Britain and the world are laying Queen Elizabeth II to rest on Monday at a state funeral that is drawing presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers — and up to a million people lining the streets of London to say a final goodbye to a monarch whose 70-year reign defined an age.

A day packed with funeral events in London and Windsor began early when the doors of 900-year-old Westminster Hall were closed to mourners after hundreds of thousands had filed in front of her flag-draped coffin. Many had waited for hours in line, including through cold nights, to see the lying in state in an outpouring of collective grief and respect.

“I felt like I had to come and pay my final respects to our majestic queen. She has done so much for us and just a little thank you really from the people,” said Tracy Dobson, who was among the last to join the line.

In a country known for pomp and pageantry, the first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s promised to be a spectacular display: 142 Royal Navy sailors drew the gun carriage carrying Elizabeth’s coffin to Westminster Abbey, with King Charles III and his sons Princes William and Harry walking behind as pipers played. At the Abbey, around 2,000 people ranging from world leaders to health care workers and volunteers have gathered to mourn her. One of the Abbey’s bells tolled 96 times — once a minute for each year of her life.

Monday has been declared a public holiday in honor of Elizabeth, who died Sept. 8 — and hundreds of thousands of people descended on central London to partake in the historic moment. Long before the service was set to begin, city authorities said viewing areas along the route of the funeral’s procession were full.

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Millions more are expected to tune into the funeral live on television, and crowds are flocking to parks and public spaces across the U.K. to watch it on screens.

On the evening before, Charles issued a message of thanks to people in the U.K. and around the world, saying he and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, have been “moved beyond measure” by the large numbers of people who have turned out to pay their respects to the queen.

“As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my family and myself in this time of grief,” he said.

Following the funeral in the medieval abbey where Elizabeth was married and crowned, her coffin — ringed by units of the armed forces in dress uniforms and members of her family — will be brought through the capital’s streets to Wellington Arch near Hyde Park.

There, it will be placed in a hearse to be driven to Windsor Castle — where Elizabeth spent much of her time — for another procession before a committal service in …read more

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