Queen Elizabeth’s coffin will leave Buckingham Palace for the last time on Wednesday as it is ushered into the midst of a somber showdown in a horse-drawn carriage through a crowd of mourners to the Houses of Parliament, where the late monarch will take the throne. in four days.
Crowds began gathering early along the flag-lined shopping arcade outside the palace for the procession from the monarch’s official residence in London to the historic Westminster Hall at Parliament.
They are the latest expression of a nationwide wave of grief and respect for the only monarch most Britons have ever known, who passed away at her beloved Balmoral summer retreat on Thursday in London. 96 years old, the end of 70 years of reign.
People stand behind metal fences or sit on deck chairs, umbrellas prepared, takeaway coffee in hand under a gray sky a few hours before the coffin is scheduled to leave the palace at 9:22 morning ET.
Once there, the coffin will be placed on the gun carriage of the King’s Royal Artillery Army to be carried through central London to Westminster, a medieval building dating back to 1097 that is the oldest building in the world. within the congress.
King Charles will walk in silence behind the chariot with all the other senior royals, including siblings Anne, Andrew and Edward.
Also in the procession will be Charles’ two sons, William, 40, now the Prince of Wales, and Harry, 37, the Duke of Sussex.
VIEW | Many struggling Britons have little time to focus on ceremonies:
Thousands of people in Scotland are watching
Crowds have lined up along the route of the Queen’s coffin whenever it is moved on the long journey from Scotland back to London.
On Tuesday night, thousands defied the typical London drizzle as the state hearse, with lights inside illuminating the sovereign’s flag-clad coffin, drove slowly from an air base. military into central London.
VIEW | ‘Your heart starts pounding’: Emotions surge while watching Edinburgh:
Geoff Colgan, a taxi driver who had the day off to witness the moment, stood stunned moments after the Queen’s coffin passed.
“It’s one of those things you know is going to happen, but when it happens you just can’t believe it,” he said, hugging his toddler.
Earlier, in Edinburgh, some 33,000 people quietly paid their respects before her coffin as it lay for 24 hours at St. Giles.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to do the same in London as the Queen lays in state at Westminster Hall for four days ahead of her state funeral on Monday.
The hall was the site of the trials of Guy Fawkes and Charles I, where kings and queens held lavish medieval banquets, and where ceremonial speeches were presented to Queen Elizabeth II in honor with her silver, gold, and diamonds.
Chris Bond, from Truro in southwest England, was among those lining up along the banks of the Thames. He also attended the coronation ceremony of the Queen’s mother in 2002.
“Obviously, it’s pretty hard to line up all day long, but when you walk through those doors into Westminster Hall, that wonderful, historic building, you get a very uncomfortable feeling and people say you Take as long as you like, and that’s awesome,” he said.
“We know the Queen is at a good age and she has served her country for a long time, but we hope this day never comes.”