Britain And The World Bid Adieu To Queen Elizabeth II

A Bearer Party of The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards places the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard, onto the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy outside Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 19, 2022, where it has been Lying in State since September 14. AFP

 

Britain said farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday at a state funeral attended by world leaders, before a historic last ceremonial journey through the streets of London packed with sorrowful mourners.

Huge crowds gathered in near silence to watch as the queen’s flag-draped coffin, topped with the Imperial State Crown, her orb and sceptre, was carried slowly to a gun carriage from parliament’s Westminster Hall where it had lain in state since Wednesday.

To the tune of pipes and drums, the gun carriage — used at every state funeral since Queen Victoria’s in 1901 — was then drawn by 142 junior enlisted sailors in the Royal Navy to Westminster Abbey.

The thousand-year-old church’s tenor bell tolled 96 times at one-minute intervals — one for every year of her life — stopping a minute before the service began at 11:00 am (1000 GMT).

In his funeral sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the queen’s life of duty and service to the UK and Commonwealth.

“People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer,” he told the 2,000 guests, who included US President Joe Biden and Japan’s reclusive Emperor Naruhito.

“But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered,” the Anglican leader added, before the coffin was borne on another procession towards her final resting place in Windsor Castle, west of London.

Britain’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York (R) stands as Britain’s King Charles III (L) and Britain’s Princess Anne, Princess Royal salute the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as it arrives at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022, for her State Funeral Service. (Photo by Geoff PUGH / POOL / AFP)

 

The longest-serving monarch in British history died at Balmoral, her Scottish Highland retreat, on September 8 after a year of declining health.

Her eldest son and successor, King Charles III, dressed in ceremonial military uniform, followed the solemn processions, alongside his three siblings.

‘She was my boss’

Charles’s eldest son Prince William accompanied them alongside William’s estranged brother, Prince Harry, and other senior royals.

William’s two eldest children, George and Charlotte, who are next in line to the throne, also walked behind the coffin inside the abbey.

Late Sunday, Charles, 73, and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, said they had been “deeply touched” by the public’s flood of messages.

“As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you,” he said.

Britain, a country much changed since the queen’s coronation in the same abbey in 1953, has dug deep into its centuries of tradition to honour the only monarch that most of its people have ever known.

“It’s once in a lifetime,” said student Naomi Thompson, 22, camped out in the crowds at London’s Hyde Park.

“It’s a moment of history… She’s everyone’s granny,” added engineer Alice Garret, 28.

Others unable to be in London gathered in cinemas and churches around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to watch the service and procession on big screens.

Auto engineer Jamie Page, a 41-year-old former soldier, stood on Whitehall to observe the funeral procession, wearing his military medals from service in the Iraq war.

“Sixteen years old, I swore an oath of allegiance to the queen. She’s been my boss. She means everything, she was like a gift from God,” he said.

Two minutes of silence

But on Charles, the oldest person yet to ascend the British throne, Page added: “Who knows, time will tell.”

The funeral lasted just under an hour, brought to an end by a bugler playing “The Last Post”, before two minutes of silence and the reworded national anthem, “God Save the King”.

After an hour-long procession that was to go past Buckingham Palace, the coffin was to be taken west by road to Windsor Castle, where thousands had lined the route since early morning.

 

Some 6,000 military personnel have been drafted in to take part in proceedings in what Britain’s highest-ranking military officer has called “our last duty for Her Majesty the Queen”.

The queen will be buried alongside her father king George VI, her mother queen Elizabeth and sister princess Margaret, reuniting in death the family who once called themselves “us four”.

The coffin of her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99, will also be transferred to lie alongside her.

Elizabeth’s funeral could not be more different from Philip’s at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in April 2021.

Coronavirus restrictions limited mourners to just 30, led by the queen, a solitary figure in mourning black and a matching facemask.

The contrast was profound on Monday, the abbey packed with dignitaries and some ordinary Britons who were honoured for their military or community service, especially during the Covid pandemic.

Biden’s tribute

“You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years; we all were,” Biden said on Sunday after signing a book of condolence. “The world is better for her.”

In the abbey pews was Liz Truss, whom the queen appointed as the 15th British prime minister of her reign just two days before her death, in her last major ceremonial duty.

All of Truss’s living predecessors were there plus her counterparts and representatives from the 14 Commonwealth countries outside Britain where Charles is also head of state.

Members of the Royal family attend the State Funeral Service for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022. – Leaders from around the world will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honoured with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)

 

Whether they remain constitutional monarchies or become republics is likely to be the defining feature of Charles’s reign.

The queen’s death has prompted deep reflection about the Britain she reigned over, the legacy of its past, its present state and what the future might hold, as well as the values of lifelong service and duty she came to represent during her 70-year reign.

Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have queued, sometimes for up to 25 hours and overnight, to file past the queen’s coffin as it lay in state.

Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the Royal Air Force who joined the marathon queue twice, was the last person through the doors and described the experience as “amazing”.

“When they came to me and said, ‘right, you’re the last person’, I said, really?!” she told AFP, before heading off to join the crowds for the coffin’s procession through London.

Big Ben tolls

Throughout the procession after the funeral, Big Ben, the giant bell atop the Elizabeth Tower at one end of the Houses of Parliament, tolled and military guns fired at one-minute intervals.

At Windsor, the Sebastopol Bell — captured in Crimea in 1856 — and the Curfew Tower Bell also sounded.

A vast television audience was expected to watch the funeral worldwide and live online, in a sign of the enduring fascination with the woman once described as “the last global monarch”.

Those lining the streets of London — already jammed at sunrise on Monday — said they had to bear witness.

“I will talk about this moment to my children,” said Jack Davies, 14, camped out for the procession with his parents at Hyde Park Corner, where the coffin will be transferred from the gun carriage for the drive to Windsor.

“I’ll say: ‘I was there!'”

At Windsor, the queen’s crown, orb and sceptre will be removed and placed on the altar.

The most senior officer of the royal household, the lord chamberlain, breaks his “wand of office” and places it on the coffin, symbolising the end of her reign.

The lead-lined oak casket, draped with the queen’s colours, will be lowered into the Royal Vault as a lone bagpiper plays a lament.

A private interment ceremony will take place at the adjoining King George VI Memorial Chapel at 1830 GMT.

With Elizabeth II, 20th Century Is Also Laid To Rest

The Royal family members attend the State Funeral Service for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)

 

The laying to rest of Queen Elizabeth II, whose 70-year reign witnessed the aftermath of World War II, the Cold War and dizzying technological change, marks a further step in a leave-taking with the 20th century.

The British monarch exercises little real power but Elizabeth was a titanic figure on the 20th-century stage, whose first prime minister was wartime leader Winston Churchill, met the first man in space Yuri Gagarin, and made landmark visits to newly independent nations as the British Empire fell apart.

Her death at the age of 96 was even more symbolic coming just over a week after the passing of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, 91, another among increasingly few surviving icons of the last century, who let the USSR dissolve and eastern Europe escape Moscow’s grip.


READ ALSO: Britain And The World Bid Adieu To Queen Elizabeth II


Their disappearances comes as the world is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, shaken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has revived fears of nuclear war, and waking up to how climate change could wreck the hopes of this and future generations.

“These were absolutely central figures whose like we will be hard-pressed to see again,” said Gilles Gressani, director of the French geopolitical journal Le Grand Continent.

“We are living in an interregnum — a space between two reigns, two eras,” he added.

“We often have this angst and anxiety; we know well that the world is changing because of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, terrorism, economic crises and the climate crisis.”

Losing the threads

Queen Elizabeth II will be buried Monday alongside her father, King George VI, and other family members at Windsor Castle outside London, after a state funeral attended by world leaders in the heart of the British capital.

Gradually, the world is losing the threads that still tied it to the 20th century, and just a few iconic figures remain alive.

The great cultural giants are also taking their leave — Jean-Luc Godard, one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century and the father of the French New Wave, died last week by assisted suicide.

Nelson Mandela, who campaigned to end apartheid in South Africa and then became its first majority-rule president, died in 2013. Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who led his country for half a century and was an icon of the Cold War, died in 2016.

Jimmy Carter, 97, is the sole former US president still alive to have ruled exclusively in the 20th century, during a convulsive single mandate that saw the overthrow of the shah in the Islamic revolution in Iran.

His successors Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush died in 2004 and 2018 respectively.

The current Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetans based in exile in India since 1951, when a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule failed, is 87 and still working.

And Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83, who in 1989 took over after the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, remains in a post that is appointed for life.

‘End of World War II’

Some of the greatest bridges now retained with the 20th century are cultural.

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, 79, still performs with his group while Beatles icon Paul McCartney, 80, continues with an illustrious solo career that included a rapturously received set at the Glastonbury Festival this year.

The queen herself was a symbol of a shift to modernity, with her coronation in 1953 the first major event televised around the world, and her first televised Christmas message in 1957 blazing a trail for other world leaders.

But above all, the death of the queen represents a major rupture with the memory of World War II, a conflict that her father King George VI endured along with his daughters and other Londoners in bomb-scarred London.

“The queen participated directly in the victory of 1945. Being one of the victors of 1945 left a strong mark on the identity of the United Kingdom and the queen embodied that until her death,” said Thomas Gomart, director of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).

“For me, the death of Elizabeth II, in a way, marks an end point for World War II,” he said.

PHOTOS: God Rest The Queen

The coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is carried out of the Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022, during the State Funeral Service. (Photo by Jack HILL / POOL / AFP)

 

For several decades, she served graciously as Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth; and now, she must finally rest. 

The Queen of the World as some would call her, Elizabeth II, is Britain’s longest serving monarch, an office which many say she served in with diligence and grace.

Blessed with a prosperous long-life, the queen peacefully died on September 8 at the age of 96, leaving many to mourn her demise even as they ponder on her life and the roles she played as their queen.


READ ALSO: Britain And The World Bid Adieu To Queen Elizabeth II


On Monday, September 19, the queen’s heir, King Charles III, who was enthroned after her demise, was joined by the rest of the royal family and leaders from across the world for her funeral service.

Below are some photos from the Queen’s state funeral, showing scenes that give us a sense of how loved she is, even as the world unites to say God rest her soul.

Britain’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York (R) stands as Britain’s King Charles III (L) and Britain’s Princess Anne, Princess Royal salute the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as it arrives at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022, for the her State Funeral Service. (Photo by Geoff PUGH / POOL / AFP)
Royal Navy saliors take the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in a Royal Standard on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy to Westminster Abbey for the State Funeral Service for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, in London on September 19, 2022. – Leaders from around the world will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honoured with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)
A Bearer Party of The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards carries the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard, from the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy to West.
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in a Royal Standard and adorned with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s orb and sceptre arrives during the State Funeral Service for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022. – Leaders from around the world will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honoured with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by Ben Stansall / POOL / AFP)
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard, from the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy is pictured at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022, ahead of the State Funeral Service. – Leaders from around the world will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honoured with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by Tristan Fewings / POOL / AFP)
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard, lies inside Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022, ahead of the State Funeral Service.

Members of the Royal family attends the State Funeral Service for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022. – Leaders from around the world will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honoured with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)
The Beast, the car in which US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden travels, passes The Pipes and Drums of the Scottish and Irish Regiments ahead of the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London on September 19, 2022. – Leaders from around the world will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honoured with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP)
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II with the Imperial State Crown resting on top, borne on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy proceeds towards Westminster Abbey on September 19, 2022 in London. (Photo by Jeff Spicer / POOL / AFP)
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in a Royal Standard and adorned with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s orb and sceptre arrives during the State Funeral Service for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022. – Leaders from around the world will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honoured with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by Ben Stansall / POOL / AFP)

Who Is Invited To Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral And Who Was Not?

Members of the public pay their respects at 4.57am, as they view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, as it Lies in State inside Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 19, 2022.

 

Hundreds of foreign royals and heads of state are expected to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London on Monday for one of the biggest diplomatic gatherings in decades.

Westminster Abbey has space for about 2,000 people. Around 500 heads of state and foreign dignitaries along with their partners are expected, according to BBC and Sky News reports.

Also attending Britain’s first state funeral for six decades will be the queen’s family members, courtiers, public figures and UK politicians.

World royalty

A host of royals from Europe and further afield have confirmed their attendance at the funeral for Britain’s longest-serving monarch.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will attend — their first overseas trip since assuming the throne in 2019. The visit marks a departure from Japanese tradition, which rarely sees the emperor attend funerals.

Europe’s royal families are closely related after centuries of mingling their bloodlines, so it will be no surprise to see several monarchs from the continent.

King Harald V of Norway, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Philippe, King of the Belgians will all attend.

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II, who scrapped a series of events marking her 50th jubilee following the death of her third cousin, Queen Elizabeth, is also coming.


READ ALSO: Five Things To Know About The Queen’s Coffin Procession


Spain’s King Felipe VI will be there with his wife Queen Letizia. So too will his father, former king Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in disgrace in 2014 and now lives in self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates.

Although Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and its de facto ruler, had been invited, it emerged late on Sunday that he would not be attending.

There has been international outrage at the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey by Saudi agents.

Global leaders

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wife, Olena, seems likely to attend, having visited the queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall on Sunday.

US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill head the diplomatic guest list and flew into Britain late on Saturday, also paying their respects in front of the coffin on Sunday.

Unlike some other leaders who have been asked to come in motor coaches arranged by the British government, Biden has reportedly been given permission to use his armoured presidential limousine, known as The Beast.

French President Emmanuel Macron will attend, the Elysee Palace said, to show the “unbreakable” bond with Britain and pay respects to the “eternal queen”.

He is also among the leaders allowed to use their own transport, British officials said.

Authoritarian Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are also coming.

China will send its vice-president, Wang Qishan, at the UK government’s invitation.

Despite Britain’s Brexit divorce from the European Union, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council head Charles Michel will go as well.

Other heads of state at the funeral will include Presidents Sergio Mattarella of Italy, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Isaac Herzog of Israel and Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea.

In a symbolic move to pay tribute to the queen, whose 2011 state visit to the Republic of Ireland helped heal decades of tensions over Northern Ireland’s position in the UK, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin will be present.

– Commonwealth countries –
Numerous leaders will come from countries where Queen Elizabeth was the head of state.

They include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese and New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern.

Leaders will also come from other states in the 56-nation Commonwealth, of which Queen Elizabeth was the symbolic figurehead.

They include South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Fijian PM Frank Bainimarama.

Not invited

Due to strained ties, the United Kingdom has opted to invite ambassadors, not heads of state, from several countries — Iran, Nicaragua and North Korea.

Russia and Belarus are among a small group of nations excluded altogether following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin — under a travel ban to the UK due to sanctions — had already said he would not attend.

But not inviting any Russian representative to the queen’s funeral was “particularly blasphemous towards Elizabeth II’s memory” and “deeply immoral”, the foreign ministry spokeswoman in Moscow said Thursday.

Russia and Belarus have embassies in London and their presidents sent King Charles III messages of condolences.

Other countries with no invitations are Myanmar, Syria, Venezuela and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Five Things To Know About The Queen’s Coffin Procession

Lady usher of the Black Rod, Sarah Clarke arrives to pay her respects at 06:29am after the final members of the public paid their respects pay their respects, passing the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, Lying-in-State inside Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 19, 2022.

 

The ceremonial processions taking Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin to London’s Westminster Abbey and then towards her burial place at Windsor reflect the ancient traditions of the British monarchy.

Hauled by the Royal Navy

Royal Navy sailors will use ropes to pull the queen’s lead-lined coffin mounted on a gun carriage from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey. Their comrades in a team of 142 sailors will walk alongside to act as a brake if necessary.

This tradition dates back to Queen Victoria’s funeral in February 1901.

The horses meant to haul the gun carriage weighing more than two tons panicked and began kicking, threatening to drop the coffin.


READ ALSO: Who Is Invited To Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral And Who Was Not?


One of the queen’s relatives, Prince Louis of Battenberg, a Royal Navy captain, suggested to the new king, Edward VII, that this problem could be avoided by replacing horses with sailors.

Nine years later when Edward VII himself died, this idea was put into practice again and it has since become an unchanging tradition at state funerals.

Pallbearers in bearskins

Eight soldiers from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards will have the task of carrying the queen’s coffin from Westminster Hall to the gun carriage outside, and then into Westminster Abbey.

One of the most ancient in the British army, the regiment is among five infantry regiments that make up the Queen’s (now King’s) Life Guard.

The regiment’s soldiers normally wear tall bearskin hats, a uniform they copied from the grenadiers of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, defeated at Waterloo in 1815.

The soldiers will be accompanied by Service Equerries to the Queen, attendants who assist the royals in carrying out public duties.

Guard of Honour

Three regiments will play a particularly important role in the procession, marching very close to the queen’s coffin.

The Yeomen of the Guard, the oldest military unit in the British Army created in 1485, and the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms are two former bodyguard units for the royals that now perform only a ceremonial role.

The Yeomen of the Guard always wear a red-and-gold uniform dating back to the Tudor era (16th century).

One of their best-known activities is searching the Palace of Westminster for gunpowder before the State Opening of Parliament.

This annual ritual commemorates the Gunpowder Plot, a failed attempt led by Guy Fawkes to blow up King James I and parliament in 1605.

They will be followed by members of the Royal Company of Archers, who acted as bodyguards for Elizabeth II whenever she was in Scotland.

Some detachments from other regiments in Britain and from the armed forces of the Commonwealth, a group of countries headed by the British monarch, will rejoin the funeral procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner near Buckingham Palace.

Elizabeth II’s royal house

While members of the royal family led by the new King Charles III will follow the casket, following them will be members of the queen’s royal household, including the most senior officer of the royal household, the lord chamberlain.

In front of them will come the pipers and drummers of the Scottish and Irish regiments, and the Brigade of Gurkhas made up of soldiers from Nepal who are part of the armed forces. There will also be 200 Royal Air Force musicians.

6,000 troops

Around 6,000 soldiers, sailors and air crew from the British armed forces will take part in the procession, Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Tony Radakin told the BBC on Sunday.

At several points along the route they will perform a royal salute, for example when they pass the Victoria Memorial commemorating the queen.

“For all of us, this is our last duty for Her Majesty the Queen and it’s our first prominent duty for His Majesty King Charles,” he said.

Two Police Officers Stabbed In London Ahead Of Queen’s Funeral

Members of the public pay their respects as they pass the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as it Lies in State inside Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 15, 2022. AFP

 

Two police officers were stabbed by a man early Friday in central London and hospitalised, police said, while ruling out terrorism amid massive security ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

The assailant was tasered and arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and assaulting an emergency worker, the Metropolitan Police said.

The man was also in hospital following the incident at around 6:00 am (0500 GMT) in the nightlife area around Leicester Square, it said.


READ ALSO: Who Is And Who Is Not Invited To Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral?


The busy area is less than a mile from where the queen’s coffin is lying in state at parliament ahead of Monday’s state funeral.

But a Met statement said: “The incident is not being treated as terror related.”

The two officers received stab wounds and are being treated in hospital, with further updates on their condition awaited, the statement said.

The force said “enquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident are ongoing”.

The UK’s first state funeral in nearly six decades is set to be attended by leaders and royalty from around the world, including US President Joe Biden.

Thousands of police from across the country have been deployed to London, while 1,500 army personnel are on standby to help manage crowds and security, as tens of thousands of people queue to file past the late monarch’s coffin.

It has been lying in state in parliament’s Westminster Hall since late Wednesday, where it will remain until early Monday.

London mayor Sadiq Khan called the attack on the officers “utterly appalling”.

“These brave officers were doing their duty and assisting the public at this momentous time for our country,” he said, adding “we owe them a huge debt of gratitude”.

Khan added he was in close contact with the Met’s new Commissioner Mark Rowley, who only took up the post on Monday.

Queen Elizabeth II: Commonwealth Should Come Together – Paul Arkwright 

 

The death of Queen Elizabeth II and the formal proclamation of King Charles III are great opportunities for the Commonwealth to come together. 

This was the comment of a former  British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, who spoke on Saturday, hours after Charles III was formally proclaimed king at a pomp-filled ceremony.

“The Commonwealth is very important to King Charles. In 2018 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London, there was a decision that he would become the Head of the Commonwealth upon the passing of his mother,” Arkwright told Channels Television.

“That is again another smooth transition when it comes to his role as the Head of the Commonwealth. But as the Queen herself used to describe the Commonwealth as a family, I do think that this is a moment for the whole family to come together.

“You are right, there have been strains within the Commonwealth, but I think, at the recent meeting in Kigali, which of course was a meeting held in Africa, we welcomed two new members from Africa. I think the Commonwealth is in good hands.”

READ ALSO: Charles III Proclaimed King With Trumpet Fanfare

According to him, the recent developments in the UK offer chances to further strengthen the values of the Commonwealth, maintaining that “it is a good moment to reflect” despite the strain in the group.

“It is a moment to look forward and to see how we can build the Commonwealth family and to make it even stronger,” he added.

He admitted that this is a difficult moment for Britain but argued that there is a note of optimism for the country.

“We are facing some turbulent times in the UK both politically and economically. We got a winter ahead which I think will be very difficult for many people in the UK,” Arkwright said.

“But this is a moment when everybody can come together and it is a unifying moment and I think there is a note of hope and optimism about the family – if you like, not just the Royal Family but all of us as a family (the family of the Commonwealth) coming together to wish the new king well.”

Biden To Attend Queen’s Funeral

US President Joe Biden announces student loan relief on August 24, 2022 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Biden announced that most US university graduates still trying to pay off student loans will get $10,000 of relief to address a decades-old headache of massive educational debt across the country. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP)
In this file photo, US President Joe Biden announces student loan relief on August 24, 2022 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Biden announced that most US university graduates still trying to pay off student loans will get $10,000 of relief to address a decades-old headache of massive educational debt across the country. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP)

US President Joe Biden said Friday that he will attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in Britain.

“I don’t know the details yet, but I’ll be going,” he told reporters.

The date of the funeral has not been confirmed, but it is expected to take place in Westminster Abbey in London on September 19.

READ ALSO: Queen Elizabeth II Dies At 96

Biden said he had not yet spoken to the queen’s son, King Charles III.

“I know him… I did not call him,” he said.

Biden spoke to the media before boarding Air Force One at Columbus International Airport in Ohio, where he had been giving a speech.

AFP

Britain’s New King Is Officially Charles III – Royal Aides

Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales would now be addressed as King Charles III.

 

Britain’s new king will be formally known as Charles III, his Clarence House residence confirmed Thursday, after suggestions that queen Elizabeth II’s heir might have taken a different regnal name.

Charles’s eldest son William inherits the duchy of Cornwall in addition to his current title of duke of Cambridge.

Charles III is the longest-serving heir-apparent in British history.

Aged 73, he has been heir to the throne since the age of just three, when his mother became Queen Elizabeth II.


READ ALSO: Queen Elizabeth II Dies At 96


Following are key dates in his life:

Early years

November 14, 1948: His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George of Edinburgh is born in Buckingham Palace, second in line to the throne.

December 15, 1948: Charles is christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the palace’s Music Room.

February 6, 1952: Death of Charles’s grandfather, King George VI, and ascent of Queen Elizabeth II. As the sovereign’s eldest son, Charles, aged just three, becomes heir to the throne.

June 2, 1953: Charles becomes the first heir to the throne to attend his mother’s coronation.

July 26, 1958: He becomes the 21st Prince of Wales, aged nine.

April 1962: Charles starts at Gordonstoun, a boarding school in northeast Scotland, which his father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, attended.

Gown and crown

1967: Charles leaves Gordonstoun and goes to Trinity College at Cambridge University to study archeology and anthropology, then history.

July 1, 1969: He is invested as Prince of Wales in a televised ceremony at Caernarfon Castle, after spending a term at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, learning Welsh.

1970: Charles graduates from university — the first heir to the throne to do so.

In the navy

September 1971: The future king joins the Royal Navy, a path also taken by his father. Serves on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates.

1974: Already a trained jet pilot, he qualifies as a helicopter pilot and joins an air squadron operating from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.

1976: Charles commands the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington before leaving the Royal Navy. He uses his navy severance pay of £7,400 to set up The Prince’s Trust charity.

Loss, love and children

August 27, 1979: Charles’s great-uncle and closest confidant Lord Louis Mountbatten is assassinated by the Irish Republican Army.

July 29, 1981: The prince marries Lady Diana Spencer at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral in a fairy-tale wedding watched by an estimated 750 million people worldwide. She becomes Princess of Wales.

June 21, 1982: The couple’s first son, Prince William, is born, ensuring the succession. Prince Harry follows on September 15, 1984.

March 10, 1988: Charles escapes uninjured in an avalanche while skiing in Klosters, Switzerland, but one of his friends is killed and another injured.

Divorce and tragedy

December 9, 1992: Charles and Diana announce their separation. The royal family is rocked by revelations about the couple’s marriage and infidelities. They formally divorce on August 28, 1996.

August 31, 1997: Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul are killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris as they try to flee paparazzi photographers.

Charles repatriates her body and insists she be granted full royal honours in death.

September 6, 1997: Charles accompanies William, Harry and their uncle, Charles Spencer, on foot behind her coffin to the funeral.

Camilla and grandchildren

April 9, 2005: Charles marries his longtime mistress Camilla Parker Bowles at Windsor Guildhall in a civil ceremony. She becomes the Duchess of Cornwall.

April 29, 2011: William marries Kate Middleton, a commoner, at Westminster Abbey.

July 22, 2013: Charles becomes a grandfather after the birth of William and Kate’s son, Prince George. Princess Charlotte follows in 2015, then Prince Louis, in 2018.

May 19, 2018: Charles walks Meghan Markle down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, as she marries his youngest son, Prince Harry.

November 14: Charles turns 70.

Later years

May 6, 2019: Charles becomes a grandfather again, as Meghan gives birth to Archie. Lilibet Diana follows in 2021.

March 7, 2021: Harry hits out at his father in a television interview from the United States, where he moved after quitting royal life in 2020.

He accuses Charles of being suffocated by tradition and of cutting him off financially after the move, although royal officials later maintain he “allocated a substantial sum” to the couple to help them with the transition.

November 30, 2021: Charles attends a ceremony in Barbados as the Caribbean islandbecomes a republic.

June 2022: Charles’ role as future monarch becomes increasingly prominent as he deputises for the ailing queen at several of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

September 8 2022: The queen dies in Balmoral, Scotland at the age of 96. Charles ascends to the throne, becoming King Charles III, and his wife Camilla is named queen consort.

Elizabeth II: Queen Of The World

This file photo taken on June 5, 2022, shows the Queen. (Photo by Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP)

 

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was not just Queen Elizabeth II. She was simply The Queen.

For billions of people, she was the one constant in a world of bewildering change, an omnipresent matriarch linking the past with the present.

While the enormous British Empire she once presided over shrank, her symbolic influence only seemed to grow, her mystique bolstered by films like “The Queen” and the Netflix series “The Crown”.

Against the tide of history and logic, she made a medieval anachronism somehow modern, a stoic old lady in a hat onto whom so much could be projected.

Perhaps only the pope held as much sway, and she saw seven of them come and go during her record-breaking seven-decade reign.

Accident of history

Although Elizabeth Windsor became the very definition of the word, she was not born to be queen.

An accident of history brought her to the throne.

Until her “Uncle David” — Edward VIII — abdicated to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson in 1936, she had only an outside chance of reigning.

Even as heir apparent, the birth of a baby brother would have sent her back into relative aristocratic obscurity under succession laws in place at the time that gave precedence to males.

All changed for “Lilibet” when she was 10 and her reluctant, stammering father became George VI.


READ ALSO: Britain’s New King Is Officially Charles III – Royal Aides


Until the “shock” of the abdication, she had been brought up exactly like her more outgoing younger sister Margaret. The two were often dressed like twins.

Her tough-minded mother, also called Elizabeth, was her emotional lodestar. She made sure the girls had an “insulated and care-free childhood” in contrast to the suffocating Palace strictures their father suffered.

Nevertheless, she learned duty early.

“Princess Elizabeth was quite a good tap dancer and mimic and could be very funny when she wanted to be,” said royal biographer Andrew Morton, whose study of her close but often strained relationship with Margaret appeared in 2021.

And she “could be depended upon to do what was asked, keeping her toys and clothes in perfect order”.

In this file photo taken on May 11, 2021 Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II sits on the The Sovereign’s Throne in the House of Lords chamber during the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London on May 11, 2021, which is taking place with a reduced capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions. Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history and an icon instantly recognisable to billions of people around the world, has died aged 96, Buckingham Palace said on September 8, 2022. (Photo by Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP)

‘Magnificent isolation’

An introvert, she adapted easily to the “magnificent isolation” of royal life spent surrounded by scores of servants and courtiers.

The royal family — George VI, Queen Elizabeth, princess Elizabeth and princess Margaret — referred to themselves as “we four”, Morton said, and were close.

Yet as queen, Elizabeth looked more to her steely and stolid grandfather George V — a reformer who believed in leading by example.

Her biographer, Robert Lacey, told AFP that like him she saw the decline of the English class system, and wanted to establish a direct relationship with the people.

George V began the royal broadcasts, which the queen used to hone her own mix of mystery and intimacy, inviting television viewers into Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle for rather stilted fireside chats surrounded by photographs of her children, dogs and horses.

Young queen

Her coronation on June 2, 1953 was the first major event of the television age.

The news that morning of New Zealander Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Everest made the celebrations all the more giddy.

The Union Jack had been planted on the top of world, as Britain financed the expedition, alongside that of the United Nations and Nepal.

But for all the glamour of the young queen — then just 25 — and talk of a second Elizabethan age, Imperial Britain was in trouble.

India — the so-called “Jewel in the Crown” — had already gained independence in 1947.

Hard-won victory in World War II had left the country exhausted and virtually bankrupt, its cities bomb-scarred and rationing was in its 14th year.

The Suez Crisis in 1956 would deal Britain’s status as a world power a final shattering blow.

While the Tudor-era Elizabeth I in the 16th century oversaw the birth of England’s imperial project, Elizabeth II’s fate was to watch the flag come down on the biggest empire the world has ever seen.

The latest to go was Barbados, which cut ties with the British Crown after nearly four centuries in 2021.

Quiet reformer

Such a retreat would have carried other monarchies with it, but the queen was the embodiment of British stiff upper lip and its “keep calm and carry on” spirit.

She had already done her dynastic duty by giving birth to an “heir and a spare” — a successor and a younger sibling — by the time she was crowned.

With the ageing Winston Churchill — the first of 15 British prime ministers to serve under her — at her side, she began to slowly reinvent the institution.

Decades sidestepping diplomatic bear traps on never-ending royal tours and state visits made her a formidable operator.

Those skills have been “capital” in holding the Commonwealth of incredibly diverse mostly former British colonies together, Lacey insisted.

Despite crises and conflicts, it still counts 54 countries with a combined population of 2.57 billion people.

Princess in love

The queen was 13 when she fell for her 18-year-old third cousin Philip in 1939, then a dashing naval cadet preparing to go to war.

Her nanny noted that “she never took her eyes off him”. Letters were soon flying back and forth.

Despite the constant threat, the future queen experienced her greatest freedom during those teenage wartime years.

Relatively safe behind the thick walls of Windsor Castle, west of London, she became a volunteer driver and mechanic.

When victory was declared in 1945, the 19-year-old princess joined the crowds celebrating in central London along with her friends and her sister Margaret.

She later described it as “one of the most memorable nights of my life. I remember we were terrified of being recognised.”

Two years later, despite her mother’s reservations — the Queen Mother referred to plain-speaking Philip as “the Hun” because of his German wider family — she married the impecunious Danish-Greek prince.

She gave birth to Charles 11 months later and Anne followed in 1950. Andrew — said to be her favourite — arrived in 1960, with Edward born four years later.

The queen was a one-man woman, who “never looked at anyone else”, her cousin and confidant Margaret Rhodes said.

Philip’s marital fidelity was reportedly less sure, but his sense of duty was equally iron cast.

Their 73-year partnership, which lasted until his death in April 2021, was her “strength and stay”, the queen later confessed.

Both loved horses. The queen’s racing stables turned out some 1,700 winners, with the Racing Post occupying pride of place on her desk alongside state papers.

She only missed two Epsom Derbies in her entire reign.

Philip played polo into his 50s and raced carriages into his 90s. Fittingly both were obsessed with breeding.

On her highly sensitive royal visit to Ireland in 2011 — the first by a British royal since its independence — the queen met almost as many horses as people after asking to take in two famous stud farms.

Humanising the royals

Thoroughbreds can be difficult to handle. And this was also to prove true with members of the royal family, known as “The Firm”, who would become more visible than ever under Elizabeth’s reign.

The world got its first glimpse of their private lives in 1969 when BBC cameras were allowed around the Buckingham Palace breakfast table.

The documentary was part of a bid to “humanise” the monarchy masterminded by Philip’s uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, and the former viceroy of India’s son-in-law, film producer John Knatchbull, the seventh Baron Brabourne.

Since the beginning of her reign, the Palace had sought to portray the royals as a family like any other, a more well-born, well-appointed version of a modern British household.

But “Royal Family” lifted the veil further than ever before, revealing some surprising quirks — behind her shy and dutiful exterior, the queen was actually a rather racy driver.

Not for the last time, it was Prince Philip who delivered the biggest bombshell, telling viewers how the queen’s father King George VI would take out his rage on the rhododendrons.

“Sometimes I thought he was mad,” he deadpanned.

Critics, including Princess Anne — who called the film “rotten” — blamed it for opening the door to the tabloid voyeurism that would soon dog the clan.

Tabloid troubles

The queen’s rather unruly and resentful sister, Margaret, was first in the firing line, her colourful private life making her prime paparazzi material.

All the royals, apart from the “untouchable” queen herself and Prince Philip, would in time feel the swipe of the media’s double-edged sword.

Yet the queen seemed to float above it all, her life a carefully guarded secret.

Beyond her love of horses and rather snappy Corgi dogs, along with a fondness for crossword puzzles and a Dubonnet and gin cocktail before lunch, very little about her private life was known.

In later life she developed a fondness for television soap operas, and while self-isolating in Windsor during the coronavirus lockdown is said to have become a fan of the police corruption drama “Line of Duty”.

She even reportedly watched the upper-class period drama “Downton Abbey”.

In 2021, when she was forced to slow down because of ill health, The Times reported that late-night television had left her “knackered”.

She even stopped drinking her lunchtime gin and martini in the evening.

‘Annus horribilis’

For a time, there was much to celebrate in her children’s lives.

The “fairytale” marriage of Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 was a massive global media event, as was the wedding of Andrew to Sarah Ferguson five years later.

Yet the couples’ private lives would soon provide endless fodder for the voracious British tabloids.

Both marriages very publicly fell apart in 1992, as did Anne’s to Captain Mark Phillips. To top it all, Windsor Castle was badly damaged by fire.

The queen called it her “annus horribilis”.

In an effort to win back public support, she began paying tax and Buckingham Palace was opened to the public for the first time.

But the rancour between Charles and Diana became poisonous as they settled scores in rival TV interviews in what became known as the “War of the Waleses”.

And then the unimaginable happened. Diana’s tragic end in a car crash in Paris in 1997 not only shook confidence in the monarchy, but in the queen herself.

Diana

A series of missteps in the days after her daughter-in-law’s death left the queen looking cold, uncaring and out of touch.

“Show us you care,” said one newspaper front page after the queen opted to stay in her Scottish summer retreat of Balmoral rather return to London.

“Speak to us Ma’am,” headlined another, in criticism that would have been unthinkable only a few years before.

And her decision to strip the so-called “People’s Princess” of her royal status in the wake of Diana’s bombshell 1995 BBC interview came back to haunt the monarch.

But through it all, the queen kept her counsel, sticking doggedly to the royals’ reputed mantra of “never complain, never explain”.

It may have helped maintain the institution’s mystique in past but here it badly backfired.

A major Palace overhaul followed.

Help in restoring faith in the monarch was to come from an unlikely source — the self-confessed “old republican left-winger” Stephen Frears.

His Oscar-winning 2008 movie “The Queen”, set against the backdrop of the Diana crisis, did much to explain her position and rewrite the narrative.

Helen Mirren — another republican — won an Oscar for her moving portrayal of the queen’s struggle between duty and family, winning her sympathy even from people who had little time for the monarchy.

The problem with Charles

Rehabilitating Charles would be trickier. As early as 1977, during her Silver Jubilee marking 25 years on the throne, the queen had vowed to rule until her death.

While this promised stability, it also seemed to undermine the Prince of Wales, whom some saw as unfit to follow her.

His buttonholing of politicians over his hobby horse causes seemed to challenge the unwritten rule that the royals stay out of politics.

However, as many of his once “fringe” ideas, such as on the environment, became mainstream, Charles has shown a more relaxed, self-deprecating side, particularly after his 2005 marriage to his lifelong lover Camilla.

With his mother in her 90s, he began to take over her duties as the most senior royal on overseas trips.

Family

Despite the consolation of grandchildren and great grandchildren in the twilight of her reign, her greatest headaches continued to come from within her own family.

Now the longest serving British monarch ever, the marriages of both of her grandsons William and Harry to commoners seemed to offer another phase of modernisation and renewal.

However, within three years of Harry’s mould-breaking marriage to the mixed-race American actress Meghan Markle in 2018, a rift with the Palace became horribly public.

A month after allegations of racism within the family were raised in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey, Philip died aged 99 in April 2021, leaving her ever more alone.

With Andrew also mired in underage sex allegations over links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, it was another “annus horribilis”.

Last of her kind?

Yet the monarch herself remained hugely popular and admired, an embodiment of traditional values and all that seemed eternal about England.

In his book on her and her sister, Morton recounts how Margaret burst in on the queen’s weekly audience with the prime minister early in her reign.

“If you weren’t queen, nobody would talk to you,” Margaret fumed, angry at being left out.

Time and again since, Elizabeth proved the contrary, that she was infinitely worthy — the first and perhaps the “last global monarch”, as the New York Times put it in 2021.

The unknowable mystique she cultivated in a world ever more demanding of transparency may well die with her.

White House, UN Chief… Tributes Pour In For Queen Elizabeth

In this file photo taken on June 28, 2022, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II waves as she attends an Armed Forces Act of Loyalty Parade at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

 

World leaders paid homage to Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday after she died aged 96 in her Scottish summer residence following nearly a year of ailing health.

Here are some of the tributes to Britain’s longest-serving monarch, who is also head of state in 14 Commonwealth countries around the world:

‘Grace, dignity, and dedication’ 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Queen Elizabeth had been “widely admired”.

“As the United Kingdom’s longest-lived and longest-reigning head of state, Queen Elizabeth II was widely admired for her grace, dignity and dedication around the world. She was a reassuring presence throughout decades of sweeping change,” Guterres said.

 ‘Hearts and thoughts’ 

The White House expressed its deep sympathies, noting she was the leader of one of the United States’ strongest allies.

“Our hearts and our thoughts go to the family members of the queen (and) to the people of the United Kingdom,” said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre, minutes after the death of the sovereign was announced.

‘Elizabeth the Steadfast’ 

EU leaders expressed regret at the death of the queen, who was head of state throughout Britain’s entire EU membership and eventual departure.

“Once called ‘Elizabeth the Steadfast’, she never failed to show us the importance of lasting values in a modern world with her service and commitment,” EU council president Charles Michel tweeted.

 ‘Remarkable friend’ 

Ireland’s President Michael Higgins called Queen Elizabeth II “a remarkable friend” who had “great impact on the bonds of mutual understanding between our two peoples”.

“As we offer our condolences to all our neighbours in the United Kingdom, following the loss of a remarkable friend of Ireland, we remember the role Queen Elizabeth played in celebrating the warm and enduring friendship” between both countries, he said.

 ‘Inspiring leadership’ 

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “pained” by her death.

The monarch of India’s former colonial power had “provided inspiring leadership to her nation and people”, Modi tweeted, adding she “personified dignity and decency in public life”.

‘Marked her century’

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed Queen Elizabeth II as “a friend of France… who marked her country and her century as never before”.

“Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II embodied continuity and unity in the British nation for more than 70 years,” the French leader tweeted.

‘Balance and wisdom’ 

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the “beloved” monarch represented the UK and the Commonwealth with “balance and wisdom”.

“She guaranteed stability in moments of crisis and kept alive the value of tradition in a society in constant and profound evolution. Her spirit of service, her dedication… the deep dignity with which she held office for such a long time have been a constant source of admiration for generations,” he said.

– ‘Stability and humour’ –
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said earlier on Thursday, before the news of her death, that the queen was in his prayers.

“She has lived through so many important moments in the Western world… and has done so with calm, stability and humour,” he said, according to the ANP news agency.

AFP

Barbados To Become A Republic, Replacing British Queen

In this file photo taken on July 8, 2021 Queen Elizabeth II visits Manchester Cathedral in Manchester, northwest England.  Christopher Furlong / POOL / AFP

 

Barbados is about to cut ties with the British monarchy, but the legacy of a sometimes brutal colonial past and the pandemic’s impact on tourism pose major challenges for the Caribbean island as it becomes the world’s newest republic.

Famed for its beaches and love of cricket, Barbados will this week replace its head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, with her current representative, Governor-General Sandra Mason.

Ceremonies on Monday evening into Tuesday will include military parades and celebrations as Mason is inaugurated as president, with Prince Charles — heir to the British throne — looking on.

The dawn of a new era has fueled debate among the population of 285,000 over Britain’s centuries of influence, including more than 200 years of slavery until 1834, and Barbados finally becoming independent in 1966.

“As a young girl, when I heard about the queen, I would be really excited,” said Sharon Bellamy-Thompson, 50, a fish vendor in the capital Bridgetown who remembers being about eight and seeing the monarch on a visit.

“As I grow older and older, I started to wonder what this queen really means for me and for my nation. It didn’t make any sense,” she said. “Having a female Barbadian president will be great.”

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Colonialism and slavery 

For young activists such as Firhaana Bulbulia, founder of the Barbados Muslim Association, British colonialism and slavery lie behind the island’s modern inequalities.

“The wealth gap, the ability to own land, and even access to loans from banks all have a lot to do with structures built out of being ruled by Britain,” Bulbulia, 26, said.

“The actual chains (of slavery) were broken and we no longer wore them, but the mental chains continue to persist in our mindsets.”

In October, Barbados elected Mason to become its first president, one year after Prime Minister Mia Mottley declared that the country would “fully” leave its colonial past.

But some Barbadians argue there are more pressing national issues, including economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exposed overreliance on tourism — which, ironically, is dependent on British visitors.

Eerie calm in usually bustling Bridgetown, paltry numbers at popular tourist spots, and a dead nightlife scene all point to a country struggling after years of relative prosperity.

Unemployment is at nearly 16 percent, up from nine percent in recent years, despite sharply increased government borrowing to fund public sector projects and create jobs.

The country has just eased a longstanding Covid curfew, pushing it back from 9:00 pm to midnight.

Opposition leader Bishop Joseph Atherley said this week’s celebrations among dignitaries would largely not be accessible to ordinary people.

“I just don’t think we are doing ourselves a credit and a just service by having this when people are being admonished to sit in the comfort of your home and watch on a screen,” Atherley said.

“Increasing numbers of Covid cases, an increasing sense of stress and fear — I just don’t think that it is the right time.”

‘Stand on our own feet’ 

Some criticism has also focused on Mottley inviting Prince Charles to be the guest of honor, and to award him the Order of Freedom of Barbados, the highest national honor.

“The British royal family is a source of exploitation in this region and, as yet, they have not offered a formal apology or any kind of repair for past harms,” said Kristina Hinds, international relations lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Barbados.

“So I don’t see how someone from the family can be given this award. That is beyond me.”

Buoyed by Black Lives Matter movements across the world, local activists last year successfully advocated for the removal of a statue of the British Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson that stood in National Heroes Square for two centuries.

And the end of the queen’s reign is seen by some as a necessary step towards financial reparations to address the historic consequences of the use of slaves brought from Africa to work on sugar plantations.

For many Barbadians, replacing the British queen is just catching up with how the nation has felt for many years.

“I think it’s a very good thing we’re doing, becoming a republic because we were independent 55 years now and it’s time enough that we stand on our own feet,” said Derry Bailey, 33, owner of a beach chair and water sports rental business.

“I expect that things will be better under this system. It makes no sense being independent and answering to the crown. So I really believe that being a republic is the way to go.”

AFP