Man arrested after approaching Queen Elizabeth II's coffin

Mourners face a 16-hour wait to see the casket at London's Westminster Hall

People queue to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Hall in London. Reuters
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A man has been arrested after approaching Queen Elizabeth II's coffin in what police in London have described as a disturbance.

The incident happened at about 10pm on Friday as mourners, who have faced a 16-hour wait to pay their respects while the monarch lies in state, filed passed her coffin at Westminster Hall.

Parliamentary authorities said someone left the queue and tried to approach the coffin on its platform.

Metropolitan Police force a man was detained on suspicion of committing a public order offence.

A woman told Sky News that a man pushed her 7-year-old daughter out of the way during the incident.

“The police had him within two seconds," Tracey Holland said.

The UK Parliament is aware of the incident. "A member of the public moved out of the queue and towards the catafalque," a parliament representative said.

“They have now been removed from the hall and the queue restarted with minimal disruption.”

On Saturday, King Charles III was due to meet officials at Buckingham Palace.

In the morning he received the First Sea Lord, Chief of the Air Staff, Chief of the General Staff, Chief of the Defence Staff, Vice Chief of Defence Staff and the Commander of United Kingdom Strategic Command.

He then surprised queuing crowds in London, with his son William, and shook hands of well-wishers.

He was later expected to receive the governors general of the realms for a reception and lunch at Buckingham Palace followed by a meeting with prime ministers of the realms.

Britain's King Charles III attends a vigil at Westminster Hall in London following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Reuters

On Saturday evening, the queen's eight grandchildren will hold a vigil around her coffin.

Prince William, who after his grandmother’s death is now the heir to the throne, will stand at the head of the coffin and Prince Harry at the foot. Both princes, who are military veterans, will be in uniform.

King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward stood vigil around the flag draped coffin for 15 minutes on Friday.

Before the vigil, Prince Edward said the royal family was "overwhelmed by the tide of emotion that has engulfed us and the sheer number of people who have gone out of their way to express their own love, admiration and respect [for] our dear mama".

Former England football captain David Beckham pays his respects to the queen. AFP

On Friday, the mourners included former England football captain David Beckham, who queued for almost 12 hours to pay his respects.

Wearing a white shirt and black tie, he bowed briefly to the coffin before moving out of Westminster Hall.

“We have been lucky as a nation to have had someone who has led us the way her majesty has led us, for the amount of time, with kindness, with caring and always reassurance,” he said.

The lying in state is due to continue until Monday morning, when the queen's coffin will be taken to nearby Westminster Abbey for a state funeral, the finale to 10 days of national mourning for Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

The queen died aged 96 in Balmoral, Scotland, on September 8 after 70 years on the throne.

Hundreds of heads of state, royals and political leaders from around the world are flying to London to attend the funeral, including US President Joe Biden and Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.

Military personnel on Saturday take part in a full ceremonial rehearsal of Queen Elizabeth II's committal. Getty

After the service at the abbey, the queen’s coffin will be taken through the historic heart of London on a horse-drawn gun carriage.

It will then be taken in a hearse to Windsor, where the queen will be interred alongside her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.

Hundreds of troops from the British army, air force and navy took part in an early morning rehearsal on Saturday for the final procession.

As troops lined The Long Walk, a picturesque path leading to Windsor Castle, the thumping of drums echoed as marching bands walked in front of a hearse.

London police said the funeral would be the largest single policing event the force had handled, passing even the 2012 Summer Olympics and the queen's platinum jubilee in June.

Updated: September 17, 2022, 12:01 PM