Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward must watch over the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall for fifteen minutes, without interrupting the presentation of the remains to the public.
the King Charles III and the three other children of Elizabeth II watched Friday evening, September 16, at her coffin on display in London, surrounded by many anonymous people who braved a very long wait to greet their queen before her funeral.
Placed around it, turning their backs head down, Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward watched for ten minutes over the coffin draped with the royal standard and adorned with the imperial crown, placed on an imposing catafalque in the oldest room of the British Parliament, Westminster Hall. They had already done the same on Monday in Edinburgh, where the remains of the sovereign had arrived after her death at her estate in Balmoral, Scotland, on September 8. For the occasion, Andrew, deprived of military titles following a sex scandal, was authorized to wear the uniform, like his siblings.
24 hour wait
During this solemnvigil of princes“, a tradition dating back to the death of King George V in 1936, the crowd was able to continue to file in front of the coffin, as it has done in a continuous flow since Wednesday afternoon. Proof of the immense emotion aroused by the death of Queen Elizabeth, unanimously hailed for her devotion to the Crown, the interminable line to collect has continued to lengthen Friday, exceeding at one point more than 24 hours of ‘waiting.
“My ankles hurt horribly, but it’s a small sacrifice to make“Told AFP Peter Stratford, 70, resting briefly after waiting eight hours. “I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this“, added this former firefighter who had intervened during a major fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, where Elizabeth II will be buried on Monday. As earlier in the day, the authorities once again temporarily suspended access to the long queue that winds for miles in the capital on Friday evening. It will reopen at noon on Saturday.
The public will be able to file past the coffin of Elizabeth II until early morning Monday, before the state funeral at 12 p.m., the first of its kind since that of Winston Churchill in 1965. Then, a procession will accompany the coffin to the ‘Westminster Abbey where the funeral will be held. Millions of people are expected to follow the event in front of their televisions on this public holiday in the United Kingdom.
Some 2,000 guests, including several hundred leaders from around the world, crowned heads, but also anonymous people decorated for their associative commitment, will attend the ceremony. Joe Biden, Ursula von der Leyen, the Emperor of Japan, or even Emmanuel Macron are expected, while the Pope will be represented. The leaders of Russia, Afghanistan, Burma, Syria and North Korea were not invited.
The event represents an unprecedented security challenge for the United Kingdom, which has deployed an impressive system in the capital, with numerous reinforcements from all over the country. “This will be the biggest event that the London policehad to frame, said Assistant Deputy Commissioner Stuart Cundy on Friday, even more imposing than the 2012 Olympics. A few hours earlier, the attack on two police officers, who were stabbed in central London, which is not not considered a terrorist act by the authorities, raised the tension a notch.