World leaders gather for Queen's funeral

·2-min read

Thousands of police, hundreds of troops and an army of officials have made final preparations for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II - a spectacular display of national mourning that will also be the biggest gathering of world leaders for years.

US President Joe Biden and other dignitaries are arriving in London for the funeral, to which around 500 royals, heads of state and heads of government from around the globe have been invited.

Thousands of people continued to line up on Sunday around the clock to file past the Queen's coffin as it lies in state at parliament's Westminster Hall, braving chilly overnight temperatures and waits of up to 17 hours.

The Queen's eight grandchildren, led by Prince William, circled the coffin and stood with heads bowed during a silent vigil on Saturday evening.

The kilometres-long queue is expected to be closed to new arrivals later on Sunday so that everyone in line can file past the coffin before Monday morning, when it will be borne on a gun carriage to Westminster Abbey for the funeral.

People across the United Kingdom are due to pause Sunday evening for a nationwide minute of silence to remember the Queen, who died on September 8 at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne.

Monday has been declared a public holiday, and the funeral will be broadcast to a huge television audience and screened to crowds in parks and public spaces across the country.

Thousands of police officers from around the country will be on duty as part of the biggest one-day policing operation in London's history.

Charles and William made an unannounced visit Saturday to greet people in the line, shaking hands and thanking mourners in the queue near Lambeth Bridge.

Before the vigil, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie issued a statement praising their "beloved grannie."

"We, like many, thought you'd be here forever. And we all miss you terribly. You were our matriarch, our guide, our loving hand on our backs leading us through this world. You taught us so much and we will cherish those lessons and memories forever," the sisters wrote.

The silence in the hall was briefly broken Friday when a man lunged at the coffin. London police said Sunday that a 28-year-old London man, Muhammad Khan, has been charged with behaviour intended to "cause alarm, harassment or distress." He will appear in court on Monday.

After the service Monday at the abbey, the Queen's coffin will be transported through the historic heart of London on a horse-drawn gun carriage.

It will then be taken in a hearse to Windsor, where the Queen will be interred alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.