The public flocks to the Queen’s coffin

A long wait for a kiss, a tear, a curtsy: the London public began to parade Wednesday in front of the coffin of Elizabeth II, for several days of final tributes to the sovereign where hundreds of thousands of people are expected before her funeral, scheduled for Monday.

After an emotional procession from Buckingham Palace, where she spent part of her childhood and was her official residence, the coffin of the Queen, who died last Thursday at 96, arrived at Westminster Hall early this afternoon.

The coffin, which sits on an imposing catafalque, will remain in Britain’s oldest parliamentary chamber, which will remain open without interruption until 6:30 a.m. local time on Monday, the day of the funeral at Westminster Abbey. People on both sides of the coffin are kissing and bowing to the Queen, their eyes often reddened by tears.

Sue Harvey, a 50-year-old accountant, describes an “incredibly moving” experience, “crying” but in “total silence.” “I wanted to make sure I saw her, no matter how long the line was,” she continues.

Nina Kaistoffioson, a 40-year-old artist who came to say “thank you” to the queen for “her service to the nation,” felt “at peace.” She waited in the rain for two days, but like many others, she had a change of clothes for the occasion.

Harry and William together

After leaving Buckingham Palace to Westminster, pulled by horses, the coffin of the sovereign was followed on foot by her four children: King Charles III, Princess Anne and their brothers Andrew and Edward. Following, side by side, were Prince William and Prince Harry, Charles’ two sons, who have a difficult relationship and who were together for the second time since the death of their grandmother.

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Topped by the imperial crown on a purple velvet cushion and a wreath of white flowers, roses and dahlias, accompanied by foliage from Balmoral and Windsor castles, the coffin made its slow progress to the sound of funeral marches by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Chopin.

Britons were expected in their hundreds of thousands to mourn their beloved monarch, hailed for her total dedication to the Crown during her reign.

But you’ll have to be patient, as the long queue is likely to stretch for up to 15 kilometers. They were already thousands, Wednesday, to wait on the opposite bank to the parliament. The first to arrive had spent the night there; those who arrived late in the day said they were ready to do the same.

A rock of stability amid crises and change, the queen was a reassuring image to millions of Britons during her reign. Charles III’s popularity ratings, meanwhile, have soared since his accession to the throne.

According to a YouGov poll on Tuesday, three in five people thought he would make a good king, up from just over 30 percent a few months ago.