Biden pays respects to queen as world leaders arrive in London for funeral
Thousands upon thousands of police officers, hundreds of troops, and an army officials made final preparations Sunday to host the state burial of Queen Elizabeth II – a stunning display of national mourning which will also be the largest gathering of world leaders in years.
President Biden and other dignitaries arrived in London for the funeral, to which around 500 royals, heads of state and heads of government from around the globe have been invited.
Mr. Biden, first lady Dr. Jill Biden, paid their respects to the Queen at Westminster Hall on Sunday. Jane Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, joined them. The first lady and the president then signed the official condolence books for the queen at Lancaster House.
“She was as good in person and as beautiful in her image, Mr. Biden stated. Our hearts go out for the royal family, King Charles, and all their loved ones. It’s a huge loss and you sometimes think you can’t overcome it. But, as I’ve said to the king, she’s going with him every minute of every moment. That’s a comforting thought. “
Thousands of people continued to line up around the clock to file past the queen’s coffin as it lies in state at Parliament’s Westminster Hall, braving chilly overnight temperatures and waits of up to 17 hours. The eight grandchildren of the queen, led by Prince William, walked around the coffin with their heads bowed during a silent prayer on Saturday evening.
The long queue at Westminster Hall will be closed to new entrants late Sunday. This will allow everyone to file past the coffin by Monday morning. When the coffin will be carried on a gun carriage to Westminster Abbey, it will be laid to rest.
People across the U.K. are due to pause Sunday evening for a nationwide minute of silence to remember the queen, who died Sept. 8 at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne. Monday has been declared a national holiday. The funeral will be broadcast live to a large television audience and screened in public spaces and parks across the country.
Thousands of police officers from around the country will be on duty as part of the biggest one-day policing operation in London’s history.
Crowds gathered Sunday near Windsor Castle. The queen will be laid to repose at a private family service on Monday evening.
“I think it’s been amazing,” said Anna Pettigrew, a 55-year-old teacher. It’s been very emotional and it’s been a fitting tribute to a great queen. “
Camilla, the new queen consort, paid tribute to the queen in a video message, saying the monarch “carved her own role” as a “solitary woman” on a world stage dominated by men.
” I will always remember her smile. Camilla, who is married with King Charles III, said that her smile is unforgettable. A steady stream of people continued to pour into Westminster Hall, where the queen’s coffin lies in state, covered in the Royal Standard, and capped off with a diamond-studded Crown. Since Wednesday’s first admission, the number of mourners has steadily increased. A queue stretched for at least five blocks along the River Thames to Southwark Park in the city’s southeast.
Honoring their patience, Charles and William made an unannounced visit Saturday to greet people in the line, shaking hands and thanking mourners in the queue near Lambeth Bridge.
Later all the queen’s grandchildren stood beside her coffin. Prince Harry and William, Charles’ sons, were joined later by Zara Tindall’s and Peter Philips’ children; Princess Anne’s daughters Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, and Prince Andrew’s daughters Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie; as well as the two children of Prince Edward — Lady Louise Windsor, and James, Viscount Severn.
William sat with his head at the coffin’s head and Harry at his feet. Both princes were uniformed military veterans. Mourners filed past in silence.
“You could see that they were thinking hard about their grandmother, the queen,” said Ian Mockett, a civil engineer from Oxford in southern England. “Seeing them all together as a group of grandchildren was a nice thing, given the events that have occurred over the past few years. “
Harry was a British army officer who served in Afghanistan. He wore civilian clothes earlier in week as the queen’s coffin left Buckingham Palace. He is no longer a member of the royal family. He and his wife Meghan quit royal duties and moved to the United States in 2020. However, the king requested that Harry and William wear their military uniforms to the Westminster Hall Vigil.
Princes Beatrice, Eugenie and Mary issued a statement before the vigil praising their “beloved grandmother”. “
” We, like many, believed you’d be around forever. We all miss you so much. You were our matriarch, guide, and our loving hand that guided us through this world. We will always remember the lessons and memories you taught us, and we will treasure them forever,” the sisters wrote.
The four royal children, Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew, held a similar vigil at the coffin on Friday.
A man lunged at a coffin on Friday, breaking the silence in the hall. London police said Sunday that a 28-year-old London man, Muhammad Khan, has been charged with behavior intended to “cause alarm, harassment or distress.” He will appear in court Monday.
The lying-in-state continues until early Monday morning, when the queen’s coffin will be moved to nearby Westminster Abbey for the funeral, the finale of 10 days of national mourning for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. The coffin of the late queen will be taken through London’s historic center on a gun carriage after the service at the abbey. The coffin will then be transported in a hearse to Windsor where it will be buried alongside Prince Philip, her husband who died last year.
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