Britain and the world prepare to say a final goodbye to Queen Elizabeth

By Michael Holden and Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain, world leaders and royalty around the world will on Monday bid a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth, the last towering figure of her era, at a state funeral of inimitable pageantry.

At 6:30 a.m. (0530 GMT), an official rest period in the state ends after four days in which hundreds of thousands of people lined up to march past the coffin of Grande’s oldest monarch. Britain at historic Westminster Hall in London.

Like many others around the world, including US President Joe Biden, they wanted to pay tribute to the 96-year-old who had spent seven decades on the British throne.

“You were lucky to have had her for 70 years,” Biden said. “We all were.”

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Shortly before 11 a.m. the oak coffin, draped in the Royal Standard flag with the Imperial Crown on top, will be placed on a gun carriage and pulled by naval personnel to Westminster Abbey for his funeral https:/ /

Among the 2,000 members of the congregation will be some 500 world leaders , including Biden, Emperor Naruhito of Japan, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Queen’s great-grandchildren Prince George, 9, and Princess Charlotte, 7, the two eldest children of heir to the throne Prince William, will also attend.

“Over the past 10 days, my wife and I have been so deeply touched by the many messages of condolence and support we have received from this country and around the world,” said Charles, son of Elizabeth and new king. , in a press release.

“As we all prepare to say our final goodbyes, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such support and comfort to me and my family during this time of grief. .”

Elizabeth died on September 8 at her Scottish summer home, Balmoral Castle.

Her health was in decline and for months the monarch who had carried out hundreds of official engagements well into her 90s retired from public life, although just two days before her death she named Liz Truss her 15th and last Prime Minister.

Her longevity and her inextricable bond with Britain were such that even her own family saw her go through a shock.

“We all thought she was invincible,” Prince William told well-wishers.

The fortieth ruler in a line that dates back to 1066, Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952, Britain’s first post-imperial monarch.

She oversaw her nation trying to carve out a new place for itself in the world, and she was instrumental in the emergence of the Commonwealth of Nations, now a grouping comprising 56 countries.

When she succeeded her father George VI, Winston Churchill was her first Prime Minister and Josef Stalin led the Soviet Union. She met almost every major figure from politics to entertainment and sports, including Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Pelé and Roger Federer.

Although reputed to be only 5ft 3in (1.6m) tall, she dominated plays with her presence and became a towering global figure, praised in death from Paris and Washington to Moscow and Beijing. National mourning was observed in Brazil, Jordan and Cuba, countries with which she had little direct connection.

“Queen Elizabeth II was without a doubt the most recognizable figure in the world, the most photographed person in history, the most recognizable person, and the fact that world leaders will flock to London for the funeral. .says a lot about this iconic figure,” historian Anthony Seldon told Reuters.

Transport chiefs said a million people were expected in central London for the funeral, while police said it would be the biggest security operation ever in the capital.

King Charles, his siblings and sons Princes William and Harry, along with other members of the Windsor family, will walk slowly behind the coffin as it is carried in the cannon carriage to the Abbey of Westminster, led by some 200 pipers and drummers.

The Abbey’s bell – the site of coronations, weddings and burials of English and then British kings and queens for nearly 1,000 years – will sound 96 times.

“Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the country, from the Commonwealth and from nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service,” said David Hoyle. , the Dean of Westminster will say.

As well as dignitaries, the congregation will include those who have been awarded Britain’s highest military and civilian gallantry medals, representatives of charities supported by the Queen and those who have made “extraordinary contributions” to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19.

Tens of millions of people in Britain and abroad are expected to attend the monarch’s funeral, which has never before been televised -cinemas-big-city-screens-show-queens-funeral-2022-09-17/. It will end with the Last Post trumpet salute before the church and nation fall silent for two minutes.

Then the coffin will be brought through central London, past Queen Buckingham’s Palace which houses Wellington’s Arch at Hyde Park Corner, with the Monarch and Royal Family following again on foot during the 1.5-minute procession mile (2.4 km).

From there he will be placed on a hearse to be driven to Windsor Castle, west London, for a service at St George’s Chapel. It will culminate in the crown, orb and scepter – symbols of the monarch’s power and governance – being removed from the coffin and placed on the altar.

The Lord Chamberlain, the highest official in the royal household, will break his “wand of office”, signifying the end of his service to the sovereign, and place it on the coffin.

It will then be lowered into the royal vault while the Sovereign’s bagpiper plays a lament, slowly walking away until the music in the chapel gradually fades away.

Later in the evening, at a private family service, the coffin of Elizabeth and her husband of more than seven decades, Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99, will be buried together at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, where his parents and sister, Princess Margaret, also rest.

“We are so happy to have you back with grandpa. Goodbye dear grandma, it has been the honor of our lives to have been your granddaughters and we are so proud of you,” they said. the granddaughters of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie

(Reporting by Michael Holden and Kate Holton; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Daniel Wallis)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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Edward L. Robinett