Biden to join leaders paying respects to queen before funeral By Reuters

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© Reuters. People pay respects to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, following her death, as she lies in state, in London, Britain September 17, 2022. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

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By Michael Holden and William James

LONDON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to pay tribute at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth in London on Sunday, joining other world leaders and hundreds of thousands of people who have filed past the late British monarch as she lies in state.

Biden will later join King Charles and scores of other dignitaries and royals from around the globe for a reception ahead of the grand state funeral https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/plans-queen-elizabeths-state-funeral-2022-09-15/ for Elizabeth on Monday.

Elizabeth’s body has been lying in state at the historic Westminster Hall since Wednesday, and people from all walks of life and from around the world https://widerimage.reuters.com/story/the-queens-queue-a-portrait-of-our-times have been filing past in a constant, emotional stream https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/inside-westminster-hall-moment-sombre-relection-final-glance-back-queen-2022-09-16/, many queuing overnight.

“Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world,” Biden said in a message following news of the queen’s death on Sept. 8 at the age of 96.

He was one of the 14 U.S. presidents https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/queen-elizabeths-reign-featured-enchiladas-with-reagan-dancing-with-ford-2022-09-12/ of her 70-year reign, of which Elizabeth met all except Lyndon Johnson, starting with Harry Truman in 1951 when she was still a princess.

Biden will join presidents, prime ministers, kings, queens and sultans representing nearly 200 countries and territories at the funeral.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however, is no longer expected to attend, according to a British government source. Inviting the man Western leaders believe ordered the murder in 2018 of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been controversial. He has denied any role in the killing.

Britain has invited https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/world-leaders-come-london-queen-elizabeths-funeral-2022-09-12/ heads of state or ambassadors from any country with which it has full diplomatic relations, but it is up to those nations who they send. The change was made by Saudi Arabia, the source added.

‘LOVE FOR A SON’

For all the high ceremony and careful diplomacy of the funeral, for the queen’s family, it is also when they will bid farewell to a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Prince Andrew https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/disgraced-prince-andrew-back-spotlight-still-out-cold-2022-09-15/, the queen’s second son, paid tribute to “Mummy, Mother, Your Majesty” on Sunday, reflecting the roles he said Elizabeth fulfilled during her reign.

“Mummy, your love for a son, your compassion, your care, your confidence I will treasure forever,” he said.

Andrew has fallen from grace, stripped of the “His Royal Highness” title and removed from royal duties after a scandal over his friendship with late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, and a related sex assault allegation.

Andrew, Duke of York, has not been charged with any criminal offence and has denied any wrongdoing. He paid to settle a U.S. civil court case.

On Saturday evening, his two daughters joined the queen’s other six grandchildren, including Charles’ sons Princes William and Harry, at a vigil around her coffin.

Camilla https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/rottweiler-queen-consort-camillas-rise-shadow-diana-2022-09-08/, wife of the new king and now Queen Consort, said the smile of the late queen was “unforgettable”, in her own tribute https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/i-will-always-remember-queen-elizabeths-smile-camilla-pays-tribute-2022-09-18/ on Sunday.

CLAMOURING CROWDS

Monday’s funeral and the period of mourning has already drawn hundreds of thousands of people to central London’s streets and parks, with many clamouring to view floral tributes and experience the atmosphere.

The government advised against travelling to join the queue to see the coffin before the line closes later on Sunday.

Such has been the desire to pay tribute to the popular monarch, the only one most Britons have known since her accession in 1952, that tens of thousands have waited patiently for hours alongside the River Thames to spend a few brief seconds at the side of her coffin.

Dignitaries have also taken their place on a balcony to view her lying-in-state, with leaders from Canada, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and elsewhere having already paid their respects.

“Everybody’s there for one person, to mark what she’s done for people and whatever way they felt she touched them or their country,” said Darren Luckhurst, a 49-year-old headteacher.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the “sheer silence” was one of the things that made the laying in state so moving, adding that she had shared her moment beside the coffin on Friday with people who had queued for 20 hours or longer.

“The queen was here for her people and now her people are there for her,” she told the BBC on Sunday.

Prince William joined his father Charles to speak to mourners waiting in line on Saturday. “She wouldn’t believe all this, she really wouldn’t,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

MOMENT OF REFLECTION

Britain has hosted a series of poignant, carefully choreographed ceremonies in the 10 days that have followed Elizabeth’s death, reflecting the traditions and pageantry of a royal family whose lineage stretches back almost 1,000 years.

A minute of national silence will be held at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Sunday, marked by the striking of Big Ben, which towers over Westminster Hall.

London’s police force has described the funeral ceremony as the biggest security operation it has ever undertaken.

Members of the public were camping out to secure positions on the procession route and near Westminster Abbey, the site of coronations, weddings and burials of English and then British kings and queens since William I in 1066.

Britain has not held a state funeral on the scale planned for the queen since that for World War Two leader Winston Churchill in 1965.

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