Security panic strikes mourning as King meets leaders

Crowds greeted Britain’s King Charles III today as he arrived at Buckingham Palace to meet with leaders of the Commonwealth, after hours of a security panic that brought the Queen’s dismal state to a standstill.

Charles’ arrival at the palace came as world leaders began arriving in London ahead of Monday’s state funeral, the first in Britain in nearly six decades.

Princes William and Harry were later appointed to lead a vigil for Queen Elizabeth II’s eight grandchildren in her coffin, joining tens of thousands of members of the public who have lined up around the clock for days.

Those inside Parliament’s Westminster Hall for lying in the state received a shock late yesterday when a man burst out of line and approached the coffin topped by the Imperial State Crown.

Live television broadcasts of the mourners were briefly interrupted at around 10 p.m. while the man was detained by police, two hours after Charles and his three brothers set up their vigil in the cavernous hall.

“He has been arrested for an offense under the Public Order Act and is currently in custody,” the Metropolitan Police in London said.

The Queen’s death on September 8 at the age of 96, after 70 years on the throne, sparked a flood of emotions.

Members of the public brave waiting times of more than 25 hours, and chilly nighttime temperatures to see her flag-covered coffin.

Queues have spread for miles along the Thames since Wednesday when her coffin was brought to the British Parliament compound.

The London Ambulance Service said about 435 people required medical treatment, often for head injuries after fainting, in the waiting list.

Police are launching Britain’s largest-ever security operation at a funeral on Monday, where hundreds of dignitaries including US President Joe Biden are due to arrive.

Less than two weeks into becoming prime minister, British Prime Minister Liz Truss was today kicking off a weekend filled with meetings with world leaders including her counterparts from New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, and Australia, Anthony Albanese, at Government House in Chevening.

Tomorrow, she is scheduled to meet with Mr. Biden, Michael Tawisic, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Polish leader Andrzej Duda in Downing Street.

Meanwhile, Charles is scheduled to meet today with prime ministers of the Commonwealth of Nations — the 14 former colonies he now reigns over as well as the United Kingdom — including Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Jamaica and New Zealand.

From Australia and Canada to Jamaica and Papua New Guinea, they have officially declared him their new king.

But republican movements are gaining ground in many countries, and efforts to keep them all in the royal fold are likely a feature of his rule.

Charles yesterday ended his first tour as King of the UK’s four countries with a visit to Wales, as part of a process dubbed ‘Spring Tide’ to launch him into his new position.

Prince Edward, Prince Andrew and King Charles in vigil

wave of emotion

Back in London, Charles joined the 15-minute vigil with his brothers – Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – around their mother’s coffin last night.

They stood silently with their eyes dimmed, as the members of the audience passed by.

The eight grandchildren will repeat the vigil this evening, including the new heir to the throne Prince William and his estranged brother Harry.

Harry – who served two tours with the British Army in Afghanistan – got special permission from his father to wear the uniform despite not being a member of the royal family.

The move is the latest olive branch offered by Charles to Harry after the prince and his wife Meghan, who now live in California, accused the royal family of racism.

The personal grief of the Queen’s family was reflected in the glow of intense international interest.

But Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, said: “We were overwhelmed by the wave of emotion that swept us and the huge number of people who did their best to express their love, admiration and respect.”

The public will have until early Monday to view the coffin before honoring the Queen with Britain’s first state funeral in nearly six decades.

The magnificent celebration at Westminster Abbey – expected to be watched by millions around the world – will see 142 sailors pull the gun wagon carrying its lead-lined coffin.

More than 2,000 guests will attend, but leaders from countries at odds with the UK such as Russia, Belarus and Afghanistan were not invited.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan will attend, after a diplomatic row prevented Chinese officials from visiting the coffin inside Parliament.

About 800 people, including members of the Queens family of Windsor, will attend a private burial service next at 4pm at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

After the funeral, the King and members of the royal family will walk behind the Queen’s casket to Wellington Arch when it leaves Westminster Abbey, before it is carried to Windsor at the state bell.