- The queue to see the Queen’s coffin grow after a break
- King Charles visits Wales, final leg of UK tour
- The king and his brothers and sisters keep watch
- I will be sovereign of all communities, said Charles
- Police mount a massive security operation ahead of the funeral
LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) – King Charles and his siblings stood vigil at the coffin of their late mother Queen Elizabeth on Friday as tens of thousands of mourners lined up to pay their last respects while in custody were told they had to wait up to 24 hours.
Charles, Princess Anne, Princes Andrew and Edward, dressed in military uniform, stood in silence with their heads bowed during the 15-minute vigil at historic Westminster Hall where the coffin of the late monarch has lain since Wednesday.
Most of the other members of the British Royal Family, including some of the Queen’s great-grandchildren, watched from a gallery.
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Tens of thousands of people of all ages and walks of life have already filed past the coffin in a steady and solemn stream to pay their respects to the Queen, who died in Scotland on September 8 at the age of 96 after a 70-year of reign.
Despite warning of the time it would take to reach the building, mourners continued to join a well-organized line that stretches along the south bank of the Thames and then down the river to Westminster Hall in the Parliament, knowing that their wait would last all night when the temperatures were expected to be cold.
“We were overwhelmed by the wave of emotions that washed over us and the large number of people who went out of their way to express their love, admiration and respect to such a special and unique person,” the prince said. Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, said in a statement.
Rosie Beddows, 57, from Sussex, had been queuing with her husband and son and happened to walk past the coffin while it was being guarded by the Royal Family.
“It was absolutely amazing, so moving, so beautiful. It was an incredibly long day, but we saw the king,” she said, looking delighted. “I can’t believe it. I think he’s going to be a brilliant king.”
Despite the warning of long queues – repeated at local stations – people had flocked to Southwark Park to join the line, in high spirits. By contrast, those who emerged from the Lying-In-State were calm, thoughtful and a little stiff.
Among them was former England soccer captain David Beckham who looked in tears as he waited to pass the coffin, after queuing for more than 13 hours alone, munching on crisps, sweets and donuts.
“We were all here to celebrate her majesty today and it didn’t matter how long we were there,” Beckham said, dressed in a dark suit and flat cap. “We were there for a reason. And everyone was together. It was a special few hours.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in London for the funeral, was another of those who visited Westminster Hall on Friday, stopping to curtsy as she walked past the coffin.
The oak coffin rests on a catafalque clad in purple, draped with the royal standard and surmounted by the jeweled imperial crown.
Soldiers in ceremonial uniforms and other officials watch around him as people pass by to pay their respects after their long wait. Many cried and others waved or lowered their heads.
Some 750,000 people in total are expected to file past the coffin ahead of Monday’s state funeral which presidents, prime ministers, royalty and other world leaders are due to attend.
US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Australia, Canada and Jamaica will join the Emperor of Japan among the congregation.
London police said the funeral would be the biggest security operation ever undertaken. Read more
The force has prepared for possibilities ranging from terrorist threats to protests and crowd crushes, senior police official Stuart Cundy told reporters.
VISIT TO WALES
Charles, who came to the throne on the death of his mother, traveled to Wales on Friday, the final leg of a UK tour to acknowledge his status as the new monarch and head of state and to salute the audience.
Charles and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, attended a service at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff and then spoke with cheering well-wishers outside. Read more
Wales has special meaning for the new king, who for five decades before last week’s accession held the title of Prince of Wales.
There were a few anti-monarchy protesters outside Cardiff Castle, where Charles met Welsh Prime Minister Mark Drakeford.
A man held a banner saying ‘Cancel Royals’ and a sign saying ‘End Prince of Wales Title’. Another read: “Not my king”.
Similar small protests have taken place outside Parliament in London and Edinburgh in recent days, although Charles has enjoyed a surge of support since taking over from Elizabeth. Read more
DEFENDER OF FAITH
The new king later returned to London to meet religious leaders at Buckingham Palace where he said he was determined to be “ruler of all communities”.
As monarch and supreme governor of the Church of England, Charles holds the title ‘defender of the faith’, but he said he sees his role as extending beyond his own Christian beliefs and that it had a duty to protect diversity.
“By my deepest convictions, therefore – as well as by my position as sovereign – I stand bound to respect those who follow other spiritual paths, as well as those who seek to live their lives in accordance with secular ideals,” a- he declared. religious leaders.
“I am determined, as king, to preserve and promote these principles in all communities and for all creeds, with all my heart.”
After the Queen’s children’s vigil on Friday, her eight grandchildren, including the new Prince of Wales, William, and his brother, Prince Harry, will wake at the coffin on Saturday evening.
In an adjustment to protocol, Harry and his uncle Prince Andrew were allowed to take turns wearing military uniform, royal officials said.
Both are war veterans – Andrew having served as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot in the Falklands War and Harry doing two tours of duty with the British Army in Afghanistan.
But so far only ‘working royals’ have appeared in uniform while Andrew and Harry have appeared in morning processions in costume after losing their honorary military titles when they stepped down from public royal duties .
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Additional reporting by Alistair Smout and Farouq Suleiman; Written by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Kate Holton, Alison Williams, Rosalba O’Brien and Daniel Wallis
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