Leaders and monarchs gather for final farewell to Queen Elizabeth
LONDON — Leaders and monarchs from across the globe gathered in London on Monday to bid farewell to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth at a state funeral of inimitable pageantry, marking the passing of a beloved figure who unified the nation through her 70-year reign.
Thousands of people lined the streets to witness the passage of the queen’s casket from the historic Westminster Hall to nearby Westminster Abbey, and eventually on to Windsor Castle where she will be laid to rest alongside her late husband.
U.S. President Joe Biden paid tribute to the 96-year-old, Britain’s longest-serving monarch who earned almost universal respect for her service to her country as its role in the world diminished and changed.
“You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years,” Biden said. “We all were.”
Among the crowds who came from around Britain and beyond, people were climbing lampposts and standing on barriers and ladders to catch a glimpse of the royal procession.
Millions more will watch on television at home on a public holiday declared for the occasion. The funeral of a British monarch has never been televised before.
Along the Mall, one of London’s grand ceremonial boulevards, the crowd stood 15-20 people deep in places.
Some wore smart black suits and dresses. Others were dressed in hoodies, leggings and tracksuits. A woman with dyed green hair stood next to a man in morning suit as they waited for the procession to begin.
Alistair Campbell Binnings, 64, said he left his home in Norfolk at midnight to make his way to London.
“This is a one-off. We would only be here for the queen. We just felt we had to be here. She was what we always needed in a time of crisis,” he said.
Shortly before 11 a.m. (1000 GMT), the oak coffin, covered in the Royal Standard flag with the Imperial State Crown on top, will be placed on a gun carriage and pulled by naval personnel to Westminster Abbey for her funeral.
Among the 2,000 in the congregation will be some 500 world leaders, from Biden and Emperor Naruhito of Japan to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mark Brown, prime minister of Cook Islands.
The queen’s great-grandchildren, Prince George, 9, and Princess Charlotte, 7, the two eldest children of now heir-to-the-throne Prince William, will also be attending.
“As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my family and myself in this time of grief,” Charles, Elizabeth’s son and the new king, said in a statement.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.