- King Charles visited Wales, the last stop on his tour of England
- King and his siblings had to stay awake on Friday night
- Ahead of the funeral procession, the police have engaged in heavy security
LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) – The miles-long line of mourners waiting to see Queen Elizabeth lie in state was temporarily closed on Friday as tens of thousands of people flocked to London for her state funeral on Monday. .
People of all ages and walks of life paid their respects to the late Queen, joining a well-organized line that stretched across the river from the south bank of the Thames to the Houses of Parliament, Westminster.
But by midnight, the queue was huge – a testament to the public’s respect and affection for the Queen, who died in Scotland on September 8 aged 96 after a 70-year reign.
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“Entrance will be suspended for at least 6 hours,” Britain’s Department of Culture said at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT), adding, “Please do not attempt to join the queue until it reopens.”
Wait times of up to 12 hours have been warned. In total, around 750,000 people are expected to walk past the Queen’s coffin.
On Friday night, King Charles and his sister Princess Anne, who traveled to Wales on Friday, and brothers Princes Andrew and Edward will hold a silent vigil around the coffin, joining ceremonial guards for a 15-minute period.
“I have no feeling in my knees or my legs,” said Hyacinth Appa, a mourner from London who was in the queue.
“But it’s fine. Most people have been nice, and we’ve had a lot of fun.”
Another mourner from London, Naomi Brown, said she waited almost 11 hours after joining the queue after work on Thursday night.
“I thought, ‘I’m not going to do it anymore. I have a lot of respect for the Queen,'” Brown, 29, told Reuters.
“She was a good symbol for our country. We feel like we’ve lost a family member.”
The coffin rests on a purple-clad catafalque in ancient Westminster Hall, topped by the Royal Standard and the Imperial State Crown.
Soldiers in ceremonial uniforms and other officials keep watch around as people walk to pay their respects after a long wait. Many were in tears, others saluted or bowed their heads.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was among those who made her way to Westminster Hall on Friday for the funeral in London, bending over as she passed the coffin.
London police said the state funeral would be the biggest security ever, with prime ministers, presidents and members of the royal family gathering to pay their respects.
Senior police officer Stuart Cundy told reporters that the force is preparing for events ranging from terrorist threats to protests and mobbing.
Foreign guests including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron are confirmed to attend.
King Charles, who ascended to the throne after his mother’s death, was meanwhile on his way to Wales, the last leg of a tour of the United Kingdom to greet the public as he recognized his position as the new monarch and head of state.
Charles and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, attended a service at Cardiff’s Llandaff Cathedral and later spoke to well-wishers outside.
Wales holds a particular significance for the new monarch, who held the title of Prince of Wales for five decades prior to his inauguration last week.
Speaking in the Welsh Parliament, Charles said: “Throughout all the years of her reign, the land of Wales could not have been closer to my mother’s heart. I know she was proud of your many great achievements. You are deeply saddened.”
“I am determined to honor that selfless example,” he said, speaking in Welsh and English.
“I accept my new duties with great gratitude for the privilege of serving as Prince of Wales. That ancient title … I now pass to my son William.”
There were some anti-monarchy protesters outside Cardiff Castle, where Charles met Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.
One man held a banner reading “Abolish the Royals” and a sign reading “End Prince of Wales”. Another man held a sign that read: “No Monarchy, No Charles, Great Reset”. Another read: “Not my king”.
Despite growing support for King Charles after Elizabeth, similar smaller protests have been held outside Parliament and in Edinburgh in recent days. read more
The new Prince of Wales William and his brother Prince Harry and the Queen’s six other grandchildren will be at the coffin vigil on Saturday evening, a royal spokesman said.
In an adjustment to protocol, royal officials said both Harry and his uncle Prince Andrew would be allowed to wear military uniforms during the vigil. Andrew will perform the duty with his siblings on Friday evening.
Both are war veterans, with Andrew serving as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot in the Falklands War and Harry serving two tours with the British Army in Afghanistan.
But so far they have appeared in processions in morning dress, losing their honorary military titles when they retreat from general state duties.
The state funeral will be one of the largest ever seen in the British capital, involving thousands of military personnel.
The Earl Marshal, Edward Fitzalan-Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who is in charge of state affairs, said he hoped the funeral would “bring people together from all over the world”.
London’s Heathrow Airport said it was canceling 15% of its flight schedule on Monday to reduce noise over the city and guarantee the sky would be quiet during the two minutes of silence at the end of the funeral. read more
Monday has been declared a national holiday. Many shops will be closed and other economic activities will stop. Thousands of people face canceled doctor’s appointments or operations under the state health service.
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Additional reporting by Alistair Smout and Farooq Sulaiman; By Angus MacSwan; Editing by Kate Holden and Alison Williams
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