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Crowds gather in London as queen's coffin to go on display

Members of the public have been paying their respects to the late monarch since 5pm this evening.

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II being transported on a horse-drawn gun carriage from Buckingham Palace today.
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II being transported on a horse-drawn gun carriage from Buckingham Palace today.
Image: Ian West/PA

Updated Sep 14th 2022, 9:01 PM

MOURNERS HAVE BEGUN saying their goodbyes to Queen Elizabeth II during her lying in state at Westminster Hall in London.

Members of the public have been paying their respects to the late monarch since 5pm this evening after her coffin was taken to the hall from Buckingham Palace.

Thousands from across the UK and the world queued up for hours to see the coffin, some arriving as early as Monday to get in line on Albert Embankment.

Earlier today, King Charles III has led a procession of the coffin of his mother Queen Elizabeth II through London to Westminster Hall where she will remain for four days until her funeral next Monday.

The king and other senior royals walked in silence behind the hearse and then held a vigil upon at the cavernous 12th-century hall in the Westminster parliament complex.

The coffin was draped with a Royal Standard (a flag used by the royal family) and adorned with the Imperial State Crown (one of the UK’s crown jewels).

queen-elizabeth-ii-death People queue to view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II lying in state ahead of her funeral on Monday. Source: PA

Strict rules and airport-style security measures have been put in place, with “far more” people expected than the 200,000 who filed past the coffin of the queen’s mother when she died in 2002, according to British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s spokesman.

The government has advised people to wear “suitable clothing” and to bring portable battery packs to keep their mobile phones charged – an indication that some people will need to wait overnight for a glimpse of the casket.

Hotel rooms in the capital are increasingly hard to find, with even budget rooms going for £300 (€346) per night, while transport bosses and police are under pressure to keep the city moving and safe in exceptional circumstances.

“It’s a massive challenge for the Metropolitan Police and for me personally, but we have been preparing for many, many years,” the newly appointed head of the London police force, Mark Rowley, told Sky News.

UK tour

The body of the late 96-year-old monarch, who died “peacefully” at her Balmoral estate in Scotland last Thursday, was flown to London aboard an RAF plane yesterday evening from the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

It was then driven to Buckingham Palace, with images of her coffin arriving for one last night at home splashed across today’s newspapers.

“Welcome Home Ma’am,” read the headline of The Sun, while the Times ran with the headline “Home to Rest” and the Daily Mail “Home to her Family”.

The procession today mirrored a similar ceremony in Edinburgh on Monday when her casket was driven through the hushed streets of the city to St Giles’ Cathedral.

There, some 33,000 people filed past the coffin overnight yesterday afternoon, the Scottish government said.

“Scotland has now bid our Queen of Scots a sad, but fond farewell. We will not see her like again,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

After Scotland and England, Charles continued his tour of the four nations of the United Kingdom yesterday by visiting Northern Ireland for the first time as king.

A trip to Wales is expected on Friday.

queen-elizabeth-ii-death King Charles III and Michael D Higgins in St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast yesterday. Source: PA

Big Ben

The procession of the queen’s coffin began at precisely 2:22pm and was attended by all of the queen’s children.

Big Ben tolled and artillery guns fired salutes in Hyde Park.

The ceremony was also another prominent role for the queen’s scandal-hit son Andrew, who settled a case in the US earlier this year in which he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old.

Over the last week, he has made what is expected to be a brief return to the public eye during national mourning.

Not everyone shares the public mood of sadness and remembrance sparked by the queen’s death, with royal fatigue increasingly evident on social media in the face of blanket media coverage.

British police have also faced criticism from civil liberties groups over their treatment of anti-monarchy protesters who have publicly challenged Charles’ accession to the throne.

Video footage and witnesses have drawn attention to police arresting or intimidating people who shouted slogans against the monarchy or held up placards reading “Not My King”.

The queen’s funeral will take place in Westminster Abbey in front of 2,000 VIP guests, with the day 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 representatives.

US President Joe Biden has confirmed he will attend, as will French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

© – AFP, 2022 additional reporting from Press Association

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