King Charles III and his heir Prince William offered a surprise tour with the Brits on Saturday. The latter are facing a kilometer-long queue to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II ahead of her funeral on Monday.
The hours are now counted to meditate in front of the mortal remains of the sovereign, who was very popular until her death at the age of 96 and after more than 70 years of reign, in her closed coffin crowned with the magnificent imperial crown.
Two days before the “funeral of the century,” which foreign dignitaries began to flock to, the wait in line along the Thames to Westminster Hall in London before the coffin was viewed lasted an estimated 2pm until Saturday noon.
Accompanied by Prince William, the new sovereign arrived for about twenty minutes to meet the crowd, who have been marching non-stop since Wednesday night. He exchanged a few words and shook hands, as he did several times throughout the tour, which took him through the four states of the UK, from Belfast to Cardiff, throughout the week.
The much-loved heir to the throne stayed longer, thanking the public who were worried about the condition of her feet, while shouting “I love you William!”.
A first since Churchill
The one who now holds the title of Prince of Wales will join the Queen’s seven other grandchildren, including her brother Harry, with whom relations are notoriously difficult, for a vigil at the late Queen’s coffin on Saturday night.
“The Prince’s Vigil” on Friday by Elizabeth II’s four children, Karl, Anne, Andreas and Eduard, in uniform with their backs to the coffin, moved the country and made the front page of many newspapers on Saturday. For the occasion, Andrew, who had had most of his titles stripped following sexual assault allegations, had been authorized to wear the uniform.
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London is preparing feverishly for its first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s in 1965. It was the largest event ever monitored by London police, she said. Even more impressive than the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
In a rare incident at the ongoing tributes, a man was arrested Friday night after exiting the line and approaching the coffin, authorities said. The public has until 6:30 a.m. Monday morning to pay their last respects to the sovereign, a final farewell in meditation, sometimes with tears, for a sovereign who has become a symbol of unity and stability during her reign of unprecedented length precedent in Britain history.
Prince William greets members of the public queue to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II who is buried at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 17, 2022. [Isabel Infantes – AFP]
Funeral at Westminster
A procession will then accompany the coffin to Westminster Abbey, where the burial will take place. Around 2,000 guests, including several hundred leaders from all over the world, crowned heads, but also anonymous people who have been recognized for their social commitment, will take part in the ceremony.
US President Joe Biden, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the Emperor of Japan and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected.
Following a final procession, Elizabeth II will be buried privately alongside her father King George VI and her husband Prince Philip on Monday at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in west London.
>> The 12:45 p.m. report of the long wait for the British to greet their late sovereign:
Diplomatic Ballet for Charles III
Before the grandiose funeral in Westminster Abbey begins for Charles III. an intense diplomatic sequence at Buckingham Palace on Saturday. The monarch was due to greet the Prime Ministers of the 14 Commonwealth kingdoms in the afternoon, including Justin Trudeau (Canada), Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand) and Anthony Albanese (Australia).
The leaders of the organization, to which Elizabeth II was very attached but which is being shaken by the republican temptations of some members, particularly in the Caribbean, should be able to pray before Elizabeth II’s coffin, draped with the royal standard and adorned with the imperial crown. Jacinda Ardern was there on Friday.
On Sunday afternoon, Charles III, who became king at the age of 73, receives heads of state at a reception.
Britain’s Prime Minister, Conservative Liz Truss, who has been in power for the past 10 days, is due to meet several leaders before the funeral, including Joe Biden, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin and Justin Trudeau.
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