Crowds have cheered for King Charles III in Wales despite some opposition to his ascent to the throne as the new monarch wrapped up his tour of the four nations of the United Kingdom.
A large crowd chanted “God save the king” on Friday as Charles shook hands with the public following a multi-faith service in Cardiff’s Llandaff Cathedral on what is the last of his visits to the UK’s four nations.
Charles then attended the Welsh Parliament to receive politicians’ condolences following the death on September 8 of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96.
In a speech alternating between English and Welsh, he promised to follow the “selfless example” of the UK’s longest-serving monarch.
Outside his next stop at Cardiff Castle, a few protesters held up banners declaring “Abolish the monarchy”, “Citizen not subject” and “Democracy now”.
At Westminster Abbey in London on Monday morning, the queen will be honored with the UK’s first state funeral in nearly 60 years, with more than 2,000 guests expected.
After the televised service, the coffin will be transferred by royal hearse to Windsor Castle, west of London, for a family-only burial in which the queen will be laid to rest alongside her late husband Philip, parents and sister.
US President Joe Biden, Australian leader Anthony Albanese, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron have all confirmed their attendance at the funeral, as have Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and numerous other royals.
“The queen held a unique and timeless position in all our lives,” said Duke of Norfolk Edward Fitzalan-Howard, also known as the earl marshal, who is organizing the funeral.
“The next few days will unite people across the globe and resonate with people of all faiths, whilst fulfilling her majesty and her family’s wishes to pay a fitting tribute to an extraordinary reign,” he told reporters.
Police are mounting the UK’s biggest-ever security operation in the run-up to the funeral, as crowds file past the queen’s coffin round the clock all weekend and global dignitaries jet in.
On Friday morning, two police officers were stabbed in central London, one suffering “life-changing” injuries, the Metropolitan Police said, but it ruled out any link to “terrorism”.
Meanwhile, an official delegation from China has been banned from attending the lying-in-state following an intervention by House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, parliamentary sources said.
It comes after China sanctioned several British lawmakers over their criticism of the country’s human rights record.
“As the hosts, the British side should uphold both diplomatic courtesy and gracious hospitality,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters in Beijing.
Downing Street refused to comment.
The line to enter the vast Westminster Hall, where Elizabeth’s coffin has been lying in state since late Wednesday has attracted an endless stream of mourners. On Friday, the government said those at the end faced a wait of at least 14 hours.
The coffin is draped in the Royal Standard flag, with the Imperial State Crown, her ceremonial Orb and Scepter on top, with tall, flickering candles at each corner.
The sombre atmosphere is completed with guards in ceremonial uniform posted around the podium in a constant vigil.
Mourners marked their moment in front of the coffin in various ways, from bows or curtsies to the sign of the cross or by simply removing their hats.
Some wiped away tears. Others brought infants in pushchairs. Old soldiers stopped and gave one last salute to their former commander-in-chief.
Meanwhile, in Cardiff, many had waited for hours before Charles’s visit.
“Something like this won’t happen again,” said barman Jack Grimshaw, 27, who turned out with his young son.
“The royal family has been around for so many years [but] we didn’t have a new king for so long.”
Not everyone was happy to see the new monarch in Wales. Zahra Ameri, 22, said the funeral was a “waste of money”.
“I’m hoping that Wales becomes independent. Of course, it would be a disturbance in our economy because we do rely on the UK, but I strongly believe in independence,” she said.