Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Queen Elizabeth Will be Laid to Rest; High-profile People Present in Queen's Funeral; Security Officials in Full Alert. Aired 3- 4a ET

Aired September 19, 2022 - 03:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Becky Anderson in London, where it is just after 8 a.m. at the hour. At this hour, the doors of Westminster Abbey will be opening ahead of the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth. Up to 2000 people expected to attend today's service with the general congregation being the first to be seated.

Well, the Abbey's tenor bell will toll once a minute for 96 minutes to represent each year of the Queen's life before the funeral begins. The public viewing of the Queen's coffin ended just over an hour ago at Westminster Hall. Over the last four days, thousands who have waited for hours in line stretching several miles long just to pay their respect.

Also paying tribute U.S. President Joe Biden. He among the world's leaders in London to pay their respects to the queen.

Well, here's how events will unfold this morning here in London. The Queen's coffin will leave Westminster Hall carried on a state gun carriage. The same one used in Queen Elizabeth's father, George VI's funeral. She will be taken to Westminster Abbey where a funeral service will be held attended, as I say, by 2,000 people including world leaders and other dignitaries.

And after that service, the procession will leave Westminster Abbey winding its way through London, passing Downing Street, going up the mile to Bucking Palace and Wellington Arch, where some members of the royal family will follow on foot.

And from Wellington Arch, the Queen's coffin will be transferred to the state hearse and driven about 40 kilometers to Windsor to the west of London. That state hearse will then make its way up what's known as the long walk and through Windsor Castle where the king and other royals will join the procession on foot. The Queen's journey ending at George's chapel there.

Well, here in London, after a service, the Queen's coffin will be lowered into the royal vault. A private burial service will be held for the family later in the day. The queen will be buried next to her husband of 73, Prince Philip.

CNN's Scott McLean joins us now here in London. And Scott, for the past four days you have been amongst what has been hundreds of thousands of people queuing in what's become known as the line of duty over hundreds of hours. That line has now finished. Westminster Hall is closed and you are outside the palace of Westminster. What are you seeing and what can we expect?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Becky. Yes, that's right. So, I'm amongst the crowd here. We're right across the -- we're right across the street from Westminster Hall. This is where the Queen's coffin or the Queen's body is lying in state. In just about an hour and a half ago or so the last people came out from the gates after filing past the Queen's coffin. And I actually managed to speak to the very last person in that queue that stretched on for miles and miles for hours and hours. And, here's what she told me.


MCLEAN: How does it feel to be the very last person who will file past the Queen's coffin?

UNKNOWN: Well, I've actually been through once already a quarter past one, and I don't want anybody else to miss it. And so, I thought, well, I wanted to go around again, but obviously didn't want to stop somebody else going through. So, I was quite happy to be the end of the queue.

MCLEAN: Wait, you've been past already?

UNKNOWN: Yes. I went to pass the quarter past one.

MCLEAN: How long did you have to wait in the queue for?

UNKNOWN: It was eight and a half hours.

MCLEAN: And you thought, let's do this again?



UNKNOWN: Because it was just so quick. And given it, hopefully I was hoping I'd get the opportunity to go around again, but obviously I didn't want somebody else who hadn't been in to miss it. And I just thought it was a, I wanted to do it again.



MCLEAN: Yes. And we spoke to her afterwards as well. And, she seemed quite moved by the experience as well as the other woman that she was with, whom she met in the line was also quite emotional. So, the people who are waiting here now, Becky lining the road, there's six, eight, nine people deep depending on which spot you're at, they are waiting for the Queen's coffin to get any glimpse of the hearse as it proceeds to Westminster Abbey, and then proceeds to Wellington Arch later on.

And I just want to speak to one person really quickly that I've been -- that I met here earlier. This is Edith Macauley. She was awarded an MBE by the queen. I think about it a decade ago. So, you've met her on two --


MCLEAN: In 2012. So, you've met her now on two occasions and I wonder what -- what that experience was like.

MACAULEY: It was absolutely wonderful. I was humbled. I felt as if you know, it was a great day for me. I think it was the best day in my life. And the queen was very kind. She asked me a few questions and she thanked me for all the work I've done over the years.

MCLEAN: Yes. And Edith was the former mayor of Wimbledon in Southwest London now a local counselor in the area. And I wonder, ma'am, I spotted you in the crowd because you're the best dressed person here by a country mile. And I just wondered why it was so, so important for you to be here.

MACAULEY: It was important for me to be here because I felt I had a duty for her majesty. She has served our nation and our Commonwealth for over 70 years and I feel that it was appropriate for me to be here today to pay my last respect.

MCLEAN: What does the queen mean to you personally? I mean, what does she represent for your country?

MACAULEY: Well, she represents, you know, like stability, you know, fairness, equality for both the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. And I feel that over the years, she's done a great job and all of us who are here today, we deserve to pay our last respect to her.

MCLEAN: And obviously you recognize it'll be a few hours before you see anything here, but it seems like it's well worth the wait for you.

MACAULEY: Absolutely. It doesn't matter whether it's four or five hours, you know, it's worth my while. Seventy years is a long time that she's given public service to our nation.

MCLEAN: Thank you for talking to us and thank you for your public service as well, ma'am. So, this is just sort of a taste of, you know, the people that we're -- we're meeting here in line, Becky. There's a real sense of anticipation here in the line, if you could definitely sense the same -- sense of anticipation, but there was also a bit of a, I would describe it maybe as a national bonding experience, a real sense of camaraderie for the people in the line.

Virtually everyone that we spoke to, everyone I think I can say comfortably that we spoke to said that they definitely made friends with the people around them in the line, because obviously standing there for 10, 12, 14 hours, you really have no choice, but it obviously helped them pass the time past the very many long hours as they bonded over their really, mutual and shared admiration of the queen.

ANDERSON: Scott McLean is in parliament square. Thank you. With the palace of Westminster behind him to his left is Westminster Abbey. And let's just bring up the images that we are getting from there because the general congregation is beginning to gather inside Westminster Abbey. The doors open some five or six minutes ago.

There will be as many as 2,000 people in the Abbey for the funeral service, which begins at 11 o'clock local time. So just under three hours from now. Expect to see the heads of state from countries around the world. About 20 minutes before that funeral service begins.

As I say at the moment, this is the general congregation who are beginning to gather, and that is, you know, people who've been invited who've, given service to the country, heads of charities, people from faith leaders and people from the church. So, this Westminster Abbey, and you can see, I mean, for a city that would normally be extremely busy on the roads at this time on a Monday morning. This is a bank holiday. This is a holiday in honor of the queen. It's busy, but it's busy on foot.

As Scott has been suggesting he's in amongst the crowds there just outside Westminster Abbey. And there's a silence to this city, a city that I've grown up in and I've never, ever known anything like this. It's busy, but it's quiet.

Let's look at the queen's itinerary for after this funeral service and the funeral service will take about 45 minutes to an hour. The procession will leave Westminster Abbey taking a route through Central London to what's known as Wellington Arch hear Hyde Park corner. Members of the Royal family will be following the procession on foot.


Nina do Santos is outside Buckingham Palace, which is very close to there. And Nina we've been talking throughout the morning about the history of this occasion. It's an enormous day for London, and a lot going into the planning of this. Just tell us what you know from your perspective there.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's also an enormous day. Presumably for the people behind me here inside Buckingham Palace, the royal standard is actually flying above Buckingham Palace, meaning that the king is in residence at the moment. And he and his family will be departing from Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, his own official residence at the moment in about two and a half hours from now.

So that is where we'll start to see the motorcades exiting the gates here of Buckingham Palace. And that is why you can see all these crowds have now finally been allowed to gather behind me. They were keeping this area corded off for some time, but eventually now they've allowed people to spill over from the Mall here into these barricaded regions behind me in Buckingham Palace. But I think we can also have a look at the size of the crowds in the Mall because that is the route that the royal family will take heading over to Westminster Abbey. Well, first of all, they'll go to of course, Westminster Hall where when the king will be present, her majesty's coffin will be removed from the catafalque. It'll be loaded onto that gun carriage. It'll be carried by 98 members of the Royal Navy over towards Westminster Abbey.

And then the funeral will begin and will also have that funeral procession then that will pass yet again right back here through Buckingham Palace before ending up at Wellington Arch, which is over there towards my left.

Now for people who are not able to line the streets and get into this very secure, restricted area at the moment, because remember the numbers are already sizable here. They will be able to look at the events on various ways. There will be large television screens in Hyde Park, which is right near Wellington Arch.

There'll be large television screens right around the country in various different cities and so on and so forth. And the Royal family also yesterday evening, directed people towards a YouTube channel that they could also watch these proceedings on. It's going to be probably the most televised and watched event in the world by people here firsthand who are in unprecedented numbers, Becky have taken to the trains, buses, planes, you name it to get to London to see this event firsthand. And of course, they'll obviously be tuning in as well.

And then as you said, you know, the security implications of this is a sizeable logistical challenge that this country has never actually faced before. You know, this is a very important time because in the last couple of weeks, we've had a new prime minister, a new sovereign, and also a new head of the biggest police force in the country, which has jurisdiction over crowd control, counter terrorism protection, and so on and so forth.

So, this is a logistical challenge that has not been seen on this size before. Having said that though, it has been in the planning for many decades and it will be meticulously choreographed from when things start to kick off in about two and a half hours' time. Becky?

ANDERSON: Nina dos Santos is outside Buckingham Palace. Nina, thank you.

Well, state funeral then for Queen Elizabeth II expected to have the United kingdom's biggest post-World War II security detail ever. Her funeral will be attended by more than 70 heads of government and heads of state from around the world, including presidents, prime, ministers, and royals.

On top of that, as many as two million people are expected to line the streets to see the Queen's casket as that procession, that Nina has been describing their travels through Central London. Officials aren't taking any chances. Domestic and foreign intelligence agencies are monitoring threats, snipers positioned on rooftops and surveillance drones will be hovering overhead. Ten thousand uniformed police officers will be on duty along with thousands more in plain clothes.

For more on the security, the logistics, I'm joined by Nick Aldworth, he's the former counter-terrorism national coordinator for the U.K.

It's good to have you here.

So, as Nina was suggesting, we've got a new head of the metro -- Metropolitan Police force, which is responsible for the jurisdiction of London who has described this as a massive challenge, but one that his force is ready for. And of course, when we talk about being ready for something, this has been in the planning for years and years, how long have you been aware of the plans?

NICK ALDWORTH, FORMER COUNTER-TERRORISM NATIONAL COORDINATOR FOR THE U.K: Well, I think Operation London Bridge as it's known sitting in a lever arch file on the shelf in my office probably more than 20 years ago, is to literally get it off and have to dust it off every year.


But you know what it shows that it's an organic plan. That's changed according to, you know, threats that the society faces, but also do you what, according to what the royal family would quite like, in terms of their own funeral plans too.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about some of the staggering numbers in terms of security that we are seeing here today.

ALDWORTH: Yes. Look, it's almost unprecedented and I would say it is unprecedented in terms of the volumes and the compressed period and small geographic areas taking place in. It's comparable to the Olympics, but the Olympics, you know, it's three weeks across half of the U.K. incredibly well planned because you knew how many tickets you'd sold for each event, when, where, and how.

Here, we're still not even sure how many people are going to attempt to turn up today. How many will line the route and therefore the Met police quite rightly have, you know, created this inverted iceberg with the greatest majority of those looking after the event, highly visible and available.

ANDERSON: Before today, of course, we've had four days of people queuing snaking along the river Thames upwards of six miles at one point queuing for some 24 hours at one point. There have been hundreds of thousands of people in that queue. The weather has been relatively kind. But that's a security issue as well. Isn't it? And that was successfully carried out that line of duty was sort of, you know, seamless.

ALDWORTH: Yes, you're right. And my view is it is those uncontrolled areas that present most risk, not just in terms of, you know, the high-end risks of terrorism but also petty crime and minor disorder that we have, actually seen a little bit of. But you look, it's gone spectacularly well, and, and I'd be the first to play -- to pay a tribute to not just the cops that have made that work but along that line, there have been stewards, security officers, all of whom are on minimum wage standing there themselves for 8, 10, 12 hours, making sure those people are looked after.

ANDERSON: Volunteers as well.

ALDWORTH: Of course.

ANDERSON: What types of crimes, what sort of challenges do the security forces face? And let's be clear, not only is it the metropolitan police, of course, but the military are involved in this as well.

ALDWORTH: Yes. So, look at the top end it's terrorism. There's no doubt about that. We sadly live in a society where we have a mobilized self-radicalized group of terrorists across a range of ideologies who prefer to use very low sophistication weapons against public crowds. They are almost invisible to the intelligence services radar, and that's why you've seen so many officers here.

The only way to deal with that is by immediate response, should it happen. But you know, most people who come to London today or have been here over the last few days will have seen nothing at all. There'll be a few extra bumps, slips and trips, because of the sheer numbers of people here. I saw one poor lady fall over yesterday and hurt herself. And there'll be a degree of petty crime that always is in capital cities, but London is no different to anywhere else.

And look, if anybody is going to pull this off, it's the Met Police and their colleagues in London.

ANDERSON: There are so many high-profile politicians, dignitaries, in the capital today, the president of the United States being one of them of course. How do security forces here work with other intelligence operations and forces from around the world?

ALDWORTH: So hugely collaborative and very regularly will be the short answer to that. So, there are VIP visits in and out of London every week, either transiting through or actually coming here for meetings. So quite often, these operational bodyguard teams who want a better expression, they know each other. They've probably got each other's numbers in their cell phones. So, on one level it works brilliantly.

But there is a team inside the foreign Commonwealth office who are there to actually organize these events. They're very well-rehearsed at it, very adept at it. All we're seeing this week, I had to say is probably a scale that has probably given them many sleepless nights, just in terms of the volumes of work, rather than the additional risk.

ANDERSON: Good to have you. Thank you very much, indeed.

ALDWORTH: You're welcome.

ANDERSON: Nick Aldworth there for you.

Well, the Queen's final journey will be one of the monarchies, will be two, one of the monarchy's oldest castles where people who have been camping out to witness what will be an historic procession, what will be live from Windsor in just a few minutes. Stay with us.



ANDERSON: Eight twenty-two in the morning in London. And you are looking at live pictures just out Westminster Abbey where the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II will soon be held. It's a scheduled to start at 11 in the morning today. We are less than three hours away than from the start of the funeral. Where as many as 2,000 people will bid a final farewell to the queen.

The general congregation is beginning to gather. And in about an hour and 20 minutes, we should see the world's leaders, dignitaries, gathering there at Westminster Abbey.

Well, after the funeral the Queen's coffin will be taken to Windsor for a committal service. That'll be a much more intimate service with just the Royal family past and present members of the Royal household and some personal staff.

CNN's Nada Bashir is in Windsor. That's just west of London with those details. You've been following all of this very closely. What's happening there and what can we expect later on this afternoon?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Becky, it's still very early in the morning but we're already starting to see people streaming through the town, waiting for that procession, which will take place later this afternoon as the Queen's coffin is carried to the St. George's Chapel, which is in Windsor Castle just behind me.

And just behind me actually on the castle walls along the grassy bank, people are being permitted to climb up to that hill and lay flowers along the castle walls. We've seen lots of people already gathering with camping chairs, blankets, ready for the long wait and it's pretty cold. And we've seen that over the last few days, of course in Central London.


But many people in this town, and of course, many people traveling into Windsor are taking this as an opportunity to witness a moment of history. This will be their final chance to pay their respects to the queen as she is laid to rest in Windsor.

And we've also heard from some of those who've been waiting over the early hours of the morning and overnight for this moment specifically. Take a listen.


THERESA YATES, HOSPITALITY WORKER: She's just been amazing for 70 years. And I'm 57 and it's all I've ever known. It's all a lot of people have ever known and she's just given up her whole life to, you know, dedicate to her, her country and she's just been fantastic and everyone is going to miss her. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Now as you mentioned, Becky, the service this morning at Westminster Abbey will be a grand state affair, but the service that will be held at St. George's Chapel behind me will be slightly more intimate and more personal.

Of course, we're expecting around 800 people to be in attendance, including members of the royal family, but also members of the royal household past and present and the queen's personal staff from across her estate. So, this will be a personal moment. There'll be nods to her family life. The hymn sung at her funeral will include hymn sung at the funeral of her late husband, Prince Philip.

And of course, there will be prayers as well, mirroring that that was reflected in her father's own funeral. This is an estate that is deeply loved by the queen. It's where she spent much of her time in her last few days.

ANDERSON: An historic day in Windsor, and historic momentous day in London. Nada, thank you for that. Still to come, my one-on-one interview with Queen Rania of Jordan. She pays tribute to the late monarch and reflects on her contributions made across the globe.

Plus, King Charles will be ushering in a new royal era, my guests and I take a look at the relevance of the British monarchy in modern life. That coming up after this.



ANDERSON: It is just before half past eight in the morning here. Westminster Abbey has opened its doors to the General Congregation for Queen Elizabeth's state funeral.

Just quick, fast fact about the Abbey. It was founded in the year 1960 by Benedictine monks and it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in London.

These are live images of the Abbey not far from where we are here. The ceremony will be steeped in royal to decision and will honor her majesty's legacy.

And here is how this will all play out in the next couple of hours. In about two hours' time, her coffin will move from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey. That's really just across the road, across Parliament Square. Then the funeral service will get underway at 11 a.m. Afterwards, the procession will set up to Wellington Arch as it is known with royal family members following on foot. Later, the coffin will move to a state hearse and a procession will continue to Windsor.

More here in London. I had the opportunity earlier to speak to Queen Rania of Jordan about the remarkable life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II. She says that the late monarch was symbolically the queen of the world. Here is our conversation.


QUEEN RANIA AL ABDULLAH, QUEEN OF JORDAN: The first time I met the queen, I think I was just a few months into my role. And she was quite sensitive to the fact that I was new, and she could tell that, you know, I wasn't too sure of myself. And I did ask her, you know, her advice. She told me how important it is to always be there and to have that sense of duty and discipline, to pay attention to the little details. I have always taken her advice very seriously.

To me, she was public service personified. You know, she is a woman who pledged her life to the service of her people. And for 70 years, never once fell short of that promise. And, you know, I think, today, you know, she is the -- she was the queen of England, but she is also symbolically the queen of the world. She means something to all of us. And no matter who you are, you feel a sense of infinity, closeness to her.

ANDERSON: You've been struck by the atmosphere, I think, from the crowds and the British public and those from around the world who have taken the opportunity to come here. You know, just this sort of coming together sense.

AL ABDULLAH: Look, it has been a rough couple of years for the U.K. You know, trying to negotiate a deal with Europe post-Brexit, a pandemic, cost of living, inflation. It has been tough. But I have never sensed the sense of togetherness that I feel today in the U.K. So, she was a unifying force during her lifetime, but she is also unifying in her passing.

Today, she reminded people of what it means to be British. She gave everyone a sense of perspective. It has been so heartening to see how everyone has come together. Politicians from all sides have sort of closed ranks around their new king. And today, we mourn the life, but we also celebrate the life, and we celebrate the start of a new chapter for this country. I'm very optimistic.

ANDERSON: How important is this royal family to the Hashemites?

AL ABDULLAH: The relationship goes back several decades and spans several generations. As his majesty King Hussein and her majesty ascended to the throne in 1952, they have enjoyed almost 50 years of a close friendship, made more special by their common experience as monarchs.

And my husband, King Abdullah, inherited and cherished this relationship. He was also very fond of her majesty as was I. It is impossible not to be. We had a very close relationship with his majesty and Queen Consort Camilla. And my son now is very close with Prince William.

So, it is a relationship that goes three generations and one that we really hold close because based on common values, my husband, as you know, has served in the British Army as well and my son also graduated from Sandhurst. You know, it is multifaceted and goes back a very long way.

ANDERSON: Her majesty's reign was during a period where the end of colonialism was seen. There is a respect for the British monarchy intertwined with some issues that came from that era. How do you see the relationship developing, going forward?

AL ABDULLAH: Her majesty was always led by principle and was willing to change and modify policies as she so fit.


AL ABDULLAH: And so, I think people understand that where the monarchy stands today is very different than vis-a-vis these issues than it was. Every era has its own circumstances. And moving forward, like I said, his majesty has a deep understanding of our region, a deep respect.

ANDERSON: Queen Rania, he also has a deep admiration for an interest in Islam, which I think is really important as we consider the relationship that the British monarchy has with the middle eastern and water (ph) region and gulf region going forward.

AL ABDULLAH: Absolutely because he's a very thoughtful person. He is somebody who knows things and studies things deeply. So, when he -- when he deals with the Muslim world, he deals with a sense of nuance and a sense of experience and knowledge. So, he knows the region very, very well and really knows how to navigate. He's a very wise man. I've no doubt in my mind how much he will enhance relations, not just with our part of the world, but with every part of the world.


ANDERSON: Queen Rania of Jordan speaking to me earlier. Well, one of the key priorities for King Charles going forward will be to continue his mother's work in modernizing the monarchy. My next guest is Sunder Katwala, the director of British Future, which is a British-based think tank. He has written extensively about the monarchy and conducted numerous polls on its popularity.

He wrote in "The Guardian" newspaper this week on the role of the monarchy in today's world that -- quote -- "The coronation next year might see the king more proactively show how we can best recognize our traditions by coming together to celebrate the society that modern Britain has become."

Sunder Katwala joins me now live. When you talk about that modern society that Britain has now become and how it will be the king's role to ensure that, you know, his thought is now to reflect that. What do you mean by that?

SUNDER KATWALA, DIRECTOR, BRITISH FUTURE: In many ways, we were (INAUDIBLE) transformed in the seven decades of the queen's reign and in my lifetime, and we feel they rooted (INAUDIBLE) today. This is the greatest occasion of state since her coronation in the 1950s. And so, I think there is a lot going on in the psychology and the minds of the nation. People won't say no (INAUDIBLE) tradition like the British. We can do that exactly as we could in 1953 or 1877.

It is a very different Britain that can do that. And so, you also want to be modern Britain, be proud, not stuck in the past but celebrating that thousand years of history with this totally different society. It was 99% white, but very strongly Christian. It is a totally different Britain now, still marking the same traditions.

ANDERSON: You make a very good point. I want you to take a listen to King Charles speaking earlier this week about his responsibility as monarch. Have a listen.


KING CHARLES III, KING OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Before all of you today, to confirm my determination to carry out responsibilities as sovereign of all communities around this country and the commonwealth, and in a way that reflects the world in which we now live.


ANDERSON: You yourself used to be skeptical of the monarchy, as I understand. You've come to see its merits. You do an awful lot of polling. And what sort of support is there out there?

I mean, I know -- you know, I think it would be fair to say that republicanism as a political issue is somewhat redundant in the U.K. Perhaps that's not the same in countries around the world. But certainly, you know, there is -- there is support for the monarchy. Just tell us what the polling suggests.

KATWALA: Yes, I mean, surprised us all, if we went back 30 years, (INAUDIBLE) unscrupulous, that she has passed on the monarchy. Not clear if it was 1977 or 1950. A fifth of the people in this country have been for a republic, absolutely fat (ph) all along.

So, there is that solid vote of confidence, something slightly misleading in the scale of the consensus that we've been hearing about. Obviously, some people are so devoted, queuing overnight and through the night. Sixty percent support. A fifth, a quarter against.

But there are, in the medium term for the king, challenges in Scotland and Wales with many people under 35, with ethnic minorities now because on my father's generation, 50 years ago, the commonwealth, the queen, that was part of how you're a British, and the people saying (INAUDIBLE) know they were in history. But British (INAUDIBLE) was born here. We don't know about that connection.


KATWALA: So, the king has a consciousness of that, I think, in his which (PH) the constitutional role remains exactly as it was. He is constrained by that. But the civic role can change (INAUDIBLE) this Britain, not the Britain of 1950.

ANDERSON: Civic role because he reigns, he doesn't govern. It's a civic role that people will look to see how he develops. Some would say that the United Kingdom has never been more divided. The skies of the Brexit referendum still fresh. Obviously, we are post-pandemic and there is a cost of living crisis here as there is in so many parts if the word today.

And yet we have seen this uniting and this coming together over the last 10 days since the passing of Queen Elizabeth peacefully in Balmoral. Do you believe this is a temporary moment of peace? Can there be some lasting healing, do you think?

KATWALA: I think there could be. We're so much more divided than we thought we were. We think we put the kettle on, talk it through, respect everyone else's views. We haven't really been that for five or 10 years. But we're not as divided as we've been telling ourselves.

Actually, we didn't fall out by party view and who got the vaccine. We've got more in that sense in common than we feel. We look across the Atlantic, the United States, and we see two totally different Americans going at loggerheads on everything.

We share a monarchy, we share an NHS, we share remembrance, we share Olympic team. We should cherish all of these things that remind us that our political divisions are not what defines us.

But the queen symbolized ability just by being there for all of our lives. The king will actually have to reach by being that connected, by doing the recognition, by talking to the youth and the diverse, by talking and saying, we should meet up, you might share more than you think.

ANDERSON: Good to have you here. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. The General Congregation begins to gather at Westminster Abbey. The time here is 8:41 in the morning. An hour from now, you will see those heads of government, heads of state from around the world gathering at Westminster Abbey for what will be the queen's state funeral at 11:00 London time.

Still to come, a touching message from King Charles as he expresses his gratitude for the messages of sympathy over the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

You're watching CNN. I'm Becky Anderson. Do stay with us.




ANDERSON: It is quarter to nine in the morning here, and members of the General Congregation have begun to enter Westminster Abbey in advance of the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II. The service itself, which is set to commence at 11:00 local time, we'll see members of the British royal family and world leaders from across the globe in attendance.

Just hours from now, a procession will take Queen Elizabeth's coffin from Westminster hall, where it has been lying in state for four days, to Westminster Abbey, where that state funeral will take place.

So, these are members of the General Congregation getting seated at Westminster Abbey. As I said, the funeral takes place at 11:00 local time, so about two and a quarter hour, a little bit of time for people to wait.

But as you can imagine, the planning for this, the logistics, the security dictates that people need to get into Westminster Abbey early. Westminster Abbey is just across the river from where I am here and just literally across Parliament Square from where the queen's casket has been lying in state.

You'll remember, over the past four days, hundreds of thousands of people have queued in what is now being called the line of duty to see and pay their respects. So, something like over 100 hours. That queue is snaking back for some six miles at one point.

This is now, today, these are shots so far just outside Buckingham Palace. That is the mall and that is where you will see that procession later on today. And as you can see, there are crowds already gathered there.

We are told by authorities that there could be as many as two million people on the streets of London around this area. It's about sort of two square miles from Buckingham Palace up to Westminster Abbey, around the palace of Westminster. And these are the pictures early on this morning. These crowds have been gathering now since before the sun rose over London.

It is 8:48 in the morning at present. We're going to take a very short break. We will be back after this.




ANDERSON: Members of the General Congregation have begun to enter Westminster Abbey in advance of the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II. The service itself is set to commence at 11:00 o'clock local time. It is just over two hours from now. We will see members of the British royal family and world leaders from across the globe in attendance there.

These are members of the public arriving at present, the heads of charities and others who have given a life of service. Faith leaders are also gathering there today, amongst the 2,000 who will be seated.

That is William Hague, former party leader of the Conservative Party in the U.K. We will see a lot of familiar faces as those people begin to enter Westminster Abbey, built in 1906 and a very familiar iconic structure to those of who may have traveled to the city.

Ahead of the ceremony, Joe Biden paid touching tribute to her majesty, signed a condolence book at Lancaster House with a message that read in part, Queen Elizabeth II was admired around the world for her unwavering commitment to service. Our hearts go out to the royal family and to the people of the United Kingdom. Here is more of what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She was the same in person as her image. Decent, honorable, all about service. And our hearts go out to the royal family, King Charles and all the family. It is a loss that leaves a giant hole in there.


BIDEN: Sometimes, you think you'll never -- you'll never overcome it, but as I've told the king, she's going to be with him every step of the way, every minute, every moment.


ANDERSON: Joe Biden, who you will see arriving at Westminster Abbey about an hour and a half from now.

Scott McLean is outside the palace of Westminster just across Parliament Square from Westminster Abbey and in amongst the crowds. As many as two million is expected to line the streets, surround central London today. Scott, what are people telling you where you are?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, the people I spoken to said that they would not miss this for the world. This is a historical event, something that they likely won't see again in their lifetime, the passing of a queen, because most people alive today likely will not see another queen in their lifetime. It's possible that a small child might. For most people my age or your age, it is extremely unlikely. So, this is something certainly to be remembered.

If you look around here, you can see people are lined up pretty deep. So, we are just down the road from Parliament Square. So, the initial procession from the Houses of Parliament, from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey, will be relatively short.

So, the folks here likely won't see much of anything, maybe a passing glimpse of the casket from down the street, of the coffin from the down the street. But what they're waiting for is the procession to the Wellington Arch, which takes place after the funeral.

I've just been speaking to some of the families. Now, I just want to chat with these folks really quick here. Hello, ma'am. I'm just wondering, why is it so important for you to bring your daughters here?

UNKNOWN: I just wanted them to experience that. I hope there's a small chance that they will remember it. We also felt that they may not have another queen in their lifetime. So, it is really important.

MCLEAN: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Becky, everyone seems to be on the same page, saying, look, this is a historical event. It is important to see it with your own eyes.

ANDERSON: It's a moment in history, Scott. Thank you for that. I'm Becky Anderson in London. More of our special coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral after this short break. You're watching CNN.