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King Charles III arrives in Belfast

EDINBURGH, Scotland –

King Charles III flew to Northern Ireland on Tuesday in the latest leg of his tour of the countries that make up the UK, as thousands lined up through the night to pay their last respects in front of his mother’s coffin he is in Edinburgh.

On Monday night, Charles and his siblings, Anne, Andrew and Edward, bowed their heads around their mother’s flag-draped casket in St. Giles as members of the public pass by.

Before that, a man in a costume with a medal stood silently, bowed his head, and continued on. A woman wipes her tears with a handkerchief. Another woman with two young children in their school uniform walked slowly past the coffin.

Some people even pay their respects and then return to the end of the line for a second look at the coffin of the only king most people in Great Britain have ever known.

In a line of mourners outside St. Giles’ in Edinburgh’s historic centre, Sheila McLeay called the queen “a great ambassador for our country.”

“She is an example to all of us. She is decent. She’s just, she’s beautiful inside and out. And I’ve known her all my life. And I miss her so much,” she added.

On Tuesday, Charles left Hollyroodhouse Palace in a convoy to Edinburgh Airport to fly to Belfast.

Scotland, where the queen died on Thursday at her beloved Balmoral estate in the Highlands after a 70-year reign, has been hailed by many for the queen.

The British monarchy causes more mixed feelings than in Northern Ireland, where there are two main communities: predominantly Protestants who consider themselves British and largely populists. Roman Catholics consider themselves Irish.

That split has fueled three decades of violence known as the “Troubles” involving paramilitary groups on both sides and UK security forces, in which 3,600 people died. The royal family has been touched by the violence: Lord Louis Mountbatten, a cousin of the queen and much-loved mentor of Charles, was killed by a bomb by the Irish Republican Army in 1979.

Deep factional divisions remain, a quarter of a century after Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace accord.

But in a sign of how far Northern Ireland has come on the road to peace, representatives of Sinn Fein – Ireland’s main nationalist party, which was linked during the Troubles with the IRA – are taking part. attend commemorative events for the queen and meet the king on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein’s president, Mary Lou McDonald, paid tribute to the 96-year-old monarch after her death last Thursday, calling her “a strong supporter and ally of the believer in peace and reconciliation”.

The president and prime minister of the neighboring Republic of Ireland will also attend the memorial service in Belfast, despite strained relations between Dublin and London over Brexit. Since Britain left the European Union in 2020, the UK and EU have been arguing over trade rules for Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK that shares a border with a member of the bloc.

After lying in church for most of Tuesday, the queen’s coffin will be returned to London and taken to her official London home, Buckingham Palace.

Previously, the Royal Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft will carry coffins that were used to evacuate people from Afghanistan and humanitarian aid and weapons to Ukraine after the Russian invasion. , said Air Marshal Mike Wigston.

In the early hours of Tuesday, workers were seen clearing rubbish and weeds on the road between the airbase where the plane carrying the queen’s coffin will land and central London.


Jill Lawless and Mike Corder reported from London.

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