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Thursday February 2nd, 2023 7:21AM

Live updates: Royal watchers stake out positions for funeral

By The Associated Press
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While thousands of mourners line up along the River Thames to pay their last respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II, others are already staking out prime viewing locations in the heart of London for the late monarch’s funeral on Monday.

Shirin Thorpe, 62, from Sevenoaks south of the English capital, arrived Thursday and was camped out Saturday near Westminster subway station. It's near the historic hall where the queen is lying in state and Westminster Abbey, where her funeral will be held.

She says, “There’s going to be millions of people here and we didn’t want to miss the chance.”

Thorpe and her friends are well prepared for a few nights of camping amid cold temperatures: They’ve brought inflatable mattresses, sleeping bags, winter coats and battery packs to keep gadgets running. They have hung Union Jack flags from security barriers and added a photograph of Elizabeth.

While the sun was shining Saturday, Thorpe says she’s ready to brave worse weather should it come.

She says, “We’re tough women like the Queen.”

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

— Thousands wait in cold to view queen and get visit from king

— Once home to a princess, Malta remembers the queen

— Crowds paying respects to queen boost London tourism amid slump

— Queen's death triggers media bonanza at work for decades

— In Yemen, queen's death recalls oppression under British colonial rule

— Palace reveals details of queen’s state funeral on Monday

— Find more AP coverage here: https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

LONDON — King Charles III is making an unannounced visit to greet people waiting to file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Charles and his son, Prince William, shook hands and thanked mourners in the miles-long queue near Lambeth Bridge on Saturday.

Charles has made several impromptu walkabouts since he became king on Sept. 8, in an attempt to meet as many of his subjects as possible.

Thousands of people are lining up to see the queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall, despite waiting times of 16 hours or more.

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LONDON — King Charles III is spending much of the day meeting dignitaries who have arrived in London for his mother’s funeral on Monday.

On Saturday morning, he held an audience at Buckingham Palace with the country’s military chiefs, who have provided thousands of armed forces personnel to take part in the pageantry surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral as well as helping line crowd-packed roads and performing other ceremonial duties.

In the early afternoon, the king was holding a reception for Governors General of the Realms – the monarch’s representatives in the U.K.’s former colonies ranging from Antigua and Barbuda to Tuvalu.

And later in the day, Charles was meeting prime ministers including Justin Trudeau of Canada, Anthony Albanese of Australia, Philip Davis of the Bahamas, Andrew Holness of Jamaica and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.

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WINDSOR, England -- Hundreds of troops from the British army, air force and navy have taken part in the first full rehearsal of the procession that will bring the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II to its final resting place.

With troops lining The Long Walk, a picturesque path leading to Windsor Castle, the thumping of drums echoed as marching bands walked ahead of a hearse early Saturday.

On Monday, they will do the same, only surrounded by thousands of people expected to travel to Windsor for a final farewell to the queen, who died last week at age 96.

Her funeral is to be held at Westminster Abbey on Monday before some 2,000 guests, including visiting heads of state. After the church service, the late queen’s coffin will be transported through the historic heart of London on a horse-drawn gun carriage.

It will then be taken by hearse to Windsor, where the queen will be interred alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.

Some people who won’t be in Windsor on Monday decided to wake up early to watch Saturday’s rehearsal.

Local resident Katharine Horsfall said she set her alarm for 3:15 a.m. She said: “I think it will be an amazing tribute to the queen, a great send off, with all the pageantry that she so well deserves.”

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BEIJING — China announced Saturday that Vice President Wang Qishan would attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II as the special representative of President Xi Jinping.

A group of British legislators sanctioned by China have expressed concern that the Chinese government has been invited to the funeral. One told the BBC the invitation should be rescinded because of human rights abuses in the treatment of the Uyghur ethnic group in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang.

Wang, who is close to Xi, was a member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful, seven-member Politburo Standing Committee from 2012 to 2017. During those years, he led a crackdown on corruption that has been one of Xi’s signature initiatives as China’s leader.

Wang was named to the largely ceremonial post of vice president in 2018 and often attends events on Xi’s behalf.

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TOKYO — Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako left for Britain on Saturday to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral to pay respects to her and the British royal family who considered as a model for Japan’s monarchy in modern history.

The decision for the emperor and empress to attend the queen’s funeral underscores the importance and the deep bond between the royal families. Traditionally, a Japanese emperor stays away from funerals except for those of their own parents because of a cultural belief based in the Shinto religion that considers death impure.

Former Emperor Akihito, as crown prince, attended the Queen’s 1953 coronation and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Queen Elizabeth visited Japan in 1975.

Naruhito and Masako’s trip to Britain is their first as the Emperor and Empress. The Queen’s invitation for them to visit following Naruhito’s 2019 ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

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LONDON — King Charles III and his three siblings have stood vigil around their mother’s coffin as it lies in state at Westminster Hall in London.

Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward stood with their backs to the flag-draped coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, their heads bowed.

Members of the public who had lined up for hours to pay their last respects continued to file past as the royals stood vigil in the historic event.

On Saturday, the queen’s eight grandchildren will hold a similar vigil.

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