search

King Charles thanks public, as UK holds minute of silence ahead of Queen’s funeral

New monarch says he’s ‘moved beyond measure’ at public sympathies for Elizabeth II; world leaders pay respects to queen’s casket as it lies in state; queue closed to new entrants

Britain's King Charles III waves as he leaves after a visit to the Metropolitan Police Service Special Operations Room (SOR) to thank Emergency Service workers for their work and support, ahead of the funeral of late Queen Elizabeth II, at the Lambeth headquarters in London, September 17, 2022. (Carl de Souza/Pool via AP)
Britain's King Charles III waves as he leaves after a visit to the Metropolitan Police Service Special Operations Room (SOR) to thank Emergency Service workers for their work and support, ahead of the funeral of late Queen Elizabeth II, at the Lambeth headquarters in London, September 17, 2022. (Carl de Souza/Pool via AP)

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain’s King Charles III said Sunday he had been “moved beyond measure” by the outpouring of public sympathy following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in a message of thanks on the eve of her grand state funeral.

King Charles said that he and his wife Queen Consort Camilla had been “so deeply touched” by messages of condolence and support from Britain and around the world.

Britain held a minute’s silence on Sunday in a tribute to Queen Elizabeth before Monday’s farewell.

“We were moved beyond measure by everyone who took the trouble to come and pay their respects to the lifelong service of my dear mother, The late Queen,” he said in a statement. “As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my family and myself in this time of grief.”

Queen Elizabeth’s coffin has been lying in state on a catafalque in London’s historic Westminster Hall since Wednesday evening.

US President Joe Biden and Japan’s Emperor Naruhito were among the stream of dignitaries who paid tribute at the late monarch’s casket, Biden crossing himself and touching his heart as he stood on a gallery in the medieval hall.

Others who paid their last respects included Israeli President Isaac Herzog, French President Emmanuel Macron, King Harald V of Norway, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Letsie III of Lesotho and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg.

Members of the public observe a national moment of reflection in Westminster Hall to show their respect to the late Queen Elizabeth II at her coffin as it lies in state, at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 18, 2022. (SARAH MEYSSONNIER/POOL/AFP)

Final queue to see coffin

The last of the estimated hundreds of thousands of public mourners who have flocked to see the queen’s coffin queued along the banks of the River Thames into Monday morning.

The queue to attend the lying-in-state “is at final capacity and is now closed to new entrants,” the Culture Ministry said late Sunday on its live queue tracker on YouTube.

“Please do not attempt to join the queue,” it added.

Waiting times peaked at more than 25 hours early Saturday.

The public viewing will end at 6:30 a.m. (0530 GMT). Troops have kept a round-the-clock vigil.

Queen Elizabeth reigned for a record-breaking 70 years until her death on September 8, aged 96.

She was on the throne since 1952 and was the only sovereign most Britons alive today have ever known.

Andy Sanderson, 46, a supermarket area manager, was among those who had finally made it to parliament after braving the miles of queues.

“She was the glue that kept the country together,” he said.

Members of the public observe a national moment of reflection in Westminster Hall to show their respect to the late Queen Elizabeth II at her coffin as it lies in state, at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 18, 2022. (SARAH MEYSSONNIER/POOL/AFP)

‘All about service’

Biden said Queen Elizabeth was “decent, honorable, and all about service.”

“All the people of the United Kingdom: our hearts go out to you, and you were fortunate to have had her for 70 years; we all were. The world is better for her,” Biden said after signing a book of condolence.

The US president then attended a reception hosted by King Charles and the royal family for around 500 visiting dignitaries.

They included Emperor Naruhito, King Felipe VI of Spain, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Queen Margrethe.

The minute of silence was held at 8:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) to honor the late queen’s life of service.

Prime Minister Liz Truss stood in a black dress outside her 10 Downing Street official residence for the “national moment of reflection” before the eyes of world focus on the British capital for the queen’s send-off.

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss (right) stands on the steps of 10 Downing Street joining in a national moment of reflection to show her respect to the late Queen Elizabeth II, in London on September 18, 2022, (Odd ANDERSEN/AFP)

Members of the public have camped out in advance to catch a glimpse of the grand farewell at Westminster Abbey, which is expected to bring London to a standstill and be watched by billions of viewers across the globe.

E. J. Kelly, a 46-year-old schoolteacher from Northern Ireland, secured a prime spot with friends on the route the procession will take after the funeral.

“Watching it on television is wonderful but being here is something else,” she told AFP, equipped with camping chairs, warm clothing and extra socks. “I will probably feel very emotional when it comes to it, but I wanted to be here to pay my respects.”

Crowds also thronged around Windsor Castle, west of London, where the queen’s coffin will be driven after the service for a private burial alongside her late husband Prince Philip, her parents and her sister.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never seen it this busy,” said Donna Lumbard, 32, a manager at a local restaurant.

‘Reassuring presence’

Australia’s anti-monarchy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who viewed the lying-in-state and met King Charles on Saturday, told Sky News Australia that the queen was “a constant reassuring presence.”

There was also a private audience at Buckingham Palace for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose country — like Australia, Britain and 12 other Commonwealth realms — now has King Charles as its sovereign.

Britain’s King Charles III meets members of the public in the queue along the South Bank, near to Lambeth Bridge as they wait to view Queen Elizabeth II lying in state ahead of her funeral on Monday, in London, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (Aaron Chown/Pool Photo via AP)

But in an indication of the challenges ahead for the new king, Ardern told BBC television that she expected New Zealand to shed its constitutional monarchy “over the course of my lifetime.”

Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral, the first in Britain since the death of her first prime minister Winston Churchill in 1965, will take place Monday at Westminster Abbey at 11:00 a.m.

Reflecting on the queen’s wishes for the hour-long ceremony, the former archbishop of York, John Sentamu, told BBC television she “did not want what you call long, boring services.”

Leaders from Russia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria and North Korea were not invited to join the 2,000 guests.

As their private grief has played out in the glare of global attention, a fresh opinion poll from YouGov showed the royal family’s popularity has risen in the UK.

William and his wife Kate topped the ranking of most popular royals, while Charles saw his approval ratings rise 16 points since May.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed