the afternoon, the government warned of a wait of more than 24 hours in the queue that winds for miles through London, and warned of low overnight temperatures.
“My ankles hurt terribly, but it’s a small sacrifice,” Peter Stratford, 70, told AFP as he rested briefly after an eight-hour wait.
“I would not have wanted to miss it,” added this former firefighter who intervened during a major fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, where Elizabeth II will be buried on Monday.
Like thousands of anonymous people, former soccer star David Beckham has waited patiently for more than 12 hours since 2 a.m., dressed in dark clothing. Facing the remains of him, he bowed his head earnestly and wiped away a tear.
“It is very moving, and the silence and atmosphere in the room is very difficult to explain, but we are all here to thank Her Majesty for being so kind, caring and comforting over the years,” he said when left. , assaulted by journalists.
“She was our queen and the legacy she leaves is incredible,” he added.
Those lucky enough to arrive at the building at the right time hoped to attend the “princes’ vigil” at the end of the day, during which Elizabeth II’s four children – Carlos, Ana, Andrés and Eduardo – will come to observe. a quarter of an hour in her mother’s coffin.
For the occasion, Andrew, deprived of military titles after a sexual scandal, was authorized to wear the uniform.
Eight of the Queen’s grandchildren are expected to do the same on Saturday night.
This solemn moment will close a day rich in emotions for the new sovereign, during which he was applauded on the last leg of his tour of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales).
“Long live the king!” (“Long live the king!”): For about twenty minutes, the 73-year-old former Prince of Wales enjoyed a stroll and shook many hands.
He left with the queen consort Camilla to the anthem ‘God save the king’ sung by the public, after attending a church service and renewing his promise, in a speech partially in Welsh before Parliament, to follow the ‘example’ of his mother.
“It was very moving to see someone so special to the country,” 14-year-old Ffion Driscoll told AFP, crying with her mother.
But as the king was cheered by conquered onlookers, a handful of anti-monarchists carrying banners reading “abolish the monarchy” or “democracy now” gathered in front of the castle.
Coincidentally, 16 September is also the day Wales celebrates “rebellious prince” Owain Glyndwr, the last true Welsh Prince of Wales, who in 1400 had risen up against the King of England.
A petition protesting the passing of the title of Prince of Wales – to some a symbol of English oppression – to the new heir to the throne William instead of a Welshman has garnered nearly 30,000 signatures.
Back in London, Charles III received the country’s religious leaders at Buckingham Palace.
The public will be able to parade until early Monday morning in front of the coffin of Elizabeth II, draped with the royal standard and adorned with the imperial crown, before the state funeral at 10:00 GMT, the first since that of Winston Churchill in 1965. .
A procession will then accompany the coffin to Westminster Abbey where the funeral will take place.
Millions of people are expected to watch the event in front of their television sets on this UK public holiday.
Some 2,000 guests will attend the ceremony, including several hundred leaders from around the world, crowned heads, but also anonymous people decorated for their associative commitment.
Joe Biden, Ursula von der Leyen, the Emperor of Japan, or even Emmanuel Macron are expected, while the Pope will be represented. The leaders of Russia, Afghanistan, Burma, Syria and North Korea were not invited.
The event represents an unprecedented security challenge for the UK, which has deployed an impressive system in the capital, with numerous reinforcements from across the country.
“It will be the biggest event London Police have ever had to oversee, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said on Friday, bigger even than the 2012 Olympics.
A few hours earlier, the attack on two policemen, stabbed in central London, which the authorities do not consider a terrorist act, raised the tension a little.
Many challenges await Charles III, who is often described, at 73, as a transitional king preceding his son, the popular William, but also as a modernizer eager to shrink the wings of the monarchy.
Between Scotland’s desire for independence, community tensions in Northern Ireland, the country’s economic and social crisis, but also the republican temptations emerging in some of its other 14 kingdoms, it will have a lot to do to embody the nation’s unity. .
Thus, a few meters from the entrance to the castle, Zahra Ameri, 22, who works in a tea shop, says she is already tired of all the fuss over the arrival of the king.
“I hope Wales becomes independent,” he told AFP. “(The king) is just a person, (he) is not really important to me.”
The first steps of Carlos III were considered quite dignified, except for some public gestures of annoyance much commented on the internet, with many waiting to see how he will put on the suit of his immensely respected mother, and how he will handle family crises.
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