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A homecoming, but of the saddest kind. Under a veil black sky, the Queen arrived at Buckingham Palace for the last time last night.
Her flag-draped coffin was met by grieving members of the royal family — led by King Charles III and the Queen Consort — who will mourn in silence. Such a source of stability, comfort and continuity to the nation for so many years, it is still hard to believe that she is no longer in our presence.
It’s also hard to believe that a few weeks ago, an excited crowd gathered in the Mall to cheer her appearance on the palace balcony to mark her platinum anniversary.
What a poignant contrast to today, when solemn benefactors will populate the streets of London as her coffin is transported to Westminster Hall, where she will lie in state for four days.
A homecoming, but of the saddest kind. Under a veil black sky, the Queen arrived at Buckingham Palace for the last time last night
However, there are serious fears that the government and authorities (not, we hasten to add, the palace) have failed to adequately plan for the huge public desire to greet the beloved sovereign in person.
People, who have flocked from all over the kingdom, queue for 35 hours to get past her coffin. Logistics suggests that only 400,000 will do this – and millions remain bitterly disappointed.
But for God’s sake, man has landed on the moon. It should not be beyond the minds of ministers and officials to find a common sense solution. How about extending the funeral route, to lighten the immense load?
As Robert Hardman writes today, this will be the greatest collective farewell of our lives. We don’t get a second chance.
People, who have flocked from all over the kingdom, queue for 35 hours to get past her coffin. Logistics suggests only 400,000 will do this – with millions left bitterly disappointed
Violation of protocol
In a moving remembrance service in Belfast yesterday, attended by King Charles, the Archbishop of Armagh spoke forcefully of one of the Queen’s finest achievements.
Driven by duty and empathy, he said, she was a major force for healing and reconciliation between the divided Unionist and Nationalist communities in Northern Ireland, as well as Britain and Ireland.
Indeed, her historic handshake with former IRA terrorist Martin McGuinness in 2012 marked a brighter future, free from bloodshed and hatred.
On the first visit to the province by a British king in 80 years, Charles rightly promised to follow her “beaming example.”
In a moving reflection service in Belfast yesterday, attended by King Charles, the Archbishop of Armagh spoke forcefully of one of the Queen’s finest achievements
After all, he himself was touched by the tragedy of Troubles: the IRA murdered his great-uncle, Earl Mountbatten, in a brutal terror attack in 1979. He knows full well that as a sovereign he cannot step into political opinion – especially given the sensitivities in Northern Ireland. Ireland.
It is therefore difficult to understand what Simon Coveney is trying to achieve by hinting that the king wants a deal with the EU over the broken Northern Ireland protocol, which has already sparked sectarian tensions.
Is the Irish Foreign Secretary cynically trying to use the mourning period for political ends? Or does he fundamentally misunderstand that the British monarch must be strictly politically neutral?
Police free speech
With exhausting inevitability, a small number of anti-monarchist protesters have turned to public mourning events to celebrate the Queen and the new King.
But while these demonstrations were insensitive and inappropriate, the police’s heavy-handed response to those expressing Republican views is deeply disturbing.
Must a man who cried, ‘Who chose him?’ be arrested by a proclamation of Charles III? Was it fair proportion to accuse a woman just for holding up a sign that read ‘Abolish the monarchy’? Their actions were hardly high treason.
Sadly, this was the latest disturbing example of officers crossing the line.
At this time, it is important for the police to remember that the monarchy symbolizes our democratic freedoms. And the most essential of these is freedom of expression.