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World leaders descend on London to pay tribute to Queen

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Dozens of world leaders and heads of state have begun descending on London to pay their final respects to Queen Elizabeth II, ahead of her funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

The ceremony will be attended by leaders and dignitaries from around the globe, including US president Joe Biden and French president Emmanuel Macron. Nearly 200 members of the public who were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours have also been invited, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

On Sunday, Biden, first lady Dr Jill Biden and US ambassador to the UK, Jane Hartley visited Westminster Hall to pay their respects to the Queen lying in state.

Speaking after his visit, the US president said that the world was “better” because of the late monarch’s influence, adding that the Queen reminded him of his own mother. “I think what she [Queen Elizabeth II] gave was a sense of, above all, the notion of service — we all owe something”.

The service will begin at 11am on Monday and be conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, with a sermon given by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. A committal service will take place at 4pm at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Over the weekend, King Charles III conducted official meetings including with prime ministers of the realm, such as New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, and with military leaders including Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, head of the UK’s Armed Forces.

Speaking on Sunday, Ardern said that the “overriding sentiment” from the King during their meeting was of “gratitude” for the lengths that the public and world leaders were taking to pay their respects.

“You could see that it meant a huge amount to have seen the sheer scale and outpouring of people’s love and affection for her late Majesty,” she told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, members of the public were urged against travelling into central London to join the queue to see the Queen’s lying-in-state, as the government warned of 13-hour waits.

Thousands of visitors have flocked to Westminster Hall to visit the Queen’s coffin, which has been on display since Wednesday.

On Sunday, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport warned that access to the queue for new entrants may be closed later in the day, to allow those already waiting to have the chance to pay their respects. The public has until 6.30am on Monday September 19 to view the late monarch.

“A decision will be taken today on when entry to the queue for Her Majesty the Queen’s lying-in-state will close as it reaches final capacity,” the culture department said. “To avoid disappointment, please do not set off to join the queue.”

The King is expected to receive prime minister Liz Truss at Buckingham Palace later on Sunday afternoon. Truss is also set to have informal meetings with a handful of leaders in Downing Street who are visiting for the funeral, namely Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Polish president Andrzej Duda and Micheál Martin, the Irish taoiseach.

At 8pm on Sunday, there will a national moment of reflection across the UK, with a one-minute silence observed to mark the legacy of the Queen.

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