Prince William and Prince Harry Beware of the Queen at Westminster Hall

LONDON – One by one, they stood in front of the coffin, straight back, shoulder square, pulling pigtails. Most bowed, some bent and others kissed. Many blessings for yourself. A few in military caps raised their hands in a clear salute.

Tens of thousands of people waited up to 24 hours to pay their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday, their individual acts of mourning becoming a vast national expression of the pass away.

It was the third day that the queen’s body was laid in state under the quaint dome-shaped roof of Westminster Hall. With foreign leaders and royals arriving in London for her funeral on Monday, the endless river of ordinary people was joined by dignitaries from far-flung kingdoms: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Canada and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia.

At 6pm, Prince William and Prince Harry stood by the catafalque to stand guard over their grandmother, who died on September 8. Both wore military uniforms – Harry had received special permission from his father, King Charles IIIto do so, despite giving up his honorary rank when withdraw from royal duties and moved to Southern California with his American-born wife, Meghan.

Harry, who served as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan and dealt with his relationship with the military, donned a morning suit in official ceremony in 10 days mourning period for the queen. A spokesman for the prince, who is also known as the Duke of Sussex, has said that Harry is pleased to wear civilian clothes.

The brothers were joined at the catafalque by their six cousins, the children of Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Earlier on Saturday, William, Prince of Walesjoin the king in a impromptu visit for those who have spent the night in line – or as the British have branded it for the past two days,”Queue. As the two shook hands, the somewhat weary crowd broke out in cries of “God save the king” and “hip, hip, hooray!”

When he told a woman who had waited 12 hours, William said, “You look very good.” After a handshake, he said, “Hands are warm,” Dou laughed as he complimented the person for dressing appropriately to avoid the overnight cold.

However, for some people, the wait is too much. By Saturday afternoon, paramedics had treated several hundred people, most of whom complained of dehydration or felt faint. Dozens of people were taken to hospitals. With temperatures forecast to drop to 47 degrees on Sunday night, police have warned people to give up.

Queuing, crossing the Thames and winding for miles along the river’s south bank to Southwark Park, has quickly become a sort of cultural phenomenon. Many see it as the ultimate expression of British democracy. Football star David Beckham is recognized on social media for lining up like everyone else.

While most of the people in the line were funny and well behaved, one man was charged reveal yourself and overwhelm everyone in the crowd, according to the BBC. He was charged with two counts of sexual assault.

The queen’s coffin will remain in place at the Palace of Westminster until Monday morning, when it will be taken to Westminster Abbey for a funeral. On Saturday, authorities in London were gearing up for one of the biggest public events ever in a city that has hosted royal weddings, the Olympic Games and just in June. , A four-day platinum ceremony to mark 70 years on the queen’s throne.

Among the logistical challenges will be coordinating the visits of hundreds of foreign heads of state and other dignitaries. Mr Trudeau’s motorcade made its way through the crowded crowd on Saturday as he left Westminster Hall after paying his respects to the queen. He then went to Buckingham Palace, where King Charles played host to a reception for the prime ministers of the kingdom.

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden are expected to arrive in London on Saturday night. There are no plans for him to meet Prime Minister Liz Truss during the visit, Downing Street said on Saturday. Instead, Ms. Truss will meet Biden for the first time as prime minister on Wednesday in New York City, where the two will attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting, her office said.

The mood among the crowd in London was calm, although police were on high alert. As a carefree young man on a bicycle walked down a closed street, one block from Westminster Hall, an officer pinned him to the ground, to cheers from the crowd. He was led away by the police, seemingly unharmed.

After that, many people lined up in the square outside Parliament, chatting and taking selfies with the recently renovated Big Ben. It was a freaky crowd, some wearing t-shirts and jeans, while others wore morning vests. Among the key figures who paid their respects was Michael Heseltine, who served as deputy prime minister and played a role in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s downfall.

Inside Westminster Hall, however, one could feel the tight shell, broken only by the footsteps of the guards on the stone floor, as they alternately stood by the coffin every 20 minutes. time. Shuffled out of the hall, many in the crowd wiped away tears. Others comfort each other with a pat on the back or an arm thrown over the shoulder.

And most of all: a dreary backward look into the coffin of a beloved queen before they reappeared in the sunlight.

Isabella Kwai contribution report.

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