The body of Elizabeth II in London for the last farewell
Hundreds of thousands of Britons are expected in London from Wednesday for a final welcome to Elizabeth II, their beloved monarch back in London nearly a week after her death in Scotland.
The coffin of the Queen, who died on Thursday at the age of 96, was found in the British capital on Tuesday evening. After a night at Buckingham Palace, the body is taken to Westminster Hall, the oldest chamber in Britain’s Parliament, following a solemn procession in central London.
For nearly five days, from Wednesday 5:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. GMT) to Monday 6:30 a.m., the day of the national funeral, Britons can come and pay as close as possible their final tribute to the Sovereign, celebrated unanimously for their total dedication for more than 70 years of reign.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected at Westminster Hall, which will be open 24/7 for the occasion, but it will take patience, with long queues that can stretch for miles.
Elizabeth II’s coffin was unearthed at Saint Gilles Cathedral in Edinburgh from Monday evening to Tuesday. At times moved to tears, around 33,000 people waited for hours to pray just before the coffin, which was covered with the king’s flag and crown.
Rock of stability in the sometimes political, social or public health storm of COVID-19, the Queen has been a reassuring image for millions of Britons during her decades on the throne.
On Tuesday evening, Princess Anne, Elizabeth II’s only daughter, accompanied her coffin on the plane taking it from Edinburgh to London. The new King Charles III, Elizabeth’s eldest son, was in attendance to greet the remains upon his arrival at Buckingham Palace after spending the day in Northern Ireland, a delicate step in his accession to the throne.
– Karl convinced –
Elizabeth II had played an important role in reconciling the province with a bloody past. But nearly a quarter-century after the return of a fragile peace between Republicans, mostly Catholics, and Unionists, mostly Protestants, tensions have been reignited by Brexit.
“With a shining example before me and with the help of God, I take up my new duties determined to seek the well-being of all people in Northern Ireland,” the monarch told local parliament, which had been at pause for months.
Charles III travels to London, Edinburgh and Belfast. on Friday to Cardiff in Wales, the final leg of his tour of Britain’s four nations. The king’s rating has increased dramatically since ascending the throne, according to a YouGov poll released on Tuesday. Three in five people believe he will make a good king, up from just over 30% a few months ago.
Tensions in Northern Ireland, separatist aspirations in Scotland, rampant inflation: Charles III, at 73 years older than any British sovereign at the time of his accession, takes office at a critical moment.
The country, stricken by a serious social and political crisis, has had a new prime minister for a few days, Liz Truss, who had received Queen Elizabeth II two days earlier at her Scottish residence in Balmoral to ask her to form a government that’s off .
– Logistical challenge –
But for now it’s time to think, the country is preparing for the immense logistical and security challenge of the coming days.
After prayers at the Palace in the presence of the King, Queen and Royal Family, the coffin will leave Buckingham Palace at 13:22 GMT on Wednesday for a procession on a carriage through central London to the Palace of Westminster.
The King and members of the Royal Family will join in as Big Ben rings and cannons are fired from Hyde Park.
Full hotels, disrupted traffic, overcrowded pubs… The British capital prepared feverishly on Tuesday for the home straight before the centenary funeral.
While the queue is likely to be non-stop to see the coffin, the Government has already warned of “draconian restrictions” worthy of airports to handle the historic crowds at the Palace of Westminster.
When authorities refuse to give a number, the press speaks of about 750,000 people ready to endure a wait that could be counted in dozens of hours. In 2002, around 200,000 gathered in front of Queen Mother Elizabeth’s coffin, which was unveiled to the public three days before her funeral.
The crowds are likely to be even bigger ahead of the “funeral of the century”, the first national funeral since 1965 – that of Winston Churchill – which will take place on Monday 19 September in the presence of around 500 foreign dignitaries and many royal royalty.
However, Russia, Belarus, Burma and North Korea were not invited.
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