King Charles III leads a procession of his mother Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin through London on Wednesday, before hundreds of thousands of people pay their last respects.
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The body of Queen Elizabeth, who died last week, will be kept on a mounted gun carriage from her Buckingham Palace home to Westminster Hall. It will remain there till his funeral on Monday.
All the brothers and sisters of the queen will participate in the procession of the coffin. Big Ben tolls and artillery guns will salute in Hyde Park.
King Charles and other royals are expected to follow a chariot in silence as they pass through the streets of London. He would then oversee his arrival at the 12th Century Hall in the Westminster Parliament complex.
People will be allowed to enter the hall to pay their last respects. The queues can be up to 8 km long. “It is our duty to say thank you,” said Vanessa Nanthakumaran, 56, originally from Sri Lanka.
Strict rules and airport-like security arrangements have been put in place. The government has advised people to wear “appropriate clothing” and bring portable battery packs to keep mobile phones charged.
Hotel rooms in London are hard to find, with even budget rooms going for £300 per night. There is pressure on the transport authorities and the police to keep the city moving and safe.
British police also faced criticism from civil liberties groups for their treatment of anti-monarchical protesters who publicly challenged Charles’s ascension to the throne.
The Queen’s funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey in front of 2,000 VIP guests on the day it was declared a public holiday in Britain.
Hundreds of heads of state and government as well as global royalty are expected, but Russia, Belarus, Myanmar and North Korea have not been invited to send delegates.
US President Joe Biden has confirmed he will attend, as will French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.