King Charles III and his heir Prince William enjoyed a surprise walkabout on Saturday as Britons faced miles of queuing to bow before the coffin of Elizabeth II before her funeral on Monday. The hours are now counted to meditate before the remains of the sovereign, who died last week at the age of 96 and after more than 70 years of reign.
Two days before the ‘funeral of the century’, for which foreign dignitaries have started to flock, the wait in line along the Thames to Westminster Hall in London, before viewing the coffin, was estimated to be around from 2 p.m. Saturday to midday.
Accompanied by Prince William, the new sovereign Charles III came for about twenty minutes to meet the crowd which has been marching non-stop since Wednesday evening. He exchanged a few words and shook hands, as he did several times during the tour that took him all week through the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom, from Belfast to Cardiff. Staying longer, the very popular heir to the throne thanked the public, worrying about the state of their feet, under the cries of “I love you William!”.
The one who now bears the title of Prince of Wales will join the seven other grandchildren of the Queen on Saturday evening – including her brother Harry, with whom relations are notoriously difficult – for a vigil of the coffin of the late Queen.
“The vigil of the princes” Friday by the four children of Elizabeth II – Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward – in uniform with their backs to the coffin moved the country and made the front page of many newspapers on Saturday. For the occasion, Andrew, deprived of most of his titles following accusations of sexual assault, had been authorized to wear the uniform. London is preparing feverishly for its first state funeral since that of Winston Churchill in 1965.
They are the biggest event ever framed by the London police, she said. Bigger than the 2012 London Olympics. A rare incident in the ongoing tributes: A man was arrested on Friday night after leaving the line and approaching the coffin, authorities said.
Up to 2,000 guests from all over the world
The public has until Monday morning 06:30 (05:30 GMT) to pay a last tribute to the sovereign, final farewells in meditation, sometimes tears, for a sovereign who has become a symbol of unity and stability during her reign. an unprecedented length in the history of the United Kingdom. A procession will then accompany the coffin to Westminster Abbey where the funeral will be held at 10:00 GMT.
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. US President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the Emperor of Japan, and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected.
Diplomatic ballet for Charles
After a final procession, Elizabeth II will be buried privately on Monday in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, west London, next to her father King George VI and her husband Prince Philip. Before the grandiose funeral at Westminster Abbey, Charles III begins an intense diplomatic sequence at Buckingham Palace on Saturday. The monarch will notably welcome in the afternoon the Prime Ministers of the 14 Commonwealth kingdoms, including Justin Trudeau (Canada), Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand) and Anthony Albanese (Australia).
The leaders of the organization, to which Elizabeth II was very attached but which is shaken by the republican temptations of certain members, in the Caribbean in particular, should have the opportunity to go and meditate in front of the coffin of Elizabeth II, draped of the royal standard and adorned with the imperial crown. Ms. Ardern has already been there on Friday.
On Sunday afternoon, Charles III, who became king at the age of 73, will welcome heads of state for a reception. The British Prime Minister, the conservative Liz Truss, in power for ten days, must meet several leaders before the funeral, including Joe Biden, the head of the Irish government Micheal Martin, and Justin Trudeau.