Mega gathering of world leaders in London as UK bids Queen final adieu

Thousands of police, hundreds of British troops and an army of officials made final preparations Sunday for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II — a spectacular display of national mourning that will also be the biggest gathering of world leaders for years.
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden were among thousands of mourners — from locals and touriststo world leaders — to pay their respects at Westminster Hall, where the queen is lying in state. The president put his hand to his heart as he stood quietly near the casket in the ornate 900-year-old hall. Biden calledthe queen “decent” and “honorable” and “all about service” as he signed the condolence book, saying his heart went out to the royal family.
“Queen Elizabeth lived her life for the people,” Jill Biden wrote in a book for spouses and ambassadors. “She served with wisdom and grace. We’ll never forget her warmth, kindness and the conversations we shared. ” Biden is one of500 world leaders and royals invited to the funeral, along with hundreds of British charity workers. As the dignitaries poured in, the clock was ticking down for those seeking a place in the longest queue many have ever seen to file past the queen’s coffin as it lies in state at Westminster Hall. Thousands of people kept lining up around the clock, braving chilly temperatures and waits of up to 17 hours in a queue that stretched for 8km.
Among the foreign leaders in London was New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, who said she was humbled to represent her nation at the funeral and towitness the national outpouring of grief and respect for the late queen. “The thing that I’ll take away from this period is the beauty of the public’s response, the kindness that you see from members of the public, the patience. ”
India’s President Droupadi Murmu visited Westminster Hall and offered tributes to the late queen. Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum were also in London to offer their condolences. Zelenska looked moved as she viewed the queen’s coffin. She later met Catherine, Princess ofWales, at Buckingham Palace.
Camilla,the new queen consort, paid tribute to the queen, saying the monarch “carved her own role” as a “solitary woman” on a world stage dominated by men. “I’ll always remember her smile. That smile is unforgettable,” she said.
The lying-in-state continues until early Monday, when the queen’s coffin will be moved on a gun carriage to Westminster Abbey for the funeral. Monday has been declared a public holiday, and the funeral will be broadcast to a television audience worldwide and screened to crowds in public spaces across the country.

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