© Reuters. The guard is changed while members of the public pay their respects as they pass the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as it Lies in State inside Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 14, 2022. BEN STANSALL/Pool via REUTERS
By Angus MacSwan and Humza Jilani
LONDON (Reuters) -The state funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will unite people from across the globe, the official in charge of the huge ceremonial event said on Thursday, as mourners from all walks of life queued for hours to file past the late monarch’s coffin.
World leaders will gather on Monday for the funeral for Elizabeth, queen for 70 years whose global stature was almost without equal.
She is currently lying in state in London’s ancient Westminster Hall, where tens of thousands are waiting patiently in line to pay their final respects to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
“These events are taking place against the backdrop of an outpouring of grief, affection, and gratitude for people in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and across the world,” said the Earl Marshal, Edward Fitzalan-Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, England’s most senior peer who is in charge of state occasions.
“It is our aim and belief that the state funeral and events of the next few days will unite people across the globe,” he told reporters.”
As he spoke, the queue to see the queen’s coffin stretched more than 4 miles (6.5 km) along the south bank of the River Thames, crossing Lambeth Bridge as it neared Westminster Hall.
As King Charles returned to his Highgrove home in the southern English county of Gloucestershire after days of scheduled events, officials expected about 750,000 people to view his mother’s coffin before the lying in state ends at 6.30 a.m. (0530 GMT) on Monday.
Some had travelled from abroad, dropping off bags at nearby hotels to join those moving slowly through Westminster Hall. Mourners included former Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip, who bowed their heads before the coffin as they filed past with members of the public.