Elizabeth II: funeral wake for her children, long wait to gather

The four children of Elizabeth II, including King Charles III, watched over her coffin in London on Friday evening, surrounded by many anonymous people who braved a very long wait to greet their beloved queen before her funeral.

Placed around it, turning their backs head down, Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward watched for ten minutes over the coffin draped with the royal standard and adorned with the imperial crown, placed on an imposing catafalque in the oldest room of the British Parliament, Westminster Hall.

They had already done the same on Monday in Edinburgh, where the remains of the sovereign had arrived after her death in her domain of Balmoral, in Scotland, on September 8.

For the occasion, Andrew, deprived of military titles following a sex scandal, was authorized to wear the uniform, like his siblings.

During this solemn “vigil of the princes”, a tradition dating back to the death of King George V in 1936, the crowd was able to continue to parade in front of the coffin, as it has done in a continuous flow since Wednesday afternoon.

Proof of the immense emotion aroused by the death of Queen Elizabeth, unanimously hailed for her devotion to the Crown, the interminable line to collect has continued to lengthen Friday, exceeding at one point more than 24 hours of ‘waiting. Authorities have warned of “cold” nighttime temperatures.

“My ankles are hurting horribly, but it’s a small sacrifice to make,” 70-year-old Peter Stratford told AFP, resting briefly after waiting eight hours.

“I would not have wanted to miss it,” added this former firefighter who intervened during a major fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, where Elizabeth II will be buried on Monday.

David Beckham

Like thousands of people, former football star David Beckham had waited patiently for more than 12 hours since 2 a.m., dressed in dark clothes. In front of the remains, he soberly bowed his head and wiped away a tear.

POOL/AFP

King Charles III meets the crowd in Cardiff, Wales, September 16, 2022

“It is very moving, and the silence and the atmosphere in the room are very difficult to explain, but we are all here to say thank you to Her Majesty for being so kind, caring, comforting through the years”, he said when he left, stormed by journalists.

“She was our queen and the legacy she leaves is incredible,” he added.

In the evening, disturbing the solemnity of the place, a man was arrested around 10:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. GMT) following “trouble”, said the London police in a press release.

The funeral wake of the princes came to close for Charles III a day rich in emotion, during which the new sovereign was applauded in Cardiff during the last leg of his tour of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland , Northern Ireland and Wales).

“Long Live the King!” (“Long live the king!”): For about twenty minutes, the 73-year-old former Prince of Wales enjoyed a walkabout, shaking many hands.

He left with Queen Consort Camilla to the sound of the hymn ‘God Save the King’ sung by the public, after attending a church service and renewing his promise, in a speech partly in Welsh to Parliament, to follow the “example” of his mother.

AFP

Former football player David Beckham leaves Westminter after bidding farewell to Queen Elizabeth II in London on September 16, 2022

“It was very moving to see someone so special for the country,” Ffion Driscoll, 14, told AFP, weeping with his mother.

But while the king was cheered on by conquered Welsh, a handful of anti-monarchists carrying placards “abolish the monarchy” or “Democracy now” were gathered outside the castle.

A petition protesting against the transmission of the title of Prince of Wales – for some a symbol of English oppression – to the new heir to the throne William rather than to a Welshman has collected nearly 30,000 signatures.

Back in London, Charles III, head of the Anglican Church, had received religious leaders from the country at Buckingham Palace, pledging to defend all faiths.

2,000 guests

The public will be able to parade until early morning Monday in front of the coffin of Elizabeth II, before the state funeral at 10:00 GMT, the first of its kind since that of Winston Churchill in 1965.

Then, a procession will accompany the coffin to Westminster Abbey where the funeral will be held.

Millions of people are expected to follow the event in front of their televisions on this public holiday in the United Kingdom.

AFP

The first tour of Charles III

Some 2,000 guests, including several hundred leaders from around the world, crowned heads, but also anonymous people decorated for their associative commitment, will attend the ceremony.

Joe Biden, Ursula von der Leyen, the Emperor of Japan, or even Emmanuel Macron are expected, while the Pope will be represented. The leaders of Russia, Afghanistan, Burma, Syria and North Korea were not invited.

The event represents an unprecedented security challenge for the United Kingdom, which has deployed an impressive system in the capital, with numerous reinforcements from all over the country.

“It will be the biggest event that the London police” have had to manage, Assistant Deputy Commissioner Stuart Cundy said on Friday, even bigger than the 2012 Olympics.

A few hours earlier, the attack on two police officers, stabbed in central London, which is not considered a terrorist act by the authorities, raised the tension a notch.

Independence

Many challenges await Charles III, often described as a transitional king preceding his son, the popular William, but also as a modernizer anxious to reduce the wings of the monarchy.

Between Scotland’s quest for independence, tensions in Northern Ireland, the economic and social crisis in the country, but also the republican temptations emerging in some of its 14 other kingdoms, he will have a lot to do to embody the national unity.

AFP

Thousands of Britons line up near the Tower of London to bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on September 16, 2022

Thus, a few meters from the entrance to Cardiff Castle, Zahra Ameri, 22, who works in a tea shop, says she is already tired by all the agitation surrounding the king. “I hope Wales will become independent,” she told AFP. “(The king) is just a person, (he’s) not really important to me”.

Charles III’s first steps were deemed rather dignified, except for a few public gestures of annoyance much commented on the internet, with many waiting to see how he will don the costume of his immensely respected mother, and how he will handle crises. family.

Elizabeth II: funeral wake for her children, long wait to gather