Maidens among thousands paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

US President Joe Biden paid his respects in front of Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin on Sunday as thousands of police, hundreds of British troops and an army of officials made final preparations for a home-level funeral. Queen’s Country – a spectacular national mourning that will also be the biggest festival of world leaders in years.

People across England stopped for a minute of silence at 8pm to remember the only monarch most people have ever known. At Westminster Hall, where the queen was lying in a casket, the continuous stream of mourners stopped for 60 seconds as everyone watched the minute of reflection in deep silence.

In Windsor, where the queen will be laid to rest on Monday night after her funeral at Westminster Abbey, rain began to fall as the crowd fell silent for a moment of reflection. Some have set up small camps and chairs outside Windsor Castle, with plans to spend the night there to reserve the best spots to view the queen’s coffin when it arrives.

“Well, that’s just one night and day of our lives. Elizabeth has given us – you know – 70 years. So the rest of it isn’t much to ask, is it?” said Fred Sweeney, 52, who planted two Confederate flags on large flagpoles.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden were among thousands of mourners – from locals and tourists to royalty and world leaders – to pay their respects. The president made the sign of the cross and placed his hand over his heart as he stood quietly near the coffin in the ornate 900-year-old hall with his wife and US Ambassador Jane Hartley.

Biden then signed the official condolence book and attended Sunday’s reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by King Charles III. He was one of 500 world leaders and royals invited to Monday’s state funeral, along with hundreds of British dignitaries, politicians, military veterans and charity workers.

Biden called Queen Elizabeth II “kind”, “honorable” and “all about service” as he signed the condolence book, saying his heart goes out to the royal family.

“Queen Elizabeth lived her life to the fullest for her people,” wrote Jill Biden in her book for spouses and ambassadors. “She served with wisdom and grace. We will never forget her warmth, kindness and the conversations we shared.”

One absentee would be Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose invitation has drawn criticism from human rights groups for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate. in Istanbul in 2018. Saudi Arabia is expected to be represented by another royal, Crown Prince Turki bin Mohammed.

As dignitaries poured in, hundreds hoped to see the queen’s coffin being prepared to spend the night outside in the longest line many had ever seen. Authorities closed the mile-long store late on Sunday so everyone in line could file through the coffin before Monday morning, when it will be taken to Westminster Abbey for the queen’s funeral.

Family by family, thousands continued to line up around the clock, despite the frigid temperatures overnight and waiting for up to 17 hours in a line stretching more than 5 miles (8 km).

Lauren Wilson, 36, is in a much shorter queue for people with mobility problems. She said she wanted to experience firsthand what state the coffin was in.

“The world was in a strange place and then this happened. It felt more meaningful,” she said.

She worries that the pageantry surrounding Elizabeth’s death makes it impossible for the queen’s relatives to cope with their loss.

“Families are not allowed to grieve. I find it quite heartbreaking,” she said.

The queen’s eight grandchildren, led by the heir to the throne, Prince William, circled the coffin and stood bowing during a silent vigil on Saturday night.

Among the foreign leaders in London was New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who told the BBC she was humbled to be representing her nation at the funeral and to witness the mourning and respect. for the late queen.

“What I’m going to take away at this stage is just the beauty of the public response, the kindness you see from members of the public, the patience, the camaraderie. It’s respect. The most moving honor for me. , has received a public response from the British people,” she said.

Monday has been declared a holiday to honor Elizabeth, who died on September 8 at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne. Her funeral will be televised to more than 200 countries and territories worldwide and shown to crowds in parks and public spaces across the country.

Police officers from around the country will be on duty as part of the largest single-day policing operation in London’s history.

Camilla, the queen’s consort, paid tribute to her mother-in-law in a video message, saying the monarch had “portrayed her own role” as a “lonely woman” on the world stage. male-dominated world.

“I will always remember her smile. It was unforgettable,” said Camilla, who is married to Charles.

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, was also among the mourners paying respects to the queen’s coffin. British royal officials said Zelenska met Catherine, Princess of Wales, at Buckingham Palace on Sunday afternoon. They did not disclose further details. The British government has been one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters since the country was invaded by Russia in February.

Saturday night, it’s his grandson’s mourning time. William and Prince Harry, sons of Charles, with children of Princess Anne, Zara Tindall and Peter Philips; Daughters of Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie; and Prince Edward’s two children – Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.

William stood bowing before the coffin and Harry at his feet. Both princes, both ex-soldiers, wore uniforms. The crowd slowly, quietly passed by.

“You can see they’re thinking a lot about their grandmother, the queen,” said Ian Mockett, a civil engineer from Oxford, in the south of England. “It’s good to see them all together as a collection of grandparents, given the things that have happened in the last few years.”

The dormant state will continue until early Monday morning, when the queen’s coffin will be moved in a gun carriage towed by 142 Royal Navy sailors to nearby Westminster Abbey for a funeral. the end of 10 days of national mourning for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

Following Monday’s ceremony at the abbey, the coffin of the late queen will be transported through London’s historic center on a state gun carriage. It will then be taken in a hearse to Windsor, where the queen will be interred with her late husband, Prince Philip, who passed away last year aged 99.

Sumita Tanda lays down scarlet roses as a large memorial flower blooms near Windsor Castle.

“I feel so honored to be a local resident of Windsor,” she said. “I just wanted to pay my respects.”

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