Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward, all in military uniform, watched for a quarter of an hour on Friday over the coffin of their mother Elizabeth II in the oldest room of Westminster Hall, without interrupting the presentation of the remains to the public. The interminable queue to collect has continued to grow with more than 24 hours of waiting.
Patience at Westminster Hall. While many anonymous people braved a very long wait to greet their beloved queen before her funeral, the four children of Elizabeth II, including King Charles III, watched Friday, September 16, near her coffin in London.
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 at her estate in Balmoral, Scotland, on September 8.
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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.
« 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.
As earlier in the day, the authorities once again temporarily suspended access to the long queue that winds for miles in the capital on Friday evening. It will reopen at noon on Saturday.
Tribute to 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.
« 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.
The funeral vigil of the princes came to close for the sovereign a day rich in emotion, during which he was applauded in Cardiff during the last leg of his tour of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland North 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.
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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 delivered partly in Welsh to Parliament, to follow the « example » of his mother.
« 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 the passing 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 garnered almost 30,000 signatures.
Back in London, Charles III, head of the Anglican Church, had received the country’s religious leaders at Buckingham Palace, pledging to defend all faiths.
Some 2,000 guests expected
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 a.m. 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.
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 London police” have had to oversee, said Deputy Deputy Commissioner Stuart Cundy, 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.
« (The King) is just a person, (he’s) not really important to me »
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 desire 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.
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, save 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.