Crowds flock to London to see the Queen’s coffin procession
LONDON (AP) — The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II will leave Buckingham Palace for the last time on Wednesday as it is carried amid somber pageantry on a horse-drawn carriage past crowds of mourners until ‘to the Houses of Parliament, where the late monarch will rest in state for four days.
Crowds began to gather early along the flag-lined route outside the palace for the procession from the monarch’s official residence in London to the historic Westminster Hall in Parliament. King Charles III and other members of the royal family will walk behind the coffin.
Thousands of people gather on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace and along the banks of the River Thames hours before the coffin procession begins. People in the crowd cheered as Charles waved at them as he drove from his residence, Clarence House, to the palace.
Joan Bucklehurst, a 50-year-old shop assistant from Cheshire in north-west England, said the Queen “means so much to everyone”.
“She was amazing, yeah,” she added, choking with emotion. “So we had to be here. We have been here several times on special occasions, but this one I couldn’t miss.”
The crowds are the latest in a nationwide outpouring of grief and respect for the only monarch most Britons have ever known, who died at his beloved summer retreat at Balmoral on Thursday aged 96 , ending a 70-year reign.
“It’s a very sad day, but it’s our last chance to do our duty for the Queen and it’s our first chance to do it for the King, and it makes us all very proud,” the Major said. -General Christopher Ghika, of the Household Division, responsible for organizing the ceremonial aspects of the Queen’s funeral.
Heathrow Airport in London said it was adjusting its schedules to avoid overhead jets disrupting the motorcade. British Airways canceled 16 flights following the changes.
The airport said in a statement that the changes would “ensure silence over central London as the ceremonial procession moves from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall”.
The troops involved in the procession have been preparing since the Queen’s death. The same goes for the horses of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
sergeant. Tom Jenks, of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, said the horses had undergone special training, including how to handle crying mourners, as well as having flowers and flags thrown into the streets as the procession passes.
People stood behind metal barriers or sat on folding chairs, umbrellas ready, coffees to go in hand under gray skies hours before the coffin left the historic palace at 2:22 p.m. (1322 GMT).
Crowds lined the route of the Queen’s coffin each time it was moved on its long journey from Scotland to London.
On Tuesday evening, thousands braved a typical London drizzle as the state hearse, with interior lights illuminating the Sovereign’s flag-draped coffin, drove slowly from a military airbase into the heart of London.
Geoff Colgan, a taxi driver who took the day off to witness the moment, stood stunned in the moments after the Queen’s coffin passed.
“It’s one of those things that you know would happen, but when it happens you can’t believe it,” he said as he held his toddler in his arms.
Earlier in Edinburgh, some 33,000 people filed in silence past his coffin as he lay for 24 hours at St. Giles Cathedral.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to do the same in London when the Queen will reside in the 900-year-old Westminster Hall, Parliament’s oldest building, for four days before her state funeral on Monday.
The hall is where Guy Fawkes and Charles I were judged, where kings and queens held magnificent medieval banquets, and where ceremonial speeches were given to Queen Elizabeth II during her Silver Jubilees, of gold and diamonds.
Chris Bond, from Truro in south-west England, was among those queuing along the banks of the River Thames. He also attended the Queen’s Mother’s Laying in State in 2002.
“Obviously it’s quite difficult to queue all day, but when you walk through those doors into Westminster Hall, this wonderful historic building, there was a great sense of silence and you were told you were taking as many time as you want, and it’s just amazing,” he said.
“We know the Queen was of a good age and served the country for a long time, but we hoped that day would never come,” he added.
Chris Imafidon, got the sixth place in the queue.
“I have 1,001 emotions when I see her,” he said. “I mean, God, she was an angel, because she touched a lot of good people and did so many good things.”
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