Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese will depart today to represent the nation at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London on Monday.
A quarter of the 2,000 places at Westminster Abbey have been reserved for heads of state and their partners, with Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron and Naruhito, the emperor of Japan, the best-known guests confirmed as coming from abroad.
At the request of the late Queen, 10 “everyday” Australian citizens are also invited to attend including Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott, senior Australians of the Year from this year and last and the Australian Racing Hall of Fame’s Chris Waller.
Horse trainers Gai and Robbie Waterhouse – who trained some of the Queen’s horses – have also been separately invited by Buckingham Palace, while Victoria cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith, a former soldier who is engaged in a defamation case over reports that he alleges wrongly portrayed him as a war criminal and murderer, has also accepted an invitation to attend.
According to government tracker, the queue to enter Westminster Hall is approximately 2 miles long approaching 6.30am on Thursday morning, stretching back to Blackfriars Bridge as thousands wait to pay their respects.
It’s down a little from yesterday evening, when it reached a peak of around 2.9 miles. The infrastructure put in place along the route allows for a peak length of up to 10 miles.
Some people camped overnight ahead of the Queen’s lying-in-state to make sure they got a chance to pay their respects.
Hundreds of thousands of mourners are expected to pass through in coming days.
There’s been concern overnight for the health of a royal guard who fell down while watching over the Queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall. The guard was standing at the foot of the late monarch’s casket when he suddenly fell forward and to the floor.
Footage taken from a live broadcast which was posted to social media at around 1am captured the fall. The black-clad guard had been standing holding a ceremonial staff. Nearby officials quickly rushing to his aid. Live footage faded to exterior, night-time vision of the building for a while afterwards.
Guards from units which include the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, the Household Division or Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London are required to remain completely still at the four corners of the catafalque. While the soldiers rotate their positions every 20 minutes, the hours of remaining completely still while standing are six hours in length.
Good morning as the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II begins its first full day of lying in state at Westminster Hall in London. Here is a summary of events preceding this morning.
Westminster Hall was opened on Wednesday evening to allow the public to pay their respects to the Queen. King Charles III earlier led a procession that took the Queen’s coffin to Westminster Hall from Buckingham Palace.
A vigil held at the hall and attended by other senior royals as well as leaders from political parties.
The Queen will lie in state until 6.30am on Monday, when the coffin will be taken to nearby Westminster Abbey for the funeral.
Mourners have been warned the queue to pay their respects to the Queen could last as long as 30 hours. The queue has been stretching for more than two miles across Lambeth Bridge and up the South Bank towards London Bridge.
At least two people were treated by paramedics after collapsing in the heat while standing in the queue.
People have described their emotions at saying goodbye to the Queen. “I saw the coronation, and the Queen has been with me my whole life. It’s very sad,” one woman told us.
Almost two-thirds of people think Britain will change as a result of the Queen’s death, according to a YouGov poll.
Joe Biden has offered his condolences to the King, telling him that the Queen’s “dignity and constancy” helped strength the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. The King also spoke to France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, the president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, and the governors general of Australia, Canada and Jamaica, who all expressed their sympathy.
The Foreign Office has continued to prune the guest list for the Queen’s funeral, adding Syria and Venezuela to the list of countries not invited. India’s president will represent his country at the Queen’s funeral on Monday, meaning the prime minister, Narendra Modi, is not expected to be among the hundreds of foreign leaders due to attend.