In London, the queues to bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II have stretched for miles. Until next Monday, some 750,000 people are expected to go to Westminster Hall, where the funeral chapel has been established. Then, on that same day, the state funeral of the monarch and her subsequent burial will take place.
The wake of Queen Elizabeth II has become a massive event. Thousands of people from different parts of the United Kingdom and the world line up outside Westminster Hall in London to say goodbye to the monarch.
The queues that line the south of the River Thames stretch for more than seven kilometers and pass by emblematic places such as Tower Bridge.
The authorities have arranged a route of up to 16 kilometers with first aid points and more than 500 portable toilets. 1,000 officials collaborate in logistics and 30 religious leaders of various beliefs participate, who come to speak with people.
According to estimates, some 750,000 people will be able to see the coffin before Monday at 6:30 local time, when the wake will end.
Mourners from all over the world come to bid farewell to the queen
Among the attendees are people who have traveled from different parts of the United Kingdom and also from various places on the planet. There are from ex-soldiers to families with babies in their arms.
As they pass near the queen’s coffin, many in attendance wipe away tears, others bow their heads or bow. Among them, Keith Smart, an engineer and veteran of the British Army, who waited more than ten hours to fire the monarch. “Everyone in the crowd behaved impeccably,” he said.
Amy Tsai said she traveled from Taiwan in May and participated in the queen’s jubilee celebrations in June. Paul Frances, another of those who attended to pay her respects, mentioned that the day before she had made “a decision to ‘get up’ very early and come here. She wanted to be part of history.”
Politicians such as former Prime Minister Theresa May have also attended Westminster Hall. The former ‘tory’ president bowed her head before the coffin before leaving the room.
The soldiers and the ‘Beefeaters’, the guardians of the Tower of London (residence of the monarch of the United Kingdom), guard the coffin in a constant vigil and for several hours, so much so that one of the men stationed next to the body of the queen vanished before the cameras.
“These events take place against the background of an outpouring of grief, affection and gratitude from the people of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world,” said the Earl Marshal, Edward Fitzalan-Howard, who is in charge of organizing state funerals. “The Queen held a unique and timeless position in all of our lives. Our aim and belief is that the State Funeral and the events of the coming days will bring people together from all over the world,” he added.
Details of the monarch’s funeral
The queen’s funeral will be the first state funeral to be held in the country after the death of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965. Around 2,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony, including heads of state and representatives from different royal houses.
On Monday, September 19, after the wake is over, the coffin will be transported by 142 soldiers from the Navy to Westminster Abbey. There will be a service there at 11:00 in the morning that will last about an hour. Completed, two minutes of silence will be observed throughout the country. London’s Heathrow Airport has announced it will stop all flights for 15 minutes before and after the ceremony is over.
The queen’s body will then follow a procession in which the new king and the royal family will walk with her from Westminster Abbey to Wellington’s Arch in Hyde Corner Park. At that moment, cannon salvos will be fired and the bell of the emblematic Big Ben will ring every minute.
Elizabeth II’s body will board the hearse and make its way to Windsor Castle, where there will be another church service in St. George’s Chapel.
Buckingham Palace officials confirmed that the queen will be buried on Monday in a private ceremony at Windsor Palace, in the George VI memorial chapel, where the remains of her husband, Philip of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021, are; those of her sister Princess Margaret and her parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
Guests from all over the world arrive in London
Although Buckingham Palace will not reveal the list of 2,000 attendees, presidents, prime ministers and royals from around the world are expected to attend the funeral. Some nations, such as Russia, Afghanistan and Syria, did not receive invitations.
French President Emmanuel Macron will attend the funeral, as will US President Joe Biden, who the White House said spoke with the new king on Wednesday and “conveyed the great admiration of the American people for the queen.”
Carlos III will lead an official act on Sunday in which he will meet with the dignitaries.
Information from the newspaper ‘The Times’ affirm that the new prime minister Liz Truss will meet, on the sidelines of the funeral, with leaders such as the US president, Joe Biden, although the meetings are classified as informal.
Among the guests are some 200 people who were awarded by the late queen for their work in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in sectors such as charity, health and education.
For Prince William, heir to the throne, the ceremonies he has attended have brought back memories of attending the funeral of his mother, Princess Diana. As he recalled, as children 25 years ago, he and his brother Harry followed the coffin as it was carried in a similar procession through central London.
The prince, speaking to those in attendance alongside the now Princess of Wales, said “yesterday’s procession was challenging… it brought back some memories.”
With AP and Reuters