- King Charles visits Wales, last stop of his UK tour
- The King and his brothers stand awake on Friday night
- Police conduct a massive security operation before the funeral
LONDON (Reuters) – As tens of thousands of people flocked to London ahead of Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral on Monday, the miles-long queue of mourners waiting to be seen lying in state was temporarily closed on Friday after it swelled to capacity. .
People of all ages and from all walks of life paid their respects to the late Queen, joining a well-ordered line running along the south bank of the Thames and then over the river to Westminster Hall of Parliament.
But by mid-morning, the line was quite large – a testament to the public’s respect and affection for the Queen, who died in Scotland on 8 September at the age of 96 after 70 years of reign.
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“Admission will be paused for at least 6 hours. Please do not try to join the waiting list until it reopens,” the British Ministry of Culture said shortly before 10 am (0900 GMT).
He warned of waiting times of up to 12 hours. A total of 750,000 people are expected to deposit the Queen’s coffin.
On Friday evening, King Charles, who was visiting Wales on Friday, and his sister Princess Anne and two brothers, Princes Andrew and Edward, stood silently vigil around the coffin, to join the ceremonial guard for 15 minutes.
“I don’t feel any sensations at all in my knees or in my legs,” said Hyacinth Appah, a mourner from London who was on the waiting list.
“But things are fine. Most of the people were nice and we had a great time.”
Another builder from London, Naomi Brown, said she waited nearly 11 hours after joining the waiting list Thursday night after work.
Brown, 29, told Reuters as she approached the bow of the ship.
“She was such a good symbol of our country. Looks like we’ve lost a family member.”
The sarcophagus in Old Westminster Hall stands on a purple-clad catafalque, encased in the royal standard with the jeweled Imperial State crown set on top.
Soldiers in ceremonial uniforms and other officials stay vigil around it as people walk past to pay tribute after their long wait. Many were shedding tears, and others saluted them or bowed their heads.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is in London for the funeral, was among those who visited Westminster Hall on Friday, stopping in front of the coffin.
London police said the state funeral would be their largest security operation ever, as prime ministers, presidents and members of the royal family gather to pay their respects.
Senior police official Stuart Conde told reporters that the force was preparing for events ranging from terrorist threats to protests and crowds.
US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron are among the overseas guests who have confirmed they will attend.
Meanwhile, King Charles, who ascended the throne after his mother’s death, was visiting Wales, the final leg of a tour of the UK to acknowledge his status as the new king and head of state and to greet the public.
Charles and his wife Camilla, Queen Consort, attended a service at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff and then spoke with well-wishers outside.
Wales is of particular importance for the new king, who for the five decades prior to his assumption of the title last week was the Prince of Wales.
Speaking in the Welsh Parliament, Charles said: “Throughout her years the land of Wales could not have been closer to my mother’s heart. I know she was very proud of your many great accomplishments – even as I also felt deeply with you in a time of grief.”
“I am determined to honor this dedicated example,” he said, speaking in Welsh and English.
“I do my new duties with great gratitude for the privilege of being able to serve as Prince of Wales. This old title… has now passed on to my son William.”
There were a few anti-monarchist protesters outside Cardiff Castle, where Charles met Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.
A man holds up a sign that reads “Abolition of Kings” and a sign that reads “Prince of Wales.” Another man raised a sign that read “No to the Royalty, No to Charles, Big Reset.” Another read: “Not mine.”
Similar small protests have been held outside Parliament and in Edinburgh over the past days, although King Charles has enjoyed a surge of support since succeeding Elizabeth. Read more
A royal family spokesman said the new Prince of Wales, William, his brother Prince Harry and the Queen’s six other grandchildren will stand in the coffin on Saturday evening.
Royal officials said that in an amendment to protocol, both Harry and his uncle Prince Andrew will be allowed to wear military uniforms when they take turns in vigils. Andrew will be on duty with his brothers on Friday evening.
Both veterans, Andrew served as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot in the Falklands War, and Harry spent two rounds of service with the British Army in Afghanistan.
But they have so far appeared in processions in morning suits that they have lost their honorary military titles when they step back from their public royal duties.
The state funeral is likely to be one of the largest celebrations the British capital has ever seen, with thousands of military personnel taking part.
Earl Marshall, Edward Fitzalan Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who is in charge of state events, said he hoped the funeral would “unite people all over the world”.
London Heathrow Airport said it would cancel 15% of its flight schedule on Monday to reduce noise over the city and to ensure a calm atmosphere during two minutes of silence at the end of the funeral. Read more
Monday has been declared a national holiday. Many stores will be closed and a host of other economic activities will be halted. Thousands of people face canceled appointments or surgeries under the government health service.
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Additional reporting by Alistair Smoot and Farouk Suleiman. Written by Angus McSwan; Editing by Kate Holton and Alison Williams
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