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Old and young Britons honour departed Queen, greet new King

World Sep 13, 2022 12:22PM ET
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© Reuters. King Charles III and the Queen Consort meet members of the public on a walkabout in Writer's Square, Belfast, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Picture date: Tuesday September 13, 2022. Liam McBurney/Pool via REUTERS

By Stuart McDill

LONDON (Reuters) - Elderly British army veterans known as the Chelsea Pensioners honoured Queen Elizabeth in London on Tuesday with a solemn historical rite, while in Northern Ireland a beaming schoolboy shook with glee and gestured to friends after shaking King Charles' hand.

Even newborn babies in their parents' arms were among the thousands waiting in line in Edinburgh to file past the queen's coffin or meet new monarch King Charles in Northern Ireland, as the very young and very old joined in mourning the Queen and welcoming the new King.

Gathered outside London's Royal Hospital, a retirement and nursing home for veteran soldiers founded during the reign of Charles II in 1681, the Chelsea Pensioners wore dark uniforms and held a Drumhead Service of Remembrance.

"The queen will be with us forever," said 70-year-old David Godwin after the service, adding he had a picture of her on his wall.

Fellow Chelsea pensioner John Gallagher, 79, praised Charles and said he had taken to his new role like a natural.

"He's coming across strong, knows what he's doing, not afraid of saying what he believes and I don't think he's got any nerves at the moment."

According to the pensioners, the Drumhead service originated in the 1700s when soldiers about to go into battle wanted a place for remembrance of their fallen comrades and would pile drums on top of each other to form a makeshift altar.


In Northern Ireland, one young well-wisher appeared overcome with joy after having the chance to shake hands with both King Charles and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort.

Footage broadcast from their visit to Hillsborough Castle showed them both shaking hands with a boy among a group of schoolchildren.

Charles shook the boy's left hand and shortly after Camilla shook his right. The boy stared at his hands, then shook his arms with delight.

Striking in the queue outside Edinburgh's St Giles Cathedral were the many babies, far too young to understand the events around them, but taken by their parents to walk past the Queen's coffin.

"We will tell her when she's old enough to understand that she was here, part of the history, at such a sad, sombre time," said the father of three-month-old baby Isla.

"We've come to pay our respects because the queen is all we know as the monarchy in our country," said Isla's mother, as she fed her baby with a bottle.

David had come with his five-month old son Jack. "We will be able to tell him he was there," he said.

In London, where mourners will be able to pay their respects to the queen from Wednesday, those waiting in line were in good spirits.

"I feel absolutely fabulous. And I'm happy to be here. It could rain, snow, hail. It doesn't really bother me. We are well prepared and I'm just here because my heart is bringing me here today and I just want to be able to experience and to say thank you once again for the queen," said Stephen from Wakefield.

Old and young Britons honour departed Queen, greet new King

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