AFP, published on Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 01:05
Dignitaries and crowned heads who will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, who died nine days ago, are beginning to flock to London, including US President Joe Biden who landed on Saturday evening near the capital under high surveillance.
The tenant of the White House and his wife must go to meditate on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. GMT in front of the remains of the monarch, still on display 24 hours a day to the public in London.
It is not known whether Westminster Hall will be evacuated for the occasion to guarantee the safety of the American president. During the wakes observed by members of the royal family or other heads of state, the flow of visitors had not been interrupted.
Joe Biden will attend a reception hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace on Sunday evening for dignitaries in attendance.
While for the king, the diplomatic ball began on Saturday with a meeting with the representatives of 14 other kingdoms of the Commonwealth, including Canada, New Zealand or Australia, his wife, the queen consort Camilla, expressed publicly for the first time since the death of Elizabeth II.
– “Lonely woman” –
“It must have been so difficult for her to be a solitary woman. There were no female prime ministers or presidents. She was the only one, so I think she carved out her own role,” said so declared the queen consort in an interview which will be broadcast in full by the BBC on Sunday, before a minute of silence observed by all of the United Kingdom at 8:00 p.m. local time (19:00 GMT).
Praising the late sovereign’s “unforgettable” smile, Camilla, long unloved by Britons who saw her as a home wrecker for being Charles’ mistress when he was married to Princess Diana, had so far remained very discreet since the September 8 death of Elizabeth.
It was not until last February that Elizabeth II gave her consent for Camilla to become “queen consort” when the time came.
For nine days, the wife of Charles III has nimbly slipped into her new costume, alongside the new monarch and assists him in his task, in particular for the organization of the first state funeral since those of the former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965.
London is preparing feverishly for this event, which attracts distinguished guests to the capital, including, in addition to the American president, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the president of the European Council Charles Michel.
The Turkish presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro will also come, the Japanese emperor Naruhito for his first trip abroad since his accession to the throne in 2019, or even the Saudi prince Mohammed ben Salmane, known as “MBS”.
Many crowned heads have been invited, like Prince Albert of Monaco or the King of Spain Felipe VI, as well as his father Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in 2014 and now lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates.
Westminster Abbey, where the funeral will be held Monday at 10:00 GMT, can accommodate 2,000 people.
For the police, the event promises to be even more imposing than the 2012 Olympic Games. But the protocol has been seen and revised for many years and the royal troops tirelessly repeat the course in the streets.
– “Brother enemies” reunited –
During this time, the relatives of the deceased continued to pay tribute to her, at the same time as the population waiting more than 5 p.m. to see the coffin for a few seconds.
Princes William and Harry, often referred to as enemy brothers, were reunited on Saturday evening on the occasion of a funeral wake for the eight grandchildren of Elizabeth II under the gaze of visitors around the remains of the very popular sovereign, died on September 8 at the age of 96 after more than 70 years of reign.
The two brothers were in uniform – Harry no longer wore it since his shattering retirement from the monarchy – unlike their six cousins Peter, Zara, Beatrice, Eugenie, Louise, reputed to be the Queen’s favorite granddaughter, and James, rarely appeared in public.
Scrambled since 2020 since Harry announced in March 2020 to distance himself from the royal family, the two children of King Charles III and the late Princess Diana had already created a surprise by appearing together with their wives Kate and Meghan two days later. the death of the Queen, during a walkabout in front of Windsor Castle.
– Last chance to see the Queen –
“I love you William!”: The eldest of the two brothers enjoys strong popularity, as he was able to verify again on Saturday noon, when he went with his father to meet the British queuing for his bow before the coffin.
The hours are now counted to meditate before the remains of the sovereign, placed in a closed coffin surmounted by the sumptuous imperial crown.
A rare incident in the ongoing tributes: A man was indicted for disturbing public order after he left the line and approached the coffin on Friday, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Saturday evening.
The public has until Monday morning 06:30 (05:30 GMT) to pay a last tribute to Elizabeth II, final farewells in meditation, sometimes tears, for a queen who has become a symbol of unity and stability during her reign, d a record length in UK history.
Elizabeth II will be buried privately in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, west London, with her father King George VI and her husband Prince Philip.