LONDON — U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday afternoon, filing somberly into Westminster Hall, while U.K. officials worked to determine at which point public queuing for mourners would be halted.
Update 5:54 p.m. EDT Sept. 18: The United Kingdom’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed just before 6 p.m. EDT that the queue to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth II has closed.
Update 1:02 p.m. EDT Sept. 18: Joe Biden, speaking after seeing the queen’s coffin and signing the book of condolence, called meeting the monarch “an honor” and said she reminded him of his own mother, The Guardian reported.
“To all the people of England, all the people of the United Kingdom, our hearts go out to you, and you were fortunate to have had her for 70 years, we all were. The world is better for her,” Biden said.
According to The Associated Press, Biden made the sign of the cross and put his hand to his heart as he stood quietly near the queen’s casket. The Bidens were joined by U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley.
He is one of hundreds of world leaders in town to pay their respects to the queen, who died Sept. 8 at 96 after 70 years on the throne.
Origian report: People intent on joining the line to view Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin in London’s Westminster Hall were warned by government officials on Sunday to “avoid disappointment” by staying home.
The United Kingdom’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told mourners Sunday morning that a decision is being made about when to close the line, the BBC reported.
Meanwhile, the department confirmed that the wait time was hovering at around 11.5 hours, according to The Guardian.
Public viewing of the queen lying in state will officially close at 6:30 a.m. BST Monday, four and a half hours before the late monarch’s state funeral is slated to begin at Westminster Abbey, the BBC reported.
Meanwhile, Big Ben, the famous bell in the Elizabeth Tower, will be struck once to mark the start of the minute’s silence at 8 p.m. BST Sunday. It will then strike a second time to mark the observance’s end, U.K. Parliament confirmed in a statement obtained by the BBC.
Big Ben will also chime on Monday at one-minute intervals as the queen’s state funeral procession departs from Westminster Abbey, the outlet reported.
The Associated Press offered the following fast facts surrounding the state funeral and 10 days of public mourning:
- 2,000: Dignitaries and guests in Westminster Abbey for the state funeral, ranging from King Charles III and other royals to world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, and members of the British public who helped battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 800: Guests expected at a committal service later in the day at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
- 1,650: The minimum number of military personnel involved in the pomp-filled procession of the queen’s coffin from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch after her funeral. A further 1,000 will line the streets along the procession route. When the coffin reaches Windsor, 410 military personnel will take part in the procession, 480 will line streets, 150 will be in a guard of honor and line steps and 130 more will fulfill other ceremonial duties.
- 142: Royal Navy ratings who will pull the state gun carriage carrying the queen’s coffin on Monday when it leaves the Houses of Parliament for her funeral.
- 10,000-plus: Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said the “hugely complex” policing operation is the biggest in the London force’s history, surpassing the London 2012 Olympics that saw up to 10,000 police officers on duty per day.
- 22: Miles of barriers erected in central London alone to control crowds and keep key areas around the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace secure.
- 1 million: The number of people London transport authorities expect to visit the capital on Monday. Around 250 extra rail services will run to move people in and out of the city.
- 5: Miles of people lining up to file past the queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall. The mammoth queue stretched back from the Houses of Parliament along the south bank of the River Thames to Southwark Park.
- 125: Movie theaters that will open their doors to broadcast Monday’s funeral live.
- 2,868: Diamonds, along with 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls, and four rubies, sparkle in the Imperial State Crown that rested on the queen’s coffin as it lay in state.