“Inside it was really quite calm and incredibly emotional. A lot of people were in tears, but there was total silence,” 50-year-old accountant Sue Harvey said after emerging from the cavernous hall.
People queue to pay respect to the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II. Source: AAP / AP
“She is everything I have known. I wanted to make sure I did see her, no matter how long the queue was going to be,” she said.
“And that’s reflected actually, in all the people that are here; everybody is so jolly and cheerful, and it kind of brings out the best spirit of the UK and she just did such an amazing job.”
“You don’t need technology, it’s just nice to have that in your memory forever, and you’ll take it with you for the rest of your days.”
King Charles and royal family reunited in grief
The king, his siblings, and sons, princes William and Harry, walked at 75 steps a minute behind the gun carriage.
“It’s like completing a journey: from watching the coronation of the queen in 1953 to paying tribute to her today,” he said.
From left, Prince William, King Charles III, Prince Harry, Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence follow the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. Source: AAP / AP
The grand procession through the flag-lined heart of London represented the latest step in 11 days of intricately choreographed national mourning that will culminate with the funeral on Monday of the UK’s longest-reigning monarch.
History evoked as princes William and Harry walk behind coffin
The sight of the new king’s two grief-stricken sons inevitably evoked memories of 1997, when William and Harry, then aged just 15 and 12, walked, heads bowed, behind the coffin of their mother, Princess Diana.
The public have been warned they will face an endurance test to see the queen’s coffin with lines that could tail back eight kilometres.
“This time there is no way I can miss that. I will dedicate a few seconds there (by the coffin) to her life of dedication. What an example.”
Massive security challenge
Strict rules and airport-style security measures have been put in place, with “far more” people expected than the 200,000 who filed past the coffin of the queen’s mother when she died in 2002, according to the government.
Several people have already started queuing for the Queen’s lying-in-state. Close to a million people are expected to arrive to see the Queen’s coffin before the funeral, with massive overnight queues. Source: AAP / Cover Images
“It’s a massive challenge for the Metropolitan Police and for me personally, but we have been preparing for many, many years,” the newly appointed head of the London police force, Mark Rowley, told Sky News.
Tour of the UK
It was then driven to Buckingham Palace, past crowds of motorists who stopped their vehicles at the side of the road to catch a glimpse of the coffin, lit up in a specially built hearse.
After Scotland and England, Charles continued his tour of the four nations of the UK on Tuesday by visiting Northern Ireland for the first time as king. He visits Wales on Friday.
The mourning has also obscured — albeit briefly — the broader country’s sharp political divisions and a severe cost-of-living crisis that is expected to cause a major increase in poverty over the winter.
Rangers’ and Napoli’s player observe a minute’s silence to mark the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Scotland’s Rangers and Italy’s Napoli at Ibrox stadium in Glasgow, on 14 September, 2022. Source: Getty / (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Not everyone shares the public mood of sadness and remembrance sparked by the queen’s death, with royal fatigue increasingly evident on social media in the face of blanket media coverage.
British police have also faced criticism from civil liberties groups over their treatment of anti-monarchy protesters who have publicly challenged Charles’s accession to the throne.
The queen’s funeral will take place in Westminster Abbey, next to parliament, in front of 2,000 VIP guests, with the day declared a public holiday in Britain.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese bound for Queen’s funeral
Hundreds of heads of state and government, as well as global royalty, are expected, but Russia, Belarus and Myanmar have not been invited to send representatives.
Alongside his counterparts from other Commonwealth nations, the prime minister will also meet the King at Buckingham Palace.
Imperial State Crown placed on the queen’s coffin
Her Majesty the Queen’s coffin as it is transported to the Palace of Westminster, before lying in state in Westminster Hall in London. Source: AAP / Sipa USA
Britain’s Imperial State Crown, which rests atop Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin as her casket lies in state, is a powerful symbol of royal wealth, majesty and sovereignty.
— Additional reporting by Ben Lewis
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