The popular parade is coming to an end, the official delegations are flocking: there are few hours left for the public to expect to gather on Sunday at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth, before the state funeral on Monday in the presence of leaders from around the world . world.
• Read also: Camilla pays tribute to Elizabeth II, “lonely woman” in a world ruled by men
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Arriving in London on Saturday night with his wife Jill, US President Joe Biden will join foreign heads of state, including France’s Emmanuel Macron, gathered by Charles III on Sunday at the end of the day, the first major diplomatic meeting of the new 73-year-old ruler.
They will gather on Monday morning among the 2,000 guests of Westminster Abbey, where Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, for the culmination of the tributes paid in immense emotion since the death on September 8 of the monarch to the planetary popularity .
The public will still have until 06:30 am (05:30 GMT) on that day to gather in Westminster Hall, the oldest room in the British Parliament, in front of the coffin of one who has crossed the centuries with the same sense of duty.
But given the considerable waiting time to parade in front of the coffin – at the announced 1:30 p.m. on Sunday morning – the queue, which has become a phenomenon in itself, should be closed at the end of the day to newly arrived.
At 8:00 p.m. local time (7:00 p.m. GMT), Britain will freeze in a minute’s silence for a “moment of reflection” in memory of its monarch who reigned 70 years, a longevity unprecedented in British history.
As tens of thousands of people lined up outside the monarch’s remains, only one incident stood out: a man was charged with disturbing the peace after walking out of line and approaching the casket on Friday, police announced Saturday night. night.
On Saturday, King Charles and his son Prince William enjoyed a surprise walk near Lambeth Bridge.
The new sovereign, much less popular than his mother, exchanged a few words and shook hands, as he has done on several occasions during his tour this week of the four nations of the United Kingdom, from Belfast to Cardiff.
“I saw the king! Our eyes met!” exclaimed Geraldine Potts-Ahmad, through tears. “He will become the best king,” the 50-year-old predicted, still under the influence of emotion.
The now Prince of Wales, William, 40, joined his brother Harry, with whom he has a notoriously rocky relationship, at a vigil around the coffin on Saturday, along with the queen’s six other grandchildren.
The two brothers were dressed in military uniform, an outfit Harry hadn’t worn since his notorious retirement from the monarchy, as the public continued to file past on either side of the coffin.
On Friday, the queen’s four children had staged a similar vigil.
As if to gauge and maintain the bond between the British and the royal family, the children and grandchildren of the queen so beloved by the British have multiplied meetings with the public in recent days, while the period of mourning crushes all other news from the United Kingdom.
Early on Saturday afternoon, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie greeted the crowd gathered near Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Elizabeth II during her more than 70-year reign, until her death at the age of 96 at the castle. Scotch from Balmoral.
In a recorded video message that will be broadcast on Sunday by the BBC, the queen consort Camila paid tribute to the sovereign, “who has always been part of our lives”, and insisted on the difficulties that Elizabeth II, “lonely woman”, is going through. in a world of predominantly male heads of state and government.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese praised on Sky News the “steady and reassuring presence” of the Queen, who has met 16 prime ministers in the country.
Like his counterparts Justin Trudeau (Canada) and Jacinda Ardern, the Australian leader gathered in front of the coffin in Westminster Hall.
The organization of the state funeral, the first since that of Winston Churchill in 1965, represents an unprecedented challenge for the London police.
“The biggest operation” ever carried out by the London police, stressed the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, on the occasion of the visit of Charles and William to a command center on Saturday.
Backstage, rehearsals are in full swing, and on the outskirts of Westminster, the hottest are already camping out to secure their front row seats.
Coming from the north of England, Magdalena Staples, who will have spent three nights under the tent with her family, explains to AFP that she wants her children to “live the same experience” as she did, when she attended Lady Di’s funeral 25 years ago. .
After a final procession, Elizabeth II will be buried privately on Monday in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, west London, alongside her father, King George VI, and her husband, Prince Philip.
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