London filled with mourners ahead of state funeral
Tens of thousands of mourners have thronged to the capital to say goodbye to their Queen on the day she is laid to rest following 70 years as monarch.
King Charles III is leading the nation in paying its last respects to his mother, who fulfilled her pledge, made as a young woman, to devote her life to the service of others when she became head of state.
Her great-grandchildren, future king Prince George and his sister Princess Charlotte, will join their parents at the state funeral where world leaders and national figures from UK life will gather.
After four days of lying in state beneath the symbols of the monarchy – the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre – the Queen will be carried from Westminster Hall where a continuous stream of public have flowed past her coffin after waiting many hours.
Soldiers of the Queen’s Company from the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards have been given the honour of acting as the coffin’s bearer party because of their unique association with the monarch.
The late Queen’s connection with the Guardsmen was not ceremonial, she was their Company Commander, and although a senior officer took day-to-day control, the former sovereign’s connection with her men was strong.
Charles has led the royal family in their public grief and arrived at Westminster Hall with his sons the Prince of Wales and Duke of Sussex to take part in the procession that will accompany the coffin when it is taken to Westminster Abbey for the state funeral.
The late monarch’s coffin will be placed onto a 123-year-old gun carriage towed by 98 Royal Navy sailors in a tradition dating back to the funeral of Queen Victoria, while 40 sailors will march behind to act as a brake.
Charles will be joined as he walks behind the coffin by his siblings – the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex.
Behind the King will be the Queen’s grandsons in a line – Peter Phillips, Harry and William – and they in turn will be followed by the late monarch’s son-in-law Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s cousin, and her nephew the Earl of Snowdown.
More than 2,700 military personnel will be taking part in the procession or lining its short route from New Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster to the Abbey.
The Queen’s coffin will be flanked by a bearer party, escort party and pall bearers, with the procession featuring two marching detachments of the Household Cavalry in their breast plates and plumed helmets and a Household Division party.
Royal Marines and Royal Navy sailors will line the route and the muffled boom of minute guns will be fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Hyde Park.
A tri-service guard of honour founded by the Royal Navy, Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards and the King’s RAF’s Colour Squadron are formed up along the route and joined by the Band of the Royal Marines.
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