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Death of Elizabeth II: Under emotional cheers, the remains of the Queen arrived at Buckingham Palace for a final night

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  • Reading time:5 mins read

To the cheers and applause of her loyal subjects, the remains of Queen Elizabeth II passed through the gates of her London Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening to spend one last night there, before five days of public homage to Westminster.

She was welcomed there by her son Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla, who had returned from a brief official visit to Northern Ireland, and other members of the royal family. His return to the capital is preparing for his funeral, which will take place on Monday at Westminster Abbey.

Outside the palace, a huge crowd greeted the arrival of the woman who reigned over the country for 70 years, with cheers and loud applause, lighting up the stage with their mobile phones despite the capricious weather.

The Queen’s coffin, covered with the yellow, red and blue royal standard of the United Kingdom and a wreath of white flowers, was unloaded, by the famous grenadiers, from the hearse which had transported it from the airport of the Royal Air Force, where he had landed an hour earlier.

On his way, hundreds of motorists got out of their cars to make him a guard of honor, not hesitating to cross the central reservation after having stopped their vehicle on the part in the opposite direction of the highway.

“I just want to see the coffin”, explained before the arrival of the coffin to AFP Joseph Afrane, a 59-year-old Briton who had been camping in front of Buckingham since Sunday.

The body of Elizabeth II will spend its last night at the palace, where it has so often resided, on Tuesday, in the Bow Room, a circular room with marble columns framing each of the windows. Palace staff can bid him farewell in private.

On Wednesday, the coffin of the Queen who died Thursday at 96 will leave its official home in the British capital on a gun carriage, crossing central London to reach the Palace of Westminster in a grand procession, where it will be displayed for five days at Westminster Hall.

“Monster Wait”

Thousands of people are expected for the procession through the center of the British capital, which will be greeted by the bell of Big Ben and cannon shots in Hyde Park.

They will be even more numerous to try to pay between Wednesday and Monday morning a last tribute in Westminster Hall to the sovereign.

The press evokes up to 750,000 people over more than 10 kilometers. In Edinburgh, 33,000 people had already followed one another to say goodbye to him at Saint-Gilles Cathedral.

“We expect a monster queue tomorrow morning”, told AFP Rumesh, a security guard positioned near the Palace of Westminster. “It’s the calm before the storm!” “I’ve never seen anything like it (…) we feel that it’s happening, and that it’s going to be huge”.

On Tuesday morning, a handful of die-hards, surrounded by dozens of journalists, were already braving the capricious weather to wait on the other side of the Thames, long before the official opening of Westminster Hall to the crowd, Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. GMT.

Northern Irish test

The Queen’s state funeral will take place on Monday attended by some 500 foreign dignitaries and many crowned heads, but not the leaders of Russia, Belarus or Burma.

The event, a security challenge of unparalleled magnitude, promises to be grandiose, for the last farewells of a people who, for the most part, have known no sovereign but Elizabeth II since their birth.

Popular figure, rock of stability in the sometimes political, social or health storm during the Covid-19, the queen was a reassuring image for millions of Britons. A heavy legacy to bear for his son Charles III.

Tensions in Northern Ireland, separatist desires in Scotland, galloping inflation: the new 73-year-old king, older than all the British sovereigns on their accession to the throne, takes office at a critical moment. The country, in the grip of a serious social and political crisis, has had a new Prime Minister for a few days.

On Tuesday, he already passed a delicate stage of his accession to the throne without a hitch, during his first visit as sovereign to Northern Ireland, plagued since Brexit by community tensions inherited from the bloody past of the “Troubles”.

“With a shining example before me, and with God’s help, I take up my new duties determined to seek the well-being of all the people of Northern Ireland”declared the monarch in the local Parliament, at a standstill since the victory in the last elections of the republicans of Sinn Fein, who do not recognize the authority of the monarchy.