It’s no longer a funeral, it’s a kind of gigantic parade. Of the horse guards in full dress, banners hung from the trees, the heartbreaking and joyful music of the bagpipes, and these symbols of power, crown, scepter and orb in gold, placed on a coffin covered with the royal standard of red silk woven with golden lions… Roman triumphs in the time of the ancients must have resembled that long and astonishing procession through the streets of London, among a crowd throwing flowers. Something both spectacular, anachronistic and splendidly pompous.
The face of Elizabeth II is still everywhere, in the windows of shops closed for the occasion, but after ten days of national mourning, the emotion of the British has given way to a sort of joy at being at this moment of national fellowship.
The weather’s nice. Friends spent the night in small tents, pitched along the route that leads from Buckingham to Westminster, so as not to miss anything of the procession, this Monday, September 19. And it is still an additional astonishment to see this crowd where jeans, jogging and dressthis black suit whose somewhat long jacket dresses men in mourning.
On the forecourt of Westminster Abbey, the cameras and telephoto lenses of the photographers capture the most prestigious guests who arrive, almost an hour before the start of the funeral mass. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has all white hair now, he who seemed so sprightly at 10 Downing Street in the late 1990s. his wife, Jill, preceded the Europeans by a few seconds. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, and Irish Prime Minister Michael Marti.
And, of course, Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron, wearing a hat with a black veil. The BBC repeats the words of the french president on “the warm friendship of France” towards the Queen and the British. The day before, the Macrons, in jeans and sneakers, had discreetly strolled through London, struck by the extent of the preparations for this exceptional funeral.
Now arrive the leaders of the fifty-six member countries of the Commonwealth: the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Australian counterpart, Anthony Albanese, the Indian and Sri Lankan presidents, the leader of the government of Bangladesh.
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