Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin has arrived at Buckingham Palace; Charles III promises to serve ‘all the people’ of Northern Ireland

Five days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland, her remains landed in London on Tuesday evening September 13 to the applause of the crowd at Buckingham Palace in London. An impatient crowd waited outside to pay their last respects to the one who reigned seventy years and whose funeral will take place on Monday September 19 at Westminster Abbey in the British capital.

After being exposed to the public for the first time for twenty-four hours in Edinburgh, Scotland, the royal coffin was escorted by an almost continuous guard of honor, formed by thousands of anonymous people along the road between the airport London and Buckingham Palace, where he will spend the night before joining Westminster Hall on Wednesday.

At Buckingham Palace, the coffin carried by grenadiers was welcomed by King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla, who had just returned from a brief official visit to Northern Ireland, and other members of the royal family. The new king’s first visit to Northern Ireland took place in a particular context, Tuesday September 13: while Charles III succeeds Elizabeth II in an atmosphere of popular fervor and national emotion, Northern Ireland is in prey to community tensions.

Britain's King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla greet visitors as they arrive at Hillsborough Castle in Belfast on September 13, 2022.

“With a shining example before me, and with God’s help, I take up my new duties determined to seek the well-being of all the people of Northern Ireland”declared the monarch in front of the local Parliament, stopped for months.

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As soon as he arrived at Hillsborough Castle, where they joined the tens of thousands of people gathering at the coffin of Elizabeth II, Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla came into contact with the thousands of people massed behind the barriers, hugging hands, greeting the children, exchanging a few words, images that were hard to imagine in the days of Disorders » (Northern Irish conflict).

critical moment

Politically paralyzed, and in turmoil under the effect of the victory in the last elections of the Republicans of Sinn Fein, who do not recognize the authority of the monarchy, Northern Ireland remains the most delicate stage of the tour of the new king in the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom.

The sovereign had played a major role in reconciliation in this province with a bloody past. But nearly a quarter of a century after the return of a fragile peace between Republicans, especially Catholics, and Unionists, mainly Protestants, tensions have been reignited by Brexit, reviving the idea of ​​a separation from the United Kingdom and of reunification with Ireland.

Social and political crisis

Tensions in Northern Ireland, separatist desires in Scotland, galloping inflation which weighs on purchasing power, the new 73-year-old king, older than all the British sovereigns on their accession to the throne, settles in his functions in a moment critical. The country, in the grip of a serious social and political crisis, has had a new prime minister for just a few days, Liz Truss. After visiting the British Parliament in London on Monday, then that of Edinburgh in Scotland on Monday, he will travel to Cardiff, Wales on Friday.

In Edinburgh on Tuesday morning, tens of thousands of Britons waited for hours all night and again for hours to meditate in front of the coffin of the sovereign who rested in Saint-Gilles cathedral, in the Scottish capital. King Charles III and his three siblings, Princes Andrew and Edward and Princess Anne, came in the evening with Queen Consort Camilla to observe a wake. The photo of the children of Elizabeth II, back to the coffin, made the “one” of all the daily newspapers on Tuesday.

750,000 people expected Monday in London

The body of Elizabeth II will spend its last night at Buckingham Palace, where it has so often resided, on Tuesday, in the Bow Room, a circular room with marble columns framing each of the windows. Palace staff can bid him farewell in private.

On Wednesday, the Queen’s coffin will leave its official home in the British capital on a gun carriage, crossing central London on its way to the Palace of Westminster in a grand procession, where it will be laid out for five days in Westminster Hall.

Thousands of people are expected for the procession through central London, which will be greeted by the bell of Big Ben and cannon shots in Hyde Park. They will be even more numerous to try to pay between Wednesday and Monday morning a last tribute in Westminster Hall to the sovereign. The press evokes up to 750,000 people over more than 10 kilometers.

The Queen’s state funeral will take place on Monday September 19 with some 500 foreign dignitaries and many crowned heads in attendance, but not the leaders of Russia, Belarus or Burma.

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The World with AFP

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