“This is where history is made”: this is how the world gives the queen the last escort

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Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of London for the state funeral for Elizabeth II. Presidents, heads of government and crowned heads from around the world have traveled to the funeral service. The British capital is in a state of emergency.

More than a week and a half after her death, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is today honored with a state funeral. Heads of state and government, royalty and dignitaries from around the world will attend the funeral service at Westminster Abbey (12:00 CEST). In several processions, the coffin is then led through town and to Windsor, about 22 miles to the west. There the queen finds her final resting place in the evening.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the funeral procession as King Charles III, his three siblings and his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, walk past the coffin. Equipped with tents and camping chairs, many secured a spot the day before with a good view of the procession route.

In a statement that evening, the king was “deeply touched” by the many messages of condolences and support he and his family had received. The approximately 2,000 mourners at Westminster Abbey include US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Japanese Emperor Naruhito with their respective partners. The BBC quoted a foreign diplomat as saying: “This is the funeral of the century”. As announced on the eve of the funeral service, 9-year-old Prince George and 7-year-old Princess Charlotte, the two older children of the heir apparent Prince William and Princess Kate, will also be in attendance.

Steinmeier: “A sincere and great sorrow”

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also spoke of an “event of the century”. “People were used to gathering behind this queen for over 70 years, and now everyone feels that something is missing, and it’s not just missing in Britain and London, it’s missing worldwide,” Steinmeier told ZDF on Sunday. “Today’s Journal”. He said of his impressions from the British capital: “It is a genuine and great sadness and dismay that the people here in London are showing.” The Federal President and his wife Elke Büdenbender said their goodbyes to the Queen on Sunday evening with a visit to the coffin that was set up in parliament.

Even on Monday evening, many people flocked to Westminster Hall to pay their last respects to the Queen. However, according to the responsible ministry, the queue was closed to newcomers at around 10:40 PM local time in the evening. Many thousands of people have queued for miles in recent days to pay their last respects to Elizabeth II.

US President Biden and First Lady Jill also said goodbye to the Queen at the coffin on Sunday. Biden paid tribute to the late Queen as “decent” and “honorable” when he signed a book of condolence at Lancaster House in London. The Queen has always stood for treating people with dignity. She always conveyed the “idea of ​​service”. Her death is “a loss that leaves a huge hole,” he said.

Effort comparable to 100 state visits

Ahead of Monday’s gigantic state act, the police, secret services and anti-terrorist units in Britain are coordinating one of the largest security operations the capital has ever witnessed. More than 10,000 members of the British Army would be deployed. A government official told the BBC the effort was equivalent to 100 state visits in a matter of days. According to meteorologists, at least it will remain dry in the morning – light showers are possible from noon.

Several states with which Britain has poor or no relations have not been invited. Most notable is the absence of Russia. The participation of Japanese Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako is considered a special honor. Traditionally, Japanese monarchs do not actually attend funerals, either at home or abroad.

But it was astonishing that Naruhito, like most guests of honor, had to travel by bus to Westminster Abbey. This should help prevent traffic chaos. As the BBC reported, there would be few exceptions, such as for US President Biden or Israeli President Izchak Herzog.

Private funeral ceremony

After the funeral service at Westminster Abbey, the coffin is taken to Wellington Arch in a procession on a carriage drawn by 98 Marines – a cart designed for cannons. The king and other members of the royal family give the queen the last escort on foot. From Wellington Arch, the hearse continues to Windsor, where another procession is scheduled. A funeral service will follow at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Later in the evening, the Queen will be buried in a private ceremony in a side chapel with her husband, Prince Philip, who passed away last year.

Thousands gathered in central London the day before the state funeral. Distances that could otherwise be covered on foot in minutes have become hurdles due to barriers at every corner. The mourners flocked to Green Park with bouquets of flowers, where a gigantic sea of ​​flowers has formed during the week of mourning.

Nicole Alford was one of those who had landed a spot on London’s boulevard known as The Mall the day before. The 40-year-old traveled all the way from the US state of Georgia to witness the state funeral. “I just love the Queen,” she said, adding, “I just had to be there, history is being made here.”

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