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London falls silent as the world says final farewell to Queen Elizabeth

The doors to Westminster Hall have been closed to mourners, ending Queen Elizabeth II’s Laying In State: the final path to her funeral has begun.

 

September 19, 2022
By Mike Corder, Jill Lawless and Sylvia Hui
19 September 2022

The doors to Westminster Hall have been closed to mourners as Britain and the world prepares to lay Queen Elizabeth II to rest. Soon the doors to nearby Westminster Abbey will open to allow guests to enter for her funeral.

Her state funeral has drawn presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers as well as up to a million people lining the streets of London to say a final goodbye to a monarch whose 70-year reign defined an age.

A day packed with funeral events in London and Windsor began early when the doors of 900-year-old Westminster Hall were closed to mourners at 6.30am after hundreds of thousands filed in front of her coffin since 14 September.

Royal farewell
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 19: King Charles III takes part in the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey on September 19, 2022 in London, England. Members of the public are able to pay respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for 23 hours a day from 17:00 on September 18, 2022 until 06:30 on September 19, 2022. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III. (Photo by James Manning- WPA Pool/Getty Images)
An empty Westminster Hall at 6.31am today after the final members of the public paid their respects at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II. (Yui Mok/Pool via Reuters)

Many of them had spent cold nights to pay their respects at the foot of the queen’s flag-draped coffin in a moving outpouring of national grief.

The closing of the hall marked the end of four full days of the coffin lying in state and the start of the UKs first state funeral since the one held in 1965 for Winston Churchill, the first of 15 prime ministers during Elizabeth’s reign.

Two days before her 8 September death at her Balmoral summer retreat, the queen appointed her last prime minister, Liz Truss.

Among the last mourners to join the line to see the coffin was Tracy Dobson from Hertfordshire, just north of London.

People wait in line to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in London on Sunday. (Andreea Alexandru/AP)

“I felt like I had to come and pay my final respects to our majestic queen, she has done so much for us and just a little thank you really from the people,” she said.

Monday has been declared a public holiday in honor of the Queen, who died on 8 September at 96. Her funeral is being broadcast live to more than 200 countries and territories worldwide and screened to crowds in parks and public spaces across the country.

Police officers from around the country are on duty as part of the biggest one-day policing operation in London’s history.

For the funeral, Elizabeth’s coffin will be taken from Westminster Hall, across the road to Westminster Abbey, on a royal gun carriage drawn by 142 Royal Navy sailors. The same carriage was used to carry the coffins of late kings Edward VII, George V, and George VI and of Churchill.

The service will end with two minutes of silence followed by the national anthem and a piper’s lament, before the queen’s coffin is taken in a procession ringed by units of the armed forces in dress uniforms, with her children walking behind, to Wellington Arch near Buckingham Palace.

There, it will be placed in a hearse to be driven to Windsor for another procession along the Long Walk, a three-mile (five-kilometer) avenue leading to the town’s castle before a committal service in St. George’s Chapel. She will then be laid to rest with her late husband, Prince Philip, at a private family service.

People camp out on The Mall on the eve of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

Central London was already packed before dawn on Monday with people seeking out a prime viewing spot and authorities warned that it would be extremely busy.

US President Joe Biden was among world leaders to pay their respects at the coffin on Sunday as thousands of police, hundreds of British troops and an army of officials made final preparations for the funeral – a spectacular display of national mourning that will also be the biggest gathering of world leaders for years.

People across Britain had paused for a minute of silence at 8pm on Sunday in memory of the only monarch most have ever known.

At Westminster Hall, the constant stream of mourners paused for 60 seconds as people observed the minute of reflection in deep silence.

In Windsor, rain began to fall as the crowd fell silent for the moment of reflection. Some had set up small camps and chairs outside Windsor Castle, with plans to spend the night there to reserve the best spots to view the queen’s coffin when it arrives.

People make their way along the Long Walk towards Cambridge gate outside Windsor Castle to lay flowers for the late Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor on Sunday. (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

“Well, it’s just one night and day of our lives. Elizabeth gave us – you know – 70 years. So the rest of it is not a lot to ask, is it?” said Fred Sweeney, 52, who kitted out his spot with two Union flags on large flag poles.

Biden called Queen Elizabeth II “decent” and “honorable” and “all about service” as he signed the condolence book, saying his heart went out to the royal family.

One no-show for Monday’s funeral will be Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose invitation drew criticism from human rights groups because of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Saudi Arabia is expected to be represented by another royal, Prince Turki bin Mohammed.

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