Thousands of policemen, hundreds of troops and an army of officials made final preparations on Sunday– A great display of national mourning that will also be the largest gathering of world leaders for years.
President Biden and other dignitaries began arriving in London for the funeral, which about 500 members of the royal family, heads of state and heads of government from around the world were invited to attend.
Thousands of people continued to queue around the clock to approach the Queen’s coffin as it is located in the state in Parliament’s Westminster Hall, braving cold temperatures all night long and waiting for up to 17 hours. The Queen’s eight grandchildren, led by heir to the throne Prince William, rotated the coffin and stood with their heads bowed during a silent vigil on Saturday evening.
Mr. Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden paid their respects in Westminster Hall on Sunday and were joined by Jane Hartley, the US ambassador to the UK. The president was then appointed to sign the Queen’s official condolence book at Lancaster House.
The miles-long queue at Westminster Hall is expected to close to new arrivals later on Sunday so everyone in line can get past the coffin before Monday morning, when it will be flown on a gun carriage to Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s funeral.
People across the UK are set to pause on Sunday evening for a nationwide minute of silence to remember the Queen, who died on September 8 at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne. Monday has been declared a public holiday, and the funeral will be broadcast to a huge television audience and shown to crowds in parks and public spaces across the country.
Thousands of police officers from across the country will be on duty as part of the largest one-day police operation in London’s history.
Crowds also gathered Sunday near Windsor Castle, where the Queen will be laid to rest at a private family party on Monday evening.
“I think it was great,” said Anna Pettigrew, a 55-year-old teacher. “It was very emotional, and I think it was a very fitting tribute to a wonderful Queen.”
Camilla, the queen’s new wife, paid tribute to the queen in a video message, saying the queen “carved her role” as a “recluse woman” on the male-dominated world stage.
Camilla, who is married to King Charles III, said: “I will always remember her smile. That smile is unforgettable.”
A wave of people continued to stream into Westminster Hall, where the Queen’s casket lay in good condition, draped in royal standard and covered with a diamond-encrusted crown. The number of mourners has grown steadily since the public was first admitted on Wednesday, with a waiting list stretching for at least five miles along the Thames and to Southwark Park in the city’s southeast.
In honor of their patience, Charles and William made an unannounced visit on Saturday to greet people in line, shake hands and thank mourners in a queue near Lambeth Bridge.
Subsequently, all the Queen’s grandchildren stood by her coffin. William and Prince Harry, Charles’s sons, were joined by Princess Anne’s children, visiting Tindall and Peter Phillips. Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie; and two children of Prince Edward – Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
William stood with his head bowed on top of the coffin and Harry at his feet. Both princes, who are military veterans, were in uniform. Mourners continued past in silence.
“You can see that they were thinking very seriously of their Queen’s grandmother,” said Ian Mockett, a civil engineer from Oxford in southern England. “It was nice to see them all together as a group of grandchildren given the things that have happened over the past few years.”
Harry, who served in Afghanistan as a British Army officer, wore civilian clothes earlier in the week when the Queen’s coffin left Buckingham Palace because he is no longer a working member of the royal family. He and his wife Megan resigned from their royal duties and moved to the United States in 2020. However, the King requested that both William and Harry wear their military uniforms at the vigil at Westminster Hall.
Prior to the vigil, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie issued a statement praising their “beloved grandmother.”
We, like many, believed you would be here forever. And we all miss you dearly. You were our mothers, our guide, and our loving hand guiding us through this world. You taught us so much and we will cherish. “Those lessons and memories are forever,” the sisters wrote.
The Queen’s four sons – Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – staged a similar vigil around the coffin on Friday.
The silence in the hall was briefly broken on Friday when a man rushed toward the coffin. London police said on Sunday that the 28-year-old London man, Mohammed Khan, had been charged with conduct designed to “cause panic, harassment or anxiety”. He will appear in court on Monday.
The lie continues in the state until early Monday morning, when the Queen’s coffin will be taken to nearby Westminster Abbey for the funeral, the conclusion of 10 days of national mourning for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
After Monday prayers at the Abbey, the late Queen’s coffin will be carried through the historic heart of London on a gun carriage. She will then be taken to Windsor, where the Queen will be buried alongside her late husband Prince Philip, who died last year.