Des personnes souhaitant se recueillir devant le cercueil de la reine Elizabeth II font la queue sur le Lambeth Bridge de Londres, le 14 septembre 2022.

Death of Elizabeth II: the British arm themselves with patience to greet their queen


People wishing to pay their respects in front of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II line up on Lambeth Bridge in London, September 14, 2022. (©AFP/Louisa Gouliamaki)

Food, water bottles and above all a very large dose of patience: dozens of thousands Britons are determined to gather at the coffin of their beloved Queen Elizabeth II in London on Thursday, ahead of a grand funeral on Monday.

The endless line stretching out several kilometers and could reach fifteen, from Westminster Hall to the south-east of the capital, on the other side of the Thames, is far from discouraging them.

“She gave us so much”

No more than the draconian security put in place to be able to parade briefly in front of the closed coffin of the 96-year-old sovereign, who died on September 8 and unanimously hailed for her total devotion to the Crown.

Last step before 10 day funeral of poignant national mourning, the remains have been open to the public since late Wednesday afternoon. She was then transferred in an emotionally charged solemn procession from Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Elizabeth II during her record-breaking 70-year reign.

In order not to lose your place in the queue, only a short pee break is possible in one of the 500 temporary toilets specially erected for the occasion. Hundreds of volunteers are expected to manage the crowd, as well as refreshments in businesses or institutions along the line, such as the National Theater.

Queue along the Thames to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II whose coffin is on display in Westminster Hall, London on September 14, 2022.
Queue along the Thames to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II whose coffin is on display in Westminster Hall, London on September 14, 2022. (©AFP/Louisa Gouliamaki)

“She gave so much to us and to the world. The least we can do is stand in line for a few hours to see her resting,” Adam Armendariz, a 35-year-old sales manager who came directly after his day’s work, told AFP. Although he only brought his laptop, he says he is ready to “wait as long as necessary”.

Royal standard and imperial crown

Arrival from Scotland where the sovereign died, the remains are presented on an imposing catafalque at Westminster Hall, the oldest room in the British parliament open 24 hours a day until Monday 06:30 a.m., the day of the final farewell with a national funeral. at Westminster Abbey, in the presence of hundreds of foreign dignitaries and crowned heads.

Placed on a gun carriage, covered with the royal standard and surmounted by the imperial crown Carried by Elizabeth II at her coronation in 1953, the oak coffin had been followed on foot by King Charles III, the monarch’s eldest son, and other prominent members of the royal family.

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, surmounted by the imperial crown, during the procession which led it to Westminster Hall in London on September 14, 2022.
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, surmounted by the imperial crown, during the procession which led it to Westminster Hall in London on September 14, 2022. (©POOL/AFP/Daniel LEAL)

Some members of the public had taken the lead, not hesitating to wait from the previous night in front of the parliament. Like Nina Kaistoffioson, a 40-year-old artist in “tears”, who came to say “thank you” to the queen for “her service to the nation”. She had passed two days of waiting in the rainbut had planned a change of clothes before entering the cathedral.

Just a small bag and a bottle of water

Because the authorities have warned “draconian restrictions”worthy of airports, and asked the public to “dress appropriately to pay homage” to the sovereign, omnipresent through several generations of Britons and a rock of stability in crises and change.

Inside Westminster Hall, the public may only bring a small bag, and no food or drink other than a clear, empty bottle of water is permitted.

Flowers and tributes at the foot of a tree in Green Park in London on September 15, 2022.
Flowers and tributes at the foot of a tree in Green Park in London on September 15, 2022. (©AFP/Paul ELLIS)

Monday, the crowd promises to be even more massive for funeral of the century, a huge security challenge for which London is feverishly preparing. Among the heads of state expected, US President Joe Biden on Wednesday expressed “the great admiration of the American people for the queen” and his “desire to pursue a close relationship” with King Charles III.

Holiday

For this historic event, a public holiday has been declared and many businesses, including almost all supermarkets, will keep the curtain down.

Before, the 73-year-old sovereign and the queen consort will travel to Wales on Friday, the last stop on their tour of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom after England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

King Charles III in Westminster Hall, in the Palace of Westminster where the coffin of Elizabeth II rests, in London, September 14, 2022.
King Charles III in Westminster Hall, in the Palace of Westminster where the coffin of Elizabeth II rests, in London, September 14, 2022. (©POOL/AFP/PHIL NOBLE)

Older that all British sovereigns upon their accession to the throne, he takes office at a difficult time for the UK which has just been given a new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, and plunged into a social and economic crisis . Long low, the popularity rating has skyrocketed since his accession to the throne.

Source : © 2022 AFP

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