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State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth Begins Soon; Britain Prepares for Final Farewell to Queen Elizabeth. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 19, 2022 - 04:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Becky Anderson in London where it is 9 a.m. And in just two hours from now, Britain and the world will say a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II as her state funeral gets underway.

The doors to Westminster Abbey opened last hour. In the next 30 minutes, the general congregation will be seated, followed by the foreign heads of state. Up to 2,000 people are expected to attend the Queens funeral. Before it begins, the Abbey's tenet bell will toll once a minute for 96 minutes to represent each year of the Queens life. This is the general congregation and these people have been going into the Abbey for about a half an hour now. As I said, the heads of state will arrive in about 40 minutes from now.

Many members of the military have been invited. Members of the Church of England and other faiths. Many people who've given a life of service, heads of charities invited today to, what we've been told, will be an uplifting service in commemoration of the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

CNN's Clarissa Ward joining us now from outside Westminster Abbey. That is where the action is, as it were, over the next couple of hours. Clarissa, we do expect to see dignitaries, heads of state, and government arriving in the next 45 minutes. Just describe the atmosphere where you are.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly a grey morning and a somber morning. That there is also a degree of anticipation here. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Princes, and Emperor, all expected to begin arriving, really in the next half hour to 40 minutes. Although the service, as you mentioned, started at 11:00.

We've seen, already, a couple of buses pulling in. In fact, you can see one behind me right now. The vast majority of people and guests who are invited, there's some 2,000 who will be attending the fuel service, will be arriving on these sorts of buses. This is for very understandable logistical reasons. There are some notable exceptions, among them the U.S. President Joe Biden. And basically, the guess will be arriving, going into the nave. This is the same nave of Westminster Abbey, behind me, where the Queen was actually crowned at her coronation some 69 years ago. So today, really, Becky, the culmination of 10 days of mourning. We

have seen unprecedented displays of a country unified in grief. Hundreds of thousands expected to line the streets today. And I'm not sure if you can see that there are police officers literally lining all the streets in this entire area. This is according to the police in London, the largest policing effort ever in London's history. Some 36 kilometers or just over 20 miles of barriers have been erected around London. So, an extraordinary effort ongoing to ensure that this extraordinary event goes off without a hitch -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Queen Elizabeth II had a very close relationship with the Abbey. Her final visit there was before her death in March of 2022, when she attended the service of thanksgiving for her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh who died in 2021.


Our viewers may remember the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 and the Queen Mother in 2002. They were held at the Abbey. And 16 royal weddings have been held there, including those of Queen Elizabeth II to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947. And more recently, William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales, in 2001. The last funeral of a monarch at the Abbey was that of King George II back in 1760.

These past ten days, Clarissa, have been steeped in history. History of the royal family going backed some 1,000 years. We are at the end of what has been a ten-day mourning period. You know London well. I grew up here, and I was describing the city earlier to somebody as busy but quiet. And that is how it has felt over the last ten days. They've been so many people in the city coming in to pay their respects. And yet, there's been this sense of sort of silence of just quiet tribute. And I guess as the atmosphere where you are outside Westminster Abbey today.

WARD: Yes, it's pretty extraordinary, Becky. You know, I was privileged enough to go to school actually just behind there at Westminster. Normally, in the mornings, on a working day, this would be incredibly busy. A lot of traffic commuters, people moving around. Now, it is very quiet. The streets, of course, emptied. The vast majority of central London has basically -- or certainly in this area, has basically been blocked off to vehicles. You see a lot of journalists here. And you see that strong security presence.

But it has been this sort of unusual thing of having so many hundreds of thousands of people pouring into London to pay their respects. And yet feeling on the streets, this very kind of muted, quiet, somber, reflective mode as people have really tried to get their arms around the enormity of this. Because the reality is, Becky, for more than 86 percent of people in England and Wales, the Queen is the only monarch they have ever known.

And during her 70 year rule, which was bookended by the war and by the pandemic, so much has happened. So much has changed. Britain has gone through so many transformations that not only is there a huge amount of goodwill and a desire to give her the best possible, the most dignified possible send up. But I think there's also an element of anxiety about stepping out into the world, after this morning period is finally over, and with King Charles taking full responsibility of his duties. As to what exactly Britain looks like without Queen Elizabeth II -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Members of the general congregation entering Westminster Abbey in advance of the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II. That service set to commence at 11 a.m. local time. It is 9:07 here now. And we've seen members of the church, of other faiths, of charities, people who've given their service have been invited to this service marking the death, of course, of Queen Elizabeth II and people gathered there. And most will be getting seated, if not already seated, waiting for the arrival of world leaders and dignitaries, current world leaders and heads of state arriving from around the world, of course including Joe Biden.

Many of those being bused into, for the sake of security and logistics, many of these people have been bussed into Westminster Abbey today. And certainly, many of those heads of state will be arriving together today. And Joe Biden, of course, with his wife here, as well. So, these are the scenes inside Westminster Abbey for you.

It's 9:09 in the morning. Let's get you to Windsor were Kate Williams is standing by. Before I do that, I'll just get back to Clarissa Ward who is in London. We know that this funeral is set to start at 11 a.m., will last about an hour. Just take us, Clarissa, through what will happen after that.


WARD: So, Becky, you know, really what we're waiting now in the next half hour to 40 minutes is that we're going to see some of those foreign dignitaries start to arrive. We're also going to see Kings and Queens from royal families in Spain and Sweden and Denmark and the Netherlands and various other countries who will start to arrive.

One other interesting thing to note it's not just about who is invited to this extraordinary event today, but also about who is not invited. Conspicuously not invited, of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin, also the leaders of Belarus, Myanmar, Syria, I believe, as well, also -- and as well as Afghanistan, not expected to attend. Some other countries sending people, like an ambassadorial level, such as North Korea and Nicaragua.

But certainly, in the next 15 to 20 minutes, we expect to see some of those heads of state, many of whom have already paid their respects and writing the condolence book, visiting Buckingham Palace. French President Emmanuel Macron, also Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and many others who are expected to arrive.

Then the royal family themselves will arrive or members of the royal family. And then, of course, the procession into Westminster Abbey. And what's quite unusual about that, or someone unexpected, is that the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate, their two children, or two of their three children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will also walk behind the coffin into the Abbey along with other close members of the royal family.

After the service, the procession will leave and will go towards Wellington Arch where the Queen's coffin will be moved into a hearse and then, make the journey to Windsor. At Windsor, there will be another service -- the committal service. And then, later on a sort of private event for the royal family to really pay their respects and have some moments among themselves. Because of course, it's easy to forget in all of this sort of pomp and circumstance and tradition and history and the extraordinary world reaction to all of this, that this is also just a family, Becky, grieving the loss of their mother, their grandmother. And so, they will have that private moment as well -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And for George and Charlotte, their great grandmother -- gran-gran as they called her. Clarissa, thank you for that.

Let's get you to Windsor. Today's event will culminate there with what will be an intimate ceremony, we are told, as opposed to this sort of state funeral that we are seeing here in the next couple of hours. The latter events will be at Windsor Castle. CNN royal historian Kate Williams is there. This is, Kate, the biggest event in the United Kingdom in the post-World War II era. And Winston Churchill, back in 1965 was given a state funeral. This is huge as many as 2 million people are expected to be on the streets of London today. The Queen's final resting place will be in Windsor. Talk us through the importance and significance of where you are.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: Yes, here I am at Windsor. The Queen's beloved Windsor. She was evacuated here during the war. She spent so much time here is a child. She made her very first broadcast here from the age of 14 during the war. And when she talked about how it was up to the children, the future to make the world a better place. Which is always what she try to do.

President, Biden giving tribute yesterday when he arrived in Buckingham Palace saying that we were better for her. That was always her effort in Windsor was her -- really her refuge. And she was here during the COVID pandemic, it was where she has her bubble. And the St. George's Chapel, Windsor, we've seen it for the happy times, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. We saw it for the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, which happened during COVID times.

And the George VI Memorial Chapel is where the Queen herself commissioned for her own father to be buried. So, she commissioned that 1962, ten years after he died. It was built on St. George's Chapel for the king, King George VI to be buried. So, the King is there, the Queen's mother, the Queen Mother of Queen Elizabeth is there. Also, her sister and her husband. So, she'll be reunited with all of them in this private ceremony that you were just talking about, Clarissa was just talking about. This private ceremony at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. We have the great ceremony today, 2,000 people at Westminster Abbey, you're watching the arrivals.

Then, you have an assembling more the Queens household in St. George's Chapel. And then the final one for members of the family, reminding us that she was head of state, the international Queen. [04:15:00]

And she was also the head of the castle, head many estates and had all of her staff. And then finally, she was a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother. And that's what's to be commemorated at 7:30 tonight in a service that will not be televised and final moment is when the Queen will be lowered into St. Georgia's Memorial Chapel with her parents, with her husband, reunited with her family and her father who died in 1952.

ANDERSON: In an act of respect for their great grandmother, Prince George -- who is just nine years old of course and Princess Charlotte who is just seven will join their parents the Prince and Princess of Wales today in the formal procession through Westminster Abbey where several other members of the royal family. Something we don't know whether the Queen had asked for, but something I think she would have loved to have seen.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I think the Queen will be very gratified. She adored her great grandchildren, and we were seeing reports from the press that Kate and William the Prince and Princess of Wales were considering taking Prince George to the funeral, that it would be important for him to see it. And certainly, now, what we have is Georgia and Charlotte walking behind, and that I think really reflects how much they adore their grandmother, how close she was. We saw that wonderful tribute, didn't, we from Beatrice Eugenie saying she was such a great grandmother, you know, they liked picking heather and picking raspberries with her, and I'm sure George and Charlotte have similar memories.

And that moment I think is very significant, because of course George now is really close very in line to the throne. Prince William, the Prince of Wales is next in line to the throne, and then Prince George. So, he is now second in line to the throne, so it isn't once a small boy, a small boy just at junior school and also the future king.

ANDERSON: Absolutely. Last night, King Charles hosting what one paper has described as the diplomatic reception of the century, with 1,000 guests at Buckingham Palace, including the U.S. President, Emmanuel Macron the French President, Justin Trudeau the leader of Canada. We've just been looking at pictures of the royal Canadian Mounted Police in London today. As we look at images here, live images at Westminster Abbey, as the final general members of the general congregation get seated ahead of these world leaders.

Kate, just talk to us about what will have been going on at the palace with regard to diplomacy. The king as I said met these dignitaries last night, they all have to be seated here today at Westminster Abbey, how does the palace work through this diplomacy of sort of who sits where and next to whom?

WILLIAMS: Yes, the question of the seating plan is a very complicated question and of course although there were plans before the Queen passed away, they can only be finalized when you know who is coming. And the Queen's passing was really had to be decided quite quickly. President Biden said very swiftly he was coming and really, I think there has been such an incredible turnout of world leaders. People have really changed their plans. We know that world leaders have very big schedules planned far in advance, they all change their plans. They all wanted to be here. People from all over the world.

We have, as you say, 1,000 people at the reception of the century and we have many world leaders and foreign royals and security questions and also who sits where. But what we understand to be the case is that the Commonwealth leaders are at the front and then the foreign royal families are also quite at the front because royals are related to the Queen, and the Commonwealth leaders are the ones who are particularly near to the front. This is a task, but it is one that the palace were expecting. It's one that the palace were used to.

And I really -- I'm just so struck by the thought of all these world leaders signing the condolence book, writing their own individual memories of the Queen, and I do hope that we will be allowed to see this online or just a snapshot of all these world leaders, many of whom met the Queen, have dealt with the Queen for many years. Justin Trudeau of course he's been saying that he met the Queen 40 years ago. And in fact, he was saying that what he really valued about the Queen was the perspective that she brought, the great sweep of history that she brought, and that is what we are commemorating. 70 years on the throne, many leaders, many prime ministers, many presidents, and they are all here commemorating her stay.


ANDERSON: Well, many of those who are attending the service today, Kate, are seated, the general congregation is seated, thank you for your analysis.

Princess Diana's brother, Charles Spencer arrived earlier, the Earl of Spencer. Queen Consort Camilla's family also arriving at Westminster Abbey earlier on. And about 20 minutes from now, we will see world leaders, heads of state arriving, members of the monarchy from across Europe and elsewhere, those who are here to honor Queen Elizabeth by marking her life at this funeral today. 2,000 people can be held here at Westminster Abbey, that service starting in about an hour and 40 minutes.

Our coverage of Queen Elizabeth's funeral continues after this short break. I'm Becky Anderson, you are watching CNN, stay with us.



ANDERSON: Well, it's 9:25 in London, these are pictures outside Westminster Abbey where Queen Elizabeth II's life will be commemorated in a full state funeral, heads of state, religious leaders, the royal family including two of her young great grandchildren will honor as people are describing it her faith and devotion. Her dedication to the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Well, less than two hours away now from the start of that funeral. This is inside Westminster Abbey at present, the general congregation pretty much seated now ahead of the arrival of heads of government, and a heads of state. Members of the royal families surrounding Europe and beyond.

Let's bring in Clarissa Ward, joining us from outside Westminster Abbey. We are about 15 minutes away from the arrival of the dignitaries. Who do we know will be attending, and perhaps we should also just mark off who won't be.

WARD: Right, well, Becky, some arrivals have already taken place not so much of a foreign dignitaries but certainly we have seen the Jacob Reese Mogg, U.K. minister. We've seen the former Foreign Secretary William Hague. We've seen Queen Consort Camilla's son Tom Parker Bowles and also Earl Spencer, Princess Diana's brother, Charles Spencer.

You can hear as well, we've started to hear the last three minutes now, that's the third one, the Tenor Bell that will be tolling once a minute for 96 minutes to commemorate the 96 years that Queen Elizabeth II lived. So that's the third that we've heard so far. Coming back to Earl Spencer who very famously gave something of an extraordinary speech in the funeral of Princess Diana when she was so tragically killed. He is now inside the Abbey.

The sermon today will be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The service itself will be held by the dean of Westminster. We also expect the British Prime Minister, the newly elected British Prime Minister Liz Truss to read a lesson. She was the 15th and final Prime Minister to meet with the Queen.

And then, as you mentioned, there will be a host of other princes. presidents prime ministers. U.S. President Joe Biden of course expected, French president Emmanuel Macron, Prime Ministers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand many other nations. And you did mention and it's worth bearing mention, that some people are not invited. Some nations are not invited most notably of course Russian President Vladimir Putin, but also, we do not expect to see anyone from Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Myanmar, or Belarus.

But I would say the focus today, Becky, very much twofold really. On the one hand, honoring the extraordinary seven decade reign of Queen Elizabeth II, and on the other hand also ensuring that all the logistics that need to work perfectly and come together in perfect coordination today go off without a hitch to give Queen Elizabeth II the funeral that everyone in this country, or the vast majority of people in this country, very much would like to see.

This is the largest policing operation in London's history. A mammoth endeavor with thousands of police officers, you can see some of them lined along the streets here, more than 30 kilometers or 20 miles of barriers have been erected around London. Huge of swaths of the central part of the capital have been completely shut off and to road traffic. So, this is bigger than the Olympics, bigger than the Platinum Jubilee, and an extraordinary day and in these next moments we will be seeing more dignitaries from around the world begin to arrive -- Becky. ANDERSON: Clarissa Ward is outside Westminster Abbey. This major event

is of course seeing unprecedented numbers of people swarming to London, and as part of that, the procession viewing areas we are told are now full -- that is according to London City Hall. It's advised people to use the dedicated walking route to Hyde Park to watch the state funeral instead.

All right, time for a very quick break. And it's just before 9:30 in the morning here in London with our continuing coverage here on CNN. Stay with us.