US President Joe Biden paid his respects at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday as thousands of police, hundreds of British soldiers and an army of officials made final preparations for the queen’s state funeral – a dramatic display of national mourning that all There will also be a larger gathering. of world leaders over the years
Biden and first lady Jill Biden were among thousands of mourners – from locals and tourists to royals and world leaders – to pay their respects at Westminster Hall, where the Queen lies in state. The president made the sign of the cross and put his hand over his heart as he stood silently by the casket in the 900-year-old hall with his wife and US Ambassador Jane Hartley.
Biden then signed an official condolence book and attended a reception hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace on Sunday. She is one of 500 world leaders and royals invited to the Queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, along with hundreds of British charity workers.
Biden called Queen Elizabeth II “decent” and “honorable” and “all about service” as he signed a condolence book, saying his heart went out to the royal family.
“Queen Elizabeth lived her life for the people,” Jill Biden wrote in a book for spouses and ambassadors. “He served with wisdom and grace. We will never forget his warmth, kindness and communication.
As the dignitaries entered, the clock was ticking for those seeking a place in the longest queue many have seen pass the Queen’s casket. The mile-long queue is expected to be closed to new arrivals after Sunday so everyone in line can see the coffin before Monday morning, when it will be taken to Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s funeral. .
Depending on the family, thousands of people lined up around the clock, braving freezing temperatures overnight and waiting for up to 17 hours in lines more than five miles (eight kilometers) long.
Lauren Wilson, a 36-year-old student, was in the very short queue for people with mobility issues. She said she wanted to personally experience the casket lying in state.
“The world is in a strange place and then this happened. It feels more important,” he said.
He feared that the pageantry surrounding Elizabeth’s death would deprive the Queen’s relatives of the ability to cope with their loss.
“The family is not allowed to grieve. I find it quite heartbreaking,” she said.
The Queen’s eight grandchildren, led by Prince William, the heir to the throne, surrounded the coffin and stood with their heads bowed during a silent vigil on Saturday evening.
Among the foreign leaders in London was New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who told the BBC she was humbled to represent her nation at the funeral and witness the national grief and respect for the late queen. .
“What I will take away from this period is just the beauty of the public response, the kindness you see from members of the public, the patience, the friendship. It is, for me, the most moving tribute to the British people. There has been a public response,” he said.
People across Britain will also hold a minute’s silence on Sunday evening to remember the nation’s queen, who died on September 8 aged 96 after 70 years on the throne. Monday has been declared a public holiday, and the funeral will be broadcast to a large television audience around the world and shown to crowds in parks and public spaces across the country.
Police officers from across the country will be on duty as part of the biggest one-day policing operation in London’s history.
Crowds also gathered near Windsor Castle on Sunday, where the Queen will be laid to rest in a private family ceremony on Monday evening.
Steve Besson brought his family of three and a bouquet of flowers he had bought for the Queen.
“She has been holding the reins of the country through all these difficult times, we can come and say ‘thank you’,” he said.
Camilla, the Queen’s consort, paid tribute to her mother-in-law in a video message, saying the monarch had “played her part” as a “lone woman” in a male-dominated world.
“I will always remember her smile. That smile is unforgettable,” said Camilla, who is married to Charles.
Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska was among those paying their respects at the Queen’s casket. British royal officials said Zelenska met with Catherine, Princess of Wales, at Buckingham Palace on Sunday afternoon. He did not release further details. The British government has been one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters since Russia invaded in February.
On Saturday night, it was time for the grandkids to mourn. William and Prince Harry, son of Charles, were joined by Princess Anne’s children, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips. Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie; and Prince Edward’s two children – Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
William stood at the head of the coffin with his head bowed and Harry at his feet. Both princes, who are military veterans, were in uniform. The crowd slowly filed past in silence.
“You could see he was thinking hard about his grandmother, the Queen,” said Ian Mockett, a civil engineer from Oxford in southern England. “It’s nice to see them all as a set of grandchildren, seeing what’s happened in the last few years.”
The state of repose continued until Monday morning, when the Queen’s coffin will be taken to nearby Westminster Abbey for the funeral on a gun carriage pulled by 142 Royal Navy sailors, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. The 10-day national mourning will come to an end. King
Following Monday’s service at the Abbey, the late Queen’s coffin will be carried through the historic heart of London on an official gun carriage. It will then be flown to Windsor, where the Queen will be buried alongside her late husband Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99.
Smita Tanda lays bright red roses as a huge floral tribute near Windsor Castle.
“I’m very proud to be a Windsor native,” she said. “I just wanted to honor myself.”