LONDON (AP) — Thousands of people spent the coldest night in months in London, queuing to see Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin. Officials warned on Saturday that arriving mourners would have to wait 16 hours for her.
Police arrested a man after what police described as “disturbance” at Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament on Friday night. There lay the Queen’s coffin, covered with a royal standard and topped with a crown studded with diamonds.
Congress officials said someone had gotten out of line and tried to approach the coffin on the platform.
The flow of people wanting to say goodbye to the Queen has grown steadily since the public first entered the hall on Wednesday. We have temporarily suspended additional visitor participation at the tail end of the line that snakes around the park.
Overnight, the temperature dropped to 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit), so volunteers handed out blankets and tea to people in line. Despite the weather, mourners described the warmth of the shared experience.
“It was cold at night, but I had great company and met new friends. The friendships were great,” said Chris Harman of London. “It was worth it. I’ve done it over and over again. I’ll walk to the ends of the earth for my Queen.”
There were myriad reasons people came here, from their love for the Queen to the desire to be part of a historic moment. Simon Hopkins, who traveled from his home in central England, likened it to a “pilgrimage”.
“(It’s) a little weird, because that sort of thing goes against my grain,” he said. “I’m kind of drawn into it.”
While the Queen’s four children, Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, stood guard around a flag-draped coffin for 15 minutes, the public quietly walked into Westminster Hall. It kept flowing. Only the baby’s cry was heard.
Ahead of the memorial service, Edward said the royal family was “overwhelmed by the wave of emotion that has overwhelmed us and the sheer number of people who have gone out of their way to express their love, admiration and respect for our dear Mama. It is done.”
All eight of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren are due to stay up all night by her coffin on Saturday. Attend with Peter Phillips. Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Two children of Prince Edward – Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
William, heir to the throne after his grandmother’s death, stands at the head of the coffin and Harry at its feet. Both veteran princes are in uniform.
Most senior royals hold honorary military roles and wear uniforms in honor of the Queen. He and his wife Meghan retired from royal duties and moved to the United States in 2020.
However, the King demanded that both William and Harry wear military uniforms for the all-night vigil at Westminster Hall.
People queuing to meet the Queen are of all ages and come from all walks of life. Many people bowed in front of the coffin and made signs of the cross. Several veterans flashed their medals in the spotlight and gave a sharp salute. some cried. Many hugged away and were proud to have lined up for hours to pay their respects.
By Friday, the wait had ballooned to 24 hours. Among the mourners was former England footballer David Beckham, his captain, who stood in line for nearly 12 hours for the tribute. Dressed in a white shirt and black tie, he bowed briefly to the coffin before leaving his hall at Westminster.
Beckham later told reporters: “As a country we are lucky to have someone as kind, caring and always reassuring as Her Majesty has guided us.
The lying state is expected to last until Monday morning, when the Queen’s coffin was taken to nearby Westminster Abbey for a state funeral, a 10-day national mourning for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. Elizabeth, 96, died at Balmoral House in Scotland on September 8, after 70 years on the throne.
Hundreds of heads of state, royal families and political leaders from around the world are flying to London to attend the funerals, including US President Joe Biden, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.
After the monastery service, the late Queen’s coffin is taken by horse-drawn carriage to the historic center of London. She will then be driven to Windsor in her hearse and buried with her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.
Hundreds of troops from the British Army, Air Force and Navy took part in early morning rehearsals on Saturday for the final march. As the troops lined the Long Walk, the picturesque lane leading to Windsor Castle, drumming echoed through the night as his band marched in front of the hearse.
According to London Police, the funeral will be the largest police event ever handled by police, surpassing the 2012 Summer Olympics and the Platinum Jubilee, which will celebrate the Queen’s 70th anniversary in June.
“The range of officers, police personnel and all those supporting the operation is truly immense,” said Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Stuart Cundy.
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