Monarchy: Goodbye Ma'am: London bows to the Queen

Goodbye Ma'am: London bows to the Queen

People stand in the street waiting for the hearse with Queen Elizabeth II's coffin. Photo: Andreea Alexandru/AP

People stand on the street waiting for the hearse with the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II. Photo

© Andreea Alexandru/AP/dpa

London was Elizabeth II's home, the center of her steadfast duty - and some of her happiest moments. Now the dead monarch in the coffin is parading through the streets of her capital for the last time.

There's something in the air on this September day Westminster And it's not just the scent of the plants and soil in London's St. James' Park that the night's constant rain has released. As the wet paths around the square in front of Buckingham Palace and on both sides of The Mall fill with people in the early hours of Wednesday morning, there is a sense that a big event is imminent.

Queen Elizabeth II. will parade through Westminster in pomp one last time - in a coffin, followed by her children and grandchildren in a funeral procession unlike anything the country has seen in 70 years.

"There comes a circle"

Ann and John Cooper stayed downtown all night. They sit on an orange plastic tarpaulin, leaning against the barrier to the street. Both are wearing the same bright red outdoor jacket. "It's a once in a lifetime event and it's just right to be here," says 69-year-old Ann, who describes herself as a "coronation baby" because she was born in the same month that the queen was crowned. The Gloucestershire couple went camping in St James' Park almost 40 years ago when they were newly in love. It was Charles and Diana's wedding anniversary. Now they are back. "It comes full circle," she says, and her husband John nods.

For the two friends Ann Leo and Alison Harper from the county of Kent it is also an event that they definitely don't want to miss. "It's not something we'll see again in our lives," says 66-year-old Ann, adding, "I can't think of anything like it. Maybe a Mars landing?" Alison finds it a sad and happy moment at the same time. She was already at the funeral procession for Princess Diana included. But now it feels different. "People were shocked back then, people mourned and cried," she recalls. Now it's incredibly sad. "But you also have the anticipation of Charles."

Procession across the Mall to Parliament

The new king (73), his siblings and sons William (40) and Harry (37) are to follow the coffin in the procession. It's a familiar path for the Queen. The procession leads across the Mall to the Horse Guards Parade parade ground and from there to the White Hall government district and Parliament. It's these streets that Elizabeth As a 19-year-old, she mingled with the cheering crowd, danced, laughed, and celebrated the victory over Hitler's Germany.

Here she celebrated her official birthday with the people at the colorful Trooping the Color military parade almost every year for the past seven decades - most recently this year on the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

In earlier years, she herself sat on horseback. She was even shot at once while leading her guardsmen in red uniforms and bearskin hats. But the bullet missed its target. Later she preferred the carriage.

But this time there is no marching music. Only the clatter of hooves and the clank of armor and harness will be heard as the cortege makes its way down the avenue lined with giant Union Jack flags and plane trees. The coffin is to be pulled on a carriage - a horse-drawn gun carriage. Horses have always been her special love. Even as a small child she sat in the saddle. A few months before her death, she is said to have last sat on a horse.

Two kilometer route

30-year-old Lidia Belaloui has been standing at the front of the roundabout in front of the palace since 2 a.m. The student from France raved about the British royals as a child. The Queen is a "role model for humanity," she says. "I have a lot of respect for her," she says, adding after a little pause: "Even love." She can't wait for the funeral procession to begin. But she has to be patient until just after 2 p.m.

It will be a rare sight for Britons to see their royals so humbled as they walk the roughly two-kilometer route. For William and Harry, it may bring back memories of trudging after Diana's coffin as boys. The experience of losing her mother had brought her together. It remains to be seen whether her grandmother's death will have a similar effect.

The destination of the funeral procession is Parliament's venerable Westminster Hall. For the British, who are expected there in their hundreds of thousands to say goodbye to their queen, her coffin will be laid out there for several days. The Queen's motto was: "I have to be seen so that people believe in me" - quite a few mourners should have the feeling on this day that she is still there for her subjects even after her death.


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