By MIKE CORDER, JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA
LONDON (AP) — Thousands of police, hundreds of British troops and an army of officials made final preparations Sunday for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II — a spectacular display of national mourning that will also be the biggest gathering of world leaders for years.
U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden were among thousands of mourners — from locals and tourists to world leaders — to pay their respects at Westminster Hall, where the queen is lying in state. The president made the sign of the cross and put his hand to his heart as he stood quietly near the casket in the ornate 900-year-old hall.
Biden was also expected to sign the official condolence book and attend a reception Sunday at Buckingham Palace hosted by King Charles III before going to the state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday. He is one of 500 world leaders and royals invited to the funeral, along with hundreds of British charity workers.
As the dignitaries poured in, the clock was ticking down for those seeking a place in the longest queue many have ever seen to file past the queen’s coffin as it lies in state at Westminster Hall. The miles-long queue is expected to be closed to new arrivals later Sunday so that everyone in line can view the coffin before Monday morning, when it will be taken to Westminster Abbey for the queen’s funeral.
Family by family, thousands of people kept lining up around the clock, braving chilly overnight temperatures and waits of up to 17 hours in a queue that stretched for over 5 miles (8 kilometers).
Lauren Wilson, a 36-year-old student, was in the much shorter queue for people with mobility issues. She said she wanted to experience in person the coffin lying in state.
“The world is in such a weird place and then this happened. It feels more momentous,” she said.
She worried that the pageantry surrounding Elizabeth’s death deprives the queen’s relatives of the ability to come to terms with their loss.
“The family are not allowed to grieve. I find it quite heartbreaking,” she said.
The queen’s eight grandchildren, led by heir to the throne Prince William, circled 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 …read more
Source:: The Mercury News