Thousands of people have queued in London to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II, ahead of her funeral
Over the weekend, lines extended along the Thames beyond Tower Bridge, as mourners came from far and wide.
Thousands of police, hundreds of troops and an army of officials made final preparations for the state funeral.
It will also be the biggest gathering of world leaders for years.
Joe Biden arrives
U.S. President Joe Biden and other dignitaries are in London for the funeral, to which around 2000 royals, heads of state and heads of government from around the globe have been invited.
From across the UK, and around the world, they came to say goodbye.
The queue stretching along the Thames, as far as the eye could see, so they could see their beloved monarch, one last time.
From the common man, to the sportsman, David Beckham joining the queues and shedding a tear by the coffin.
World leaders arrive
Britain’s airports were busy too, as thousands of foreign dignitaries arrived in London.
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrived, their motorcade speeding through London’s streets to Westminster Hall .. to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth.
They signed a condolence book at Lancaster House.
The First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, was in tears as she visited Westminster Hall.
She them met with the Princess of Wales at Buckingham Palace.
Other distinguished Heads of States, including the President of France, Bulgaria, Singapore and Nigeria, plus Prime Ministers from across the commonwealth, entered Westminster Hall to pay their respects to the monarch.
They arrived at Buckingham Palace by bus for a diplomatic reception hosted by the new King.
Earlier, the queen’s eight grandchildren, led by heir to the throne Prince William, circled the coffin and stood with heads bowed during a silent vigil.
The miles-long queue was closed to new arrivals late Sunday so that everyone in line can file past the coffin before the funeral.
This is the first state funeral in London since Winston Churchill died in 1965. And with thousands of world leaders in attendance, it’s a necessary, but security nightmare for the British security services.
If you are planning to visit Buckingham Palace today, please note you will not be able to access the area in front of the main gate. Those wishing to pay their respects can visit the Floral Tribute Garden in Hyde Park. pic.twitter.com/TqB5VqgYwK
— The Royal Parks (@theroyalparks) September 18, 2022
But this is a well rehearsed plan, and London has had years to prepare.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan says it one of the first things he was prepared for when he took the top job.
“If you think about the London marathon, the carnival, previous royal weddings, the Olympics – it’s all that in one.”
The size of the crowds turning out to farewell the queen is impossible to predict, but with unprecedented crowds lining for almost a day to view her coffin, police aren’t taking any chances.
An estimated 4 billion people are expected to watch the funeral on television, as the eyes of the world turn to London.
Zara pulls ad over Gaza boycott uproar
Fashion giant Zara has withdrawn one of its advertisements from the front page of its website after facing calls for a boycott over its alleged insensitivity to the situation in Gaza.
The controversy erupted when Zara featured an ad showcasing its latest collection on its website’s front page, coinciding with a period of heightened tensions in the Gaza Strip. Critics argued that the timing was inappropriate, given the ongoing conflict and suffering in the region.
Social media campaigns and online petitions quickly gained traction, with thousands of people expressing their disapproval and calling for a boycott of Zara products. The hashtag #BoycottZara trended on various platforms, putting immense pressure on the clothing retailer.
In response, Zara issued a statement announcing the removal of the controversial ad. The company expressed regret over any offense caused and reaffirmed its commitment to corporate responsibility.
However, this incident has sparked a broader debate about the intersection of fashion and political sensitivity in an increasingly interconnected world.
BTS stars take a break to serve military time
The world-renowned South Korean megaband BTS has announced an indefinite hiatus, with all seven members set to fulfil their mandatory military service obligations.
The news has sent shockwaves through the global entertainment industry and left fans wondering what the future holds for the chart-topping group.
This decision comes after the septet’s unprecedented rise to fame, conquering international music charts, and amassing a dedicated fan base known as the ARMY.
The group’s management agency, Big Hit Entertainment, released a statement confirming that the hiatus is aimed at allowing each member to complete their military service without interruption. This move is seen as a testament to their commitment to fulfilling their civic duties despite their immense success.
While BTS fans are undoubtedly disappointed by the hiatus, it raises intriguing questions about the group’s future. Will their time away from the spotlight allow them to explore new musical directions?
Navalny’s mysterious disappearance deepens Russia’s prison puzzle
Alexei Navalny, the prominent Russian opposition leader, has reportedly disappeared within the intricate web of Russia’s prison system, according to his team.
The sudden vanishing act has raised concerns and fueled speculation about his well-being and safety.
Navalny’s supporters and legal team have been unable to establish contact with him for several days, sparking fears that he may be facing dire circumstances behind bars.
His imprisonment had already drawn international condemnation, with accusations of political persecution.
The enigma surrounding Navalny’s whereabouts intensifies the already strained relationship between Russia and the West.
As the world watches, questions linger about the transparency and fairness of Russia’s justice system, leaving many to wonder if Navalny’s voice will continue to be silenced.
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