LONDON (Dispatches) -- Britain said farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday at a state funeral attended by world leaders through the streets of London.
Crowds gathered in near silence to watch as the queen’s coffin, topped with the Imperial State Crown, her orb and scepter, was carried slowly to a gun carriage from parliament’s Westminster Hall where it had lain in state since Wednesday.
The funeral was the biggest ever event for the police whose presence on the streets was their largest on record, with more than 10,000 officers on duty to suppress any protest.
There was one police officer to every ten protesters as the “Reclaim Freedom Square” rally went ahead after a Scottish independence festival was postponed to next month over public order concerns.
Ahead of the ceremony, republican campaigners had urged those attending the event to object to King Charles III being made monarch without “public ascent or mandate”.
About 500 foreign dignitaries were expected for the state funeral in Westminster Abbey, triggering the biggest ever personal protection operation undertaken by the Metropolitan police.
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was met with protests Sunday in London ahead of the funeral.
Friends and relatives of British journalist Dom Phillips, who was murdered in June along with local indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in the Amazon rainforest, also protested outside the ambassador’s residence, mobilizing to make their voices heard and to decry Bolsonaro’s visit. The two men had been conducting research for a book project on conservation efforts in the region.
A British foreign office source said Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman was no longer expected to attend the funeral, contrary to Britain’s earlier expectations that he would.
Reports of the crown prince’s plan to touch down in London on Sunday had been condemned by human rights defenders as a “stain” on the monarch’s memory and an attempt by the Saudi crown prince to use mourning to “seek legitimacy and normalization”.
Protests have already been planned against visits by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain and leaders from the UAE.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II has also revived longstanding criticism over the monarchy’s enrichment from the British empire’s violent colonization of African, Asian and Caribbean nations and their diasporas.
Though millions across the world mourned, many have seen the queen’s passing as a bitter reminder of the British empire’s violent exploitation of countries throughout history – resulting in decades of suffering, death, and economic and social devastation – and a time to renew calls for reparations.