Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
CNN International: Queen Elizabeth II Laid to Rest in Windsor Castle; Ukrainians in Izyum Struggle with Daily Life; CNN Enters Recently Liberated City of Kupyansk; Queen Elizabeth II in Her Own Words. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 19, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello, everyone. I'm Bianca Nobilo in Windsor. Welcome to CNN's continuing coverage of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. A final day of ceremony to celebrate a life of service has now come to an end.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth has been laid to rest at St. George's Chapel in Windsor. Thousands paid their respects and her closest family members, her son, Charles III and her other children and grandchildren.
To some of the world's best known faces, almost 100 presidents and heads of government, thousands of ordinary Britons lined the streets as her coffin made its last journey from Westminster through London and on to Windsor.
And finally, by her own request, the sovereign piper played one last lament.
NOBILO (voice-over): A moving tribute to a queen deeply loved, who served her country and our Commonwealth for seven decades, longer than any British monarch.
NOBILO (voice-over): It was the day a nation said goodbye. After more than a week of remembrance, Queen Elizabeth II, the U.K.'s longest serving monarch was finally laid to rest. Thousands made their way to watch the, funeral with the national newspapers dedicating their front pages to her.
NOBILO (voice-over): As the casket made its way into Westminster Abbey, her children, King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, all followed behind. Also in, line Princes William and Harry and two of the queen's great-grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
On the coffin, a note from her son, King Charles, "In loving and devoted memory."
Around 2,000 people attended the funeral, with politicians and leaders from home and abroad paying their respects.
JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: Her late Majesty famously declared on her 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth. Rarely has such a promise been so well kept.
NOBILO (voice-over): A short call announced a two-minute silence, where the nation fell silent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): A short trumpet call announced two- minute silence, which hushed the nation.
NOBILO (voice-over): Broken only by the national anthem.
From there, the pageantry and mourning continued as the queen's coffin was led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, escorted by the royal family and flanked by thousands of guards and (INAUDIBLE).
Cannons fired as her coffin passed by, ready for her final journey to Windsor. At a final smaller service with a symbolic handover, the queen's coffin was lowered into the royal vault as the sovereign paper played, a personal request of the queen herself, according to Buckingham Palace.
On the eve of her funeral, Buckingham Palace released an unseen picture of the queen, taken earlier this year ahead of her Platinum Jubilee, a fitting tribute for 70 years of service.
NOBILO: Among the many dignitaries were leaders of the Commonwealth nations, the 56 nations in the Commonwealth stretch to all corners of the world.
NOBILO (voice-over): And Queen Elizabeth was still monarch of 14 of those countries. But there are increasing questions about how much longer the monarch will be the head of state.
Shortly after signing the condolence book for the queen's funeral, the Bahamas prime minister said he would hold a referendum on remaining part of the crown. Australia is also discuss leaving the monarchy and becoming a republic, even appointing a minister for the republic.
Joining me now to discuss, is Dr. Sue Onslow, the director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London.
Wonderful to have you on the program, thank you so much for joining us.
DR. SUE ONSLOW, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF COMMONWEALTH STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Well, thank you.
NOBILO: So first of all if you could speak to our international viewers about the role of the sovereign in terms of the Commonwealth, what they do, practically what the soft power component is and how important you think Queen Elizabeth II has been in maintaining that bond of Commonwealth nations.
ONSLOW: Well, there's a lot in those questions. The queen has been an extraordinary source of support and interest and dedication for the Commonwealth since she became queen in 1952.
When she became queen, the Commonwealth was a group of nearly eight nations. As you said, it's now 56. That really is the queen's legacy, the expansion and the survival of this modern organization, which has grown and included two new members this year.
In terms of the Commonwealth realms, the queen was, of course, also head of state for Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which is separate from the Commonwealth as a modern organization.
Most Commonwealth countries are republics and the monarchy has indicated, its goodwill and its good wishes for the people of those countries, which are still realms, to become the republics if they so wish.
And Prince Charles, as he then was last October, was at Barbados. It's transitioning from a Commonwealth realm to a republic, indicating it was done with very goodwill. And he reaffirmed this again in Kigali, at the commonwealth heads' government meeting.
The monarch is the ceremonial head, not the political head of the modern Commonwealth. And I see, quite frankly, helping to oversee processes of transition in the evolution of this organization.
But it certainly suffers from a disability problem. Many peoples across the world feel the Commonwealth is increasingly irrelevant to their day-to-day lives.
There is tension about the role of the monarchy as a 1,000 year old institution, representing a modern organization, tension around reparations for slavery and also a feeling that, quite frankly, the Commonwealth doesn't impact people in their day-to-day lives.
So there are stresses and strains within the organization but one thing we can be sure, that the king will lend his very best efforts and energies to supporting and continuing his mother's legacy.
NOBILO: And if King Charles III wishes to consolidate the Commonwealth as it stands at the moment, where should his attention be focused?
What is a need to do or say to repair some of the tensions you are discussing?
ONSLOW: King Charles has, it's hoped -- it's hoped that he will take on the mantle of his mother as the ceremonial and stalwart supporter for the Commonwealth. He's long advocated issues that are close to the modern Commonwealth's heart of the matter climate strange, the importance of young people, sustainability and the environment.
But there's only so much he could do to re-energize this modern association. It's really up to the political leadership of the secretary general and also Commonwealth heads that, if they're going to continue the modern Commonwealth, they have to invest, engage and really put energies and input into this.
Now the Commonwealth is also shifting. It now has 20 African members and it now includes members of the Francophonie, the French-speaking community of post-colonial nations.
This is altering dynamics within the Commonwealth. So the king, I believe, will face challenges around the role of the monarchy, the discussion of reparations, discussion of restitution of cultural artifacts.
ONSLOW: Problems around climate change and tensions within the Commonwealth between the small island developing states with the majority small states and the big emitters of climate pollution such as India and Australia.
They're a multiplicity of tensions but he will lend his soft power diplomacy, his quiet advocacy, his continued energy and interests. He will do everything he can, I have absolutely no doubt about that.
NOBILO: Of the countries where King Charles III remains the head of state as well as the British sovereign, which do you think his position remains the safest, if you like, and which countries do you think are most vulnerable to wanting to push for a republic?
ONSLOW: I think that type of language actually is misplaced about vulnerability because quite frankly --
NOBILO: -- from his perspective, from the perspective of the British monarchy, if they intend to consolidate the existing Commonwealth, which --
NOBILO: -- mostly likely to push, to go in their own direction?
ONSLOW: Well, I'm trying to say that the Commonwealth realms are a completely different arrangement. There is a connection with the crown compared to the modern Commonwealth. It's the divisible crown, these separate responsibilities that emerged from 1931 and again changed again after the war. So they are, I agree, it's paradoxical, it's confusing. But the
process toward republicanism is going to accelerate. The dial is shifting. That's with the good wishes, goodwill and full recognition of King Charles that this is the wish of the peoples, of those countries.
And it has nothing to do with their membership of the modern Commonwealth. They don't have to reapply for membership. And it's very noticeable that countries that have become republics, have stayed and affirmed their interest in staying part of a practical problem-solving organization.
NOBILO: Dr. Sue Onslow, thank you so much for joining us.
Leaders from around the world also filed into Westminster Abbey to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II. More than 500 kings, queens, emperors, emirs, presidents and prime ministers were there, representing 200 nations and territories.
They included U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden and French president Emmanuel Macron. Their attendance was a complex strategic and diplomatic operation but it was also notable whose diplomats weren't there.
Those included Russia and Saudi Arabia. Now CNN's Clarissa Ward joins me now.
Clarissa, first of all, you and your team are the only members of our contingent that were in Westminster at the beginning of the day. And then ended the day with us. You've seen all of the events unfold, up close.
What's been your experiences today?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, ,Bianca, it was unlike anything I've ever witnessed, both in terms of the scale of the operation.
The choreography, the minutiae, every single detail needed to work perfectly to have this sort of well-oiled machine function at exactly the same way that the queen wanted to see it function.
She, of course, played a huge role in the planning of her own funeral. But we heard from the London police saying this was the largest policing event ever in London's history. You really got a sense of that when were standing just outside Westminster Abbey.
We were seeing, as you mentioned, these hundreds of foreign dignitaries from all over the world, coming in to participate in the service, attend, to pay their respects, with all the various security and logistical concerns that that entails.
And this certainly wasn't a political event in any way, shape or form. But there were as you mentioned, some marked absences, some conspicuous absences, particularly Russian president, Vladimir Putin. As you, said also the leadership of Myanmar, of Belarus, Venezuela. There were representatives from North Korea and Nicaragua but they
were only at an ambassadorial level.
But I think ultimately the main focus was on the extraordinary amount of leaders and dignitaries from across the globe who did come, which really spoke I think to this sort of wide-ranging not just popularity of the queen but her ability to engage in meaningful diplomacy, soft power diplomacy with countries and nations across the globe, Bianca.
NOBILO: Clarissa, last hour I was speaking to a former diplomat. He said the bilateral that was planned between prime minister Liz Truss and president Joe Biden didn't eventuate -- but not necessarily to read too much into that.
Do you know any more about why that didn't occur?
Do you think this event itself would've been effective in any way at cementing the relationships between Britain and its allies, brought together in a personal context?
WARD: I think it's difficult to sort of manage a major bilateral meeting like that against the backdrop of, essentially leaders in the U.K. putting all their work on pause during this 10-day mourning period.
The prime minister, Liz Truss, as you mentioned had a full schedule. She was attending that mass at Westminster Abbey. She read the lesson out loud. And now she faces the pretty daunting uphill battle of really beginning her work.
She was the queen's 15th and final prime minister. But she's barely been on the job for two weeks now. And there's a number of major challenges that are facing the United Kingdom. President Biden for his part leaving pretty quickly after that service.
So there will be many more opportunities for the prime minister and President Biden to sit down together and meet, discuss the so-called special relationship. But today, the focus really was less on politics and more on saying goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II and the culmination of this 10-day mourning period, Bianca.
NOBILO: Clarissa Ward, thank you so much.
Ukraine was represented at the queen's funeral by the first lady, Olena Zelenska. She tweeted it was a great honor to say farewell to Her Majesty on behalf of all Ukrainians. She says they'll always remember the queen's support for their freedom with deep gratitude.
We'll bring you the latest on the war in Ukraine ahead in this hour.
Still to come tonight, a historic first as the queen's funeral is televised. Ahead, we'll look at the history behind the royal traditions.
NOBILO: The queen's funeral has likely been watched by millions of people around the world. But her burial was held privately among members of her family in Windsor.
That's just hours after a service that was more intimate than a state funeral but no less profound in emotion. As thousands of mourners lined The Long Walk at Windsor Castle, Britain's longest serving monarch came home to her beloved husband. The mood music (ph) was all love and gratitude for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OWEN DAVIES, WINDSOR RESIDENT: She's been our neighbor for 34 years. It's really a sad day. But it almost feels like she's coming home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have come together, to commit into the hands of God the soul of his servant, Queen Elizabeth. Here in St. George's Chapel, where she so often worshipped, we are bound to call to mind someone whose uncomplicated yet profound Christian faith bore so much fruit.
DAVID WHITE, GARTER KING OF ARMS: It hath pleased almighty God to take out of this transitory life unto his divine mercy the late, most high, most mighty and most excellent monarch, Elizabeth II.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: While thousands of Brits came out today to say a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth, many more were watching at home. Royal events have a history of drawing huge audiences. This one is expected to be no exception.
It's the first time the funeral of a British monarch has been televised, giving viewers fascinating new insight into the service. One of the ceremonies we saw today was the breaking of the wand of office, which signifies the end of the monarch's reign.
CNN royal commentator Kate Williams is joining me now to discuss this historic day.
And nobody better to discuss history with than you. I'm really curious to get your reflections as a historian. I find it quite profound that, even though we've watched events unfold over time, in news we see these dramatic things happen, it's never been quite so obvious, that closing of one chapter on the starting of another. It's all performed so ceremoniously.
What struck you the most about what you saw today?
KATE WILLIAMS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right. It really was a closing of the one chapter, the beginning of another.
And that moment you were highlighting, the Lord Chamberlain, the head of the queen's household -- used to be the head of our U.K. secret service MI-5, he broke the wand, which symbolizes he no longer serves the queen.
And he and his household now serve the king. That very symbolic moment of breaking the wand and these very significant symbolic moments that we haven't seen televised before.
I was struck by the moment we saw the queen's sceptre, orb and Imperial State crown that we've seen her wearing it state openings of Parliament, after her coronation, these were removed from the coffin the last time she would ever wear them, placed on the altar.
And then, of course, are ready for when King Charles III bears the sceptre, bears the orb, wears the crown at his coronation.
WILLIAMS: There's so many significant historical moments. It really was a ceremony weighted with history. At Westminster Abbey we have 14 kings, four queens (INAUDIBLE), St. George's Chapel just behind us -- she's the 10th monarch to be buried there.
And she's there with her father and mother and sister and husband but also, her grandfather, her great-grandfather and it really was a moment steeped in history and yet also the verity (ph), the fact was, that people had come from all over the world at the drop of the hat.
Monarchs had come, presidential leaders; President Biden was here and people recording on camera phones that pieces of footage have gone viral on social media. It was all history and yet very modern.
And I was really so struck by the personal touches, the corgis and the horses that you showed but also the choice of hymns. "The Lord Is My Shepherd" was played for Westminster Abbey service.
That was sung at the queen's wedding.
NOBILO: That was what I was going to ask. You as well because, the queen embodied this royal dichotomy of, on the one hand being so familiar with them but then not really knowing them at all in some respects.
And her fingerprints are obviously all over the day, from the hymn selection, some resonating with her grandparents, others from her late husband, the corgi.
What do you think we may have learned about the queen? From the events of today?
WILLIAMS: I think today really was a representation of the queen's personality and, as you say, she was someone who looked at this with such attention to detail. Queen Rania of Jordan, she said that the queen has a perfect attention to detail and that things didn't happen because they just did but because the queen wished that to be so.
So everything we saw was specified, the queen thought about, the queen was considerate about. And that's really important. I think we saw her as a head of state, her faith reflected, her very important faith.
The importance of family to her, her father and her mother and her sister; also the importance of her marriage in 1947 at Westminster Abbey, the same venue where she was put to rest today.
And also, the family service, the one that concluded (ph) earlier today, just behind us at St. George's Chapel that we didn't see. She was both the head of state, head of the Church of England, head of the armed forces that was so significant to the parade.
And also, a mother, grandmother, a great grandmother. She fulfilled all those rules. And fulfilled them with exemplary skill. and all the world leaders giving these tributes to her. Justin Trudeau was saying she attended to the great historical perspectives, the sweep of history.
She's very aware that she is another one in a line of monarchs. And although we may see her as our most successful monarch ever, there are many monarchs behind her. And she was thinking of her role in history as well as her role in the present.
NOBILO: Speaking of that line of monarchs, Max Foster and I were discussing earlier, how with the queen's passing you can see the responsibility obviously being moved to King Charles, subsequently more on the Prince of Wales and even on young George, that we saw today.
I don't want to wander too much into the realm of speculation but how do you think it would've affected those three generations, differently being in that environment, that grand state funeral, feeling the weight of history on them and being so present in an event that they know will probably one day happen to them?
WILLIAMS: It is the weight of history. Charles talked about the weight of history, the king talked about the weight of history. In his speech, just after his mother passed away.
And King Charles himself saw his mother's coronation in 1953. He was just a little boy and came to see it because his mother wished him to understand what was in his future. Prince William was married at Westminster Abbey. And there are both happy royal times and sad royal times as well.
Now King Charles, Prince William, the Prince of Wales, is next in line. And Prince George's now second in line. He takes Prince William's spot. And really, this is his future, these great royal events in which you have to grieve in public.
And you are also are part of the ceremonial life of the country. I think Prince George and Princess Charlotte showed a lot of courage and strength because it's not easy for any child to be on show, particularly on show to probably billions and billions of people watching this.
NOBILO: Kate Williams, always fascinating. Thank you so much.
Earlier today, the streets of England's capital fell eerily silent as people stopped in the streets to hold two minutes of silence in honor of the late queen. As you can see, for a while, this usually bustling metropolis was almost unrecognizable.
NOBILO: And take a look at Regent Street, normally packed with shoppers and traffic. Many stores closed to allow their staff to pay their respects.
And it was quiet in the sky, too, with Heathrow Airport adjusting operations to reduce noise.
Still to come tonight, we'll have more evidence of possible war crimes emerging in Izyum as Ukrainian crews uncovered dozens of bodies in mass burial sites. We'll take you live to Ukraine, just ahead.
NOBILO: Ukraine's president says that a sensible lull in fighting in the front line is just a port (ph) as Ukraine prepares to liberate more cities, villages and towns from Russian occupation.
Military officials say that they've just forced Russian troops out of a village in the Luhansk region but in the areas which are now liberated, they're showing evidence of possible atrocities.
In Izyum, near Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials are exhuming more bodies from mass burials. They say most are civilians, two are children. One official says that many of the bodies show signs of violence and torture.
But Moscow says any claims that its troops have committed war crimes are lies. Ukrainian officials say that a Russian missile has struck a village just north of Zaporizhzhya, destroying a house and injuring an elderly woman.
The woman's son told reporters, he found his mother covered in debris. A neighbor says she was saved by a table that fell on her, creating space for her to breathe. The woman is now being treated in hospital.
Let's talk more about everything we've just mentioned happening in Ukraine, Ben Wedeman joins us from Kharkiv.
Ben, as more and more civilian bodies are being exhumed from Izyum's mass grave, you've been there.
What did you see?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we saw, Bianca, was a town where people are happy to be free of the Russian occupation.
But it's a town that's been severely damaged in the fighting. People are desperate to get the things that we take for granted, things like power, water, internet, communication. So right now daily life in that town is a struggle.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Help arrives in Izyum, bags of barley meal, tins of food. Waiting her turn, Inessa (ph) shrugs off the tribulations of late. She's seen worse.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): "We survived World War II when I was little," she tells me.
Surgeon Oksana Karapetian hands out medicine. Sedatives are in high demand.
OKSANA KARAPETIAN, SURGEON: They've got half of a year, six months, without any help. You can understand what to do they would.
Just imagine, what do they feel?
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Liberation from Russia isn't the end of Izyum's troubles. Much of the city was severely bombarded before falling in spring to the Russians. There's no running water, no electricity, no heat.
Crowds gathered to charge cell phones off an army generator and make calls 10 minutes per person, using internet provided by a satellite connection.
Lubov (ph) and her daughter, Anzhela (ph), are calling relatives. They want to leave. Winter is coming.
"People will freeze," Anzhela (ph) warns. "Older people won't survive."
They also fear the Russians could return. Nearby, the signs of their hasty retreat, helmets strewn outside a house Russian soldiers commandeered, bread crumbs still on the table. Insects make a meal of fruit, half eaten.
On the edge of town, the remains of Russia's once vaunted army, before a monument harking back to a different time, which now seems like the distant past.
Natasha shows me a newspaper distributed during the occupation.
What does she think of him?
"I haven't thought anything good about him since 2000," she says. "He destroyed everything and Russia."
The paper does, however, come in handy.
WEDEMAN: As far as that mass burial site on the outside of Izyum, officials say, at this point, they've dug up about 150 bodies but it's going to take another two weeks to dig up the rest.
Of course then there is the process of analyzing the DNA. So it might be quite some time before we know all of those who were killed and buried in that graveyard. Bianca.
NOBILO: Ben, when it comes to what's happening on the battlefield, there are reports of Ukraine's territorial gains in the east, which we've been speaking about, while there are reports of Russian shelling in the south.
How much is going Ukraine's way?
WEDEMAN: Well, certainly at the moment, it appears that much is going Ukraine's way. They've taken a huge amount of territory. Much of the Kharkiv region has been liberated from Russian forces.
Now we've seen they're starting to move in the Luhansk region to the south of here, taking one town on the outskirts about five kilometers to the west of Lysychansk, which was a strategic town that fell to the Russians.
What we saw, certainly, in Izyum and elsewhere is that the Russian retreat was a route. They really just left everything and ran away. Soldiers were telling us that they were so afraid of being in their military vehicles, many of the soldiers simply stole local cars and drove over the border.
Certainly, this is a serious blow.
The question is, can the Ukrainians keep up the momentum?
They have they have good, new sophisticated weapons provided by NATO and other countries. But they are dealing with Russia, which is a massive military power, whose reputation or reputation for strength has taken a bit of a beating. But they still have many weapons, heavy weapons the Russians have not used. Bianca.
NOBILO: Ben Wedeman in Ukraine, thank you very much.
Russian forces are bombarding towns and villages that they fled in the Kharkiv region. Our Nick Paton Walsh shows us what Russian forces left behind and speaks to a survivor of the brutal occupation.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY (voice-over): There's no respite in victory here, an artillery battle still shaking the liberated city of Kupyansk.
This occupation's slogan, "We are one people with Russia," seems comic. Now the Ukrainians have chased the Russians across the bridge and further south.
A shell has landed under 100 meters from us. Another swiftly follows. It's unlikely Moscow can retake places lost in the past weeks.
WALSH (voice-over): So this is about vengeance and spite.
This prisoner has claimed to be local but they think he's a Russian soldier, deserting or left behind.
What else Moscow left behind is far uglier. These tiny rooms were their detention center, where as many as 400 prisoners were held at one time, we are told, eight or nine prisoners per cell. Booby traps now in their place, a warning written next to this room.
So he's writing "grenade" on the wall. As they move through these cells, they're finding booby traps left, it seems, by occupying forces. That one in there, a grenade left under a tray of half-eaten food. And it just shows you the hazards that ordinary people are going to find coming back, a place like this used as a key detention center by the Russians.
But across this town, the damage is extraordinary but also, too, is the risk of unexploded ordnance and potentially booby traps.
They're discovering two other scars from torture. This former prisoner is introduced to us by the Ukrainian security service. He says he was imprisoned about a month ago as he was once a cook in the army.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is the room where I was interrogated. They put me on this chair. There the investigator sat and there was the guy with the telephone and another one who helped.
WALSH: The telephone was an old wind-up model, used to send electric shocks into him. He thinks his interrogator was experienced from the Russian security services.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They told me, "You think you are tough? Let's find out how tough."
I was also shot with some kind of pistol, here and in the leg.
WALSH: They asked him who he was in touch with from the army. The Russians burned their interrogation records hurriedly. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The main thing is to survive and to withstand. It took me 1.5 weeks to recover when I got out. They promised I'd only see the sun and sky again if they forced me into a minefield.
WALSH: Elsewhere, signs of the mindset fueling the Russian invasion. They found time to paint this mural, a Russian soldier; see the "Z" on his arm, next to the flag of the former Soviet empire, burnished in flames.
Pause a moment here in the bloodshed and ruin and consider how truly odd this is. They were only here a matter of months, yet so speedily tattooed this building with their machinery of pain.
So much here clearly beyond use, so few locals huddle in its empty husk. Winning does not heal the wounds; it just gives them enough time to feel them -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kupyansk, Ukraine.
NOBILO: Still to come, an American hostage, who was held an Afghanistan for more than two years, is now free. We'll explain what led to his release.
Plus, from earthquakes to hurricanes and typhoons, it's been a deadly day of nature showing its strength.
NOBILO: A senior White House official confirms that an American who was held captive in Afghanistan for more than two years is now free after a prisoner swap.
Mark Frerichs, an engineer, who was kidnapped in January 2020 while he was working in Afghanistan, it's believed he was a hostage of the Haqqani Network, a group with very close ties to the Taliban.
He was exchanged for an Afghan tribal leader linked to the Taliban. He was in prison in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges. U.S. security correspondent Kylie Atwood is following the story with us. I spoke with her a little earlier.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's very clear in speaking to a senior administration official that the real hard work came in recent months, when it became clear to the U.S. government that the key to securing Mark Frerichs was an Afghan, who was a drug trafficker, serving time in a U.S. prison.
And that is the person who ultimately President Biden decided, back in June, that he would grant clemency for.
Now the U.S. government conducted an assessment, a government-wide assessment, to make sure that, if they released him, there would not be any increased threat to Americans emanating from Afghanistan or there would not be any additional fuel added to the current drug trade, happening in Afghanistan.
They decided that there would not be any material change to those two things. That is how they decided to move forward. Of course it took a number of months, however, for this to fully come to fruition and for Mark Frerichs to eventually be released from Afghanistan today and currently on his way to Germany for medical treatment.
NOBILO: And what is Mr. Frerichs' family saying today?
ATWOOD: They are saying that they obviously welcome this and have been praying every single day for the last 31 months that he has been held hostage in Afghanistan, that is 2.5 years.
And they're also saying that they believe that he is alive today because of this decision that President Biden made.
Now, of course, they are welcoming this prisoner swap that enabled Mark Frerichs to be released. Of course some will be critical of that prisoner swap, because they will know druglord Noorzai was an infamous drug trafficker before he went into prison here in the United States.
But ultimately this is something that is a top priority for the Biden administration. They've been working on a number of cases of American hostages or Americans wrongfully detained abroad. Mark Frerichs is one of those today, who it is a good story for.
His family looks forward to speaking with him, they've not had a conversation with him yet but we'll continue to track that in the days to come.
NOBILO: Kylie Atwood for us.
Angry street protests are rattling Iran after a young woman died suspiciously in custody. A local news agency quoted police as saying, Mahsa Amini's death was an unfortunate incident and denying that she was harmed.
But few believe that. Iran's morality police detained Amini last Tuesday. It enforces the country strict hijab rules. Witnesses say they saw police beating her inside their van, which they deny.
State media released an edited video of Amini collapsing at a reeducating center. Police say the 22-year old died of a heart attack, even though her family says that she was in good health.
Demonstrations over the incident have gone on for three days now in Tehran, the Kurdish region she was from, and other areas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO (voice-over): In this video, shared by the free union Iranian workers, protesters took to the streets, chanting "Death to the dictator."
Across the world, several countries are dealing with natural disasters that are bringing death and destruction. Let's take a look at some of the key stories making headlines about that at this hour.
A tsunami warning has been issued and buildings evacuated out of fear that they could collapse after a powerful earthquake struck off the southwestern Mexico.
At least one person has died near the epicenter of the 7.7 magnitude quake. According to the Mexican president, the tremors could be felt as far away as Mexico City.
NOBILO: Taiwan was still experiencing serious aftershocks one day after a 6.9 magnitude quake struck the island. At least one person has died; close to 150 people were injured in Sunday's quake, which caused at least one building to collapse.
Nearly 10 million people were told to seek higher ground in Japan, as typhoon Namnadol roared ashore from the south. At least two people have been killed and power was knocked out to some 30,000.
In Puerto Rico, catastrophic damage -- that's how its governor is describing the aftermath of hurricane Fiona. Fiona brought more than half a meter of rain to parts of the island, causing mudslides, flooding and destruction like this bridge that was ripped away by rushing waters.
More than 1 million Puerto Ricans lost electricity. The storm is now strengthening again as it sweeps through the Dominican Republic and heads toward the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Bermuda.
Still to come tonight, saying thank you, ma'am, for the very last. Time full coverage of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
NOBILO: Back to our top story, a nation bids farewell to one of its greatest ever heads of state. In the past few hours, Queen Elizabeth II was buried alongside her husband at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
That moment took place privately. But earlier we saw moving scenes as the queen's coffin was lowered into the royal vault, the last time it would ever be seen in public. Earlier in the day, a state funeral of unprecedented ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey. Hundreds of thousands of people turned out to be part of the day in
some way, including leaders from across the globe, a sign, the Archbishop of Canterbury remarked, of the way that Queen Elizabeth touched multitudes of lives.
It's almost impossible to describe the queen's devotion to service over her 70-year reign. Where our words may fail, we turn to her once more. This is the queen, in her own words.
ELIZABETH II, FORMER QUEEN OF ENGLAND: I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family, to which we all belong.
Today, we need a special kind of courage, not the kind needed in battle but a kind which makes us stand up to everything that we know is right.
On our own, we cannot and wars or wipe out injustice. But the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.
It is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.
It is my hope that, when judged by future generations, our sincerity, our willingness to take a lead and our determination to do the right thing will stand the test of time.
A long life can pass by many milestones. my own is no exception.
We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.
NOBILO: It was the queen herself who once said that grief is the price that we pay for love. And on the day of her own funeral, the nation's love was on staggering display. Hundreds of thousands of people turned out, whether here in Windsor or in London.
And that's on top of the remarkable crowds that joined the queue over the past few days to pay their respects to her coffin inside Westminster Hall. We also expect that many millions watched events on TV, online, illustrating the unique strength of love much of the world had for Her Majesty.
Members of the royal family paid a silent tribute to the queen with their symbolic choices of jewelry. Seven-year-old Princess Charlotte wore a horseshoe-shaped diamond brooch, a gift from her great- grandmother.
Her mother, Catherine, Princess of Wales, wore a pearl necklace and earrings that once belonged to the queen. Pearls are traditionally worn as mourning jewelry, partly due to their unflashy appearance.
And Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, also honored the late queen, wearing a pair of understated pearl stud earrings also gifted from the late monarch.
And from Windsor, to Wellington and well beyond, people far and wide have been speaking about what Queen Elizabeth meant to them. The funeral brought tears to the eyes of British expats at this pub in Paris.
Elsewhere, Britons spoke about wishing they could be home to witness this history unfolding or about how thankful they are to have simply lived during her reign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY BLACKBURN, LITTLE BRITAIN HOTEL, GERMANY (through translator): My feelings are very sad but also very proud, proud to be British and proud that such a queen lived, who was respected all over the world, in England, in Europe, all over.
For me, she was a very good example and never put a foot wrong. She worked for peace and the Commonwealth and did a lot of good in the world.
DEBBIE WALLACE, RETIREE: Yes, I've missed being there, just with the people in their grief and the outpouring of love for the queen. I think it would be nice to be surrounded by that.
In fact, I was alive during her reign and I've always know none other than her. I think she did an amazing job. I think she's great for her life really.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Finally, moving images of the queen's favorite four-legged friends saying goodbye. This really got me.
The queen, of course, was known for her passion for horses and dogs. Two of her beloved corgis, Sandy and Muick, were seen waiting at the funeral procession as it arrived at Windsor. The dogs will now be taken in by Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York.
And her favorite pony, Emma, appeared to lift her hoof as the hearse with the queen's coffin passed by.
Thank you for watching tonight, do stay with CNN. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer is up next.