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Royals escort queen on final journey from Buckingham Palace




LONDON — To the strains of a military band, King Charles III on Wednesday led his family in procession behind Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin as she left Buckingham Palace for the final time to lie in state until her funeral.
The king, his siblings, and sons, princes William and Harry, walked at 75 steps a minute behind the horse-drawn gun carriage carrying the queen’s body to Westminster Hall, where hundreds of thousands of people will pay their last respects.
Soldiers in red dress uniform played Beethoven’s Funeral March and Big Ben tolled out each minute as the casket — covered by a royal standard and topped with the Imperial State Crown — passed in front of hushed crowds lining the route.
The grand procession through the flag-lined heart of London represented the latest spectacular step in the 11 days of intricately choreographed national mourning across the UK that will culminate with the funeral on Monday of its longest-reigning monarch.
The public, some of whom began queuing on Monday, will begin filing past the coffin from 5pm, with mourners already warned they will face an endurance test to wait in lines that could tail back 8km.
Strict rules and airport-style security measures have been put in place, with “far more” people expected than the 200,000 who filed past the coffin of the queen’s mother when she died in 2002, according to Prime Minister Liz Truss’ spokesman.
Hotel rooms in the British capital are increasingly hard to find, with even budget rooms going for £300 per night, while transport bosses and police are under pressure to keep the city moving and safe in exceptional circumstances. 
“It’s a massive challenge for the Metropolitan Police and for me personally, but we have been preparing for many, many years,” the newly appointed head of the London police force, Mark Rowley, told Sky News on Tuesday.
UK tour
The body of the late 96-year-old queen, who died “peacefully” at her Balmoral estate in Scotland on Thursday, was flown to London on Tuesday evening from Edinburgh. It was then driven to Buckingham Palace.
The procession on Wednesday mirrored a similar ceremony in Edinburgh on Monday when her coffin was driven through the hushed streets of the city to lie “at rest” at St Giles’ Cathedral.
After Scotland and England, Charles continued his tour of the four nations of the UK on Tuesday by visiting Northern Ireland for the first time as king. He visits Wales on Friday.
The 73-year-old new head of state has won wide praise in the British media for his dignified and often heartfelt reaction to his mother’s death, which has led to a rare moment of public unity in Britain.
Members of the Blues and Royals take part in the ceremonial procession of Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, in London on September 14, 2022. 
He has seen his popularity recover since the death of his former wife Diana in a 1997 car crash — and his ratings have surged in recent days, according to a new survey on Tuesday.
The mourning has also obscured — albeit briefly — the broader country’s sharp political divisions and a severe cost-of-living crisis that is expected to cause a major increase in poverty over the winter.
The procession on Wednesday meant another prominent role for the queen’s scandal-hit son Andrew, who settled a case in the US earlier this year in which he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old.
Not everyone shares the public mood of sadness and remembrance sparked by the queen’s death, with royal fatigue increasingly evident on social media in the face of blanket media coverage.
British police have also faced criticism from civil liberties groups over their treatment of anti-monarchy protesters who have publicly challenged Charles’ accession to the throne.
Video footage and witnesses have drawn attention to police arresting or intimidating people who shouted slogans against the monarchy or held up placards reading “Not My King”.
The queen’s funeral will take place in Westminster Abbey in front of 2,000 VIP guests, with the day declared a public holiday in Britain.

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