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Live updates: Biden arrives in London for queen’s funeral

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LONDON — U.S. President Joe Biden has arrived in London to pay his respects to Queen Elizabeth II.

The president was expected to sign the official condolence book and attend a reception Sunday at Buckingham Palace hosted by King Charles III before attending the queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

Biden is among many world leaders traveling to the United Kingdom to honor Queen Elizabeth’s long reign. Biden and first lady Jill Biden were greeted at the airport by U.K. Ambassador Jane Hartley, Lord Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst and others.

After the queen’s death, Biden issued a proclamation directing that all American flags be flown at half staff “as a mark of respect for the memory of Queen Elizabeth II” until sunset on the day of her interment. Before coming to London, he spoke with the king to offer his condolences and went to the British Embassy as well.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

— The queen’s eight grandchildren stand vigil beside her coffin Saturday evening

— Queen’s death both a challenge and a reprieve for new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss

— US-UK relations enter new chapter as new PM, king settle in

— Crowds paying respects to queen boost London tourism amid slump

— Queen’s death triggers media bonanza that has been at work for decades

— In Yemen, queen’s death recalls oppression under British colonial rule

— Once home to a princess, Malta remembers a queen

— Find more AP coverage here: https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

LONDON — The daughters of Prince Andrew and his former wife, Sarah Ferguson, say in a touching statement that they will miss their “Grannie,” the late Queen Elizabeth II, and thanked her for her support.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie wrote: “We, like many, thought you’d be here forever. And we all miss you terribly. You were our matriarch, our guide, our loving hand on our backs leading us through this world. You taught us so much and we will cherish those lessons and memories forever.”

The sisters, who issued their statement before standing vigil Saturday evening at the queen’s coffin with all of te queen’s eight grandchildren. They added they were happy that the queen, who died Sept. 8 at age 96, is reunited with her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.

They say: “Goodbye dear Grannie, it has been the honour of our lives to have been your granddaughters and we’re so very proud of you. We know that dear Uncle Charles, the king, will continue to lead in your example as he too has dedicated his life to service.”

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LONDON — All eight of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren stood in silent vigil beside her coffin early Saturday evening.

King Charles III’s sons, William and Prince Harry, were joined by Princess Anne’s children, Zara Tindall and Peter Philips; Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie; and the two children of Prince Edward – Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.

William, now the heir to the throne, stood, his head bowed, at the head of the coffin and Harry at the foot. Both princes, who are military veterans, were in uniform.

Mourners continued to file past in silence as the grandchildren stood vigil.

Harry, who served in Afghanistan as a British army officer, wore civilian clothes days ago during the procession of the queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace because he is no longer a working member of the royal family. But the king requested that both his sons wear their military uniforms at the Westminster Hall vigil.

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LONDON — U.S. President Joe Biden headed to the United Kingdom on Saturday to pay his respects to Queen Elizabeth II at a time of transition in US-UK relations, as both a new royal and a new prime minister are settling in.

The hawkish approach of new Prime Minister Liz Truss to Russia and China puts her on the same page as Biden. But the rise of Truss, 47, who once called the U.S.-U.K. relationship “special but not exclusive,” could mark a decidedly new chapter in the trans-Atlantic partnership.

Biden and Truss had been set to meet Sunday, but the prime minister’s office said Saturday they would skip the weekend hello, opting instead for a meeting at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

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LONDON — The line for people with disabilities and mobility issues who want to pay their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II as her coffin lies in state has been closed.

The government announced Saturday afternoon that the queue “has reached full capacity and is now permanently closed.”

It says that all time slots have been allocated for those who are entitled to join the “accessible” queue which is for people who have a disability or condition that means they cannot line up for extended periods of time. It is separate to the main queue, which remains open with waiting times around 13 hours.

The queen, who died Sept. 8 at age 96 after 70 years on the throne, is lying in state at the Houses of Parliament until early Monday morning, hours before her funeral.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Liz Truss has met her counterparts from Australia and New Zealand who have arrived in town ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on Monday.

Truss met with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand Premier Jacinda Ardern at the government’s Chevening country residence outside London on Saturday.

Ardern said the talks would focus on the queen’s death and King Charles III, as well as the war in Ukraine and the U.K.’s free trade agreement with New Zealand.

Truss’ meeting with Albanese will likely also touch on trade. The Australian leader signed a condolence book for the queen’s family with his partner, Jodie Haydon. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also signed the book.

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LONDON — While thousands of mourners line up along the River Thames to pay their last respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II, others are already staking out prime viewing locations in the heart of London for the late monarch’s funeral on Monday.

Shirin Thorpe, 62, from Sevenoaks south of the English capital, arrived Thursday and was camped out Saturday near Westminster subway station. It’s near the historic hall where the queen is lying in state and Westminster Abbey, where her funeral will be held.

She says, “There’s going to be millions of people here and we didn’t want to miss the chance.”

Thorpe and her friends are well prepared for a few nights of camping amid cold temperatures: They’ve brought inflatable mattresses, sleeping bags, winter coats and battery packs to keep gadgets running. They have hung Union Jack flags from security barriers and added a photograph of Elizabeth.

While the sun was shining Saturday, Thorpe says she’s ready to brave worse weather should it come.

She says, “We’re tough women like the Queen.”

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LONDON — King Charles III is making an unannounced visit to greet people waiting to file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Charles and his son, Prince William, shook hands and thanked mourners in the miles-long queue near Lambeth Bridge on Saturday.

Charles has made several impromptu walkabouts since he became king on Sept. 8, in an attempt to meet as many of his subjects as possible.

Thousands of people are lining up to see the queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall, despite waiting times of 16 hours or more.

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LONDON — King Charles III is spending much of the day meeting dignitaries who have arrived in London for his mother’s funeral on Monday.

On Saturday morning, he held an audience at Buckingham Palace with the country’s military chiefs, who have provided thousands of armed forces personnel to take part in the pageantry surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral as well as helping line crowd-packed roads and performing other ceremonial duties.

In the early afternoon, the king was holding a reception for Governors General of the Realms – the monarch’s representatives in the U.K.’s former colonies ranging from Antigua and Barbuda to Tuvalu.

And later in the day, Charles was meeting prime ministers including Justin Trudeau of Canada, Anthony Albanese of Australia, Philip Davis of the Bahamas, Andrew Holness of Jamaica and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.

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WINDSOR, England — Hundreds of troops from the British army, air force and navy have taken part in the first full rehearsal of the procession that will bring the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II to its final resting place.

With troops lining The Long Walk, a picturesque path leading to Windsor Castle, the thumping of drums echoed as marching bands walked ahead of a hearse early Saturday.

On Monday, they will do the same, only surrounded by thousands of people expected to travel to Windsor for a final farewell to the queen, who died last week at age 96.

Her funeral is to be held at Westminster Abbey on Monday before some 2,000 guests, including visiting heads of state. After the church service, the late queen’s coffin will be transported through the historic heart of London on a horse-drawn gun carriage.

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

Some people who won’t be in Windsor on Monday decided to wake up early to watch Saturday’s rehearsal.

Local resident Katharine Horsfall said she set her alarm for 3:15 a.m. She said: “I think it will be an amazing tribute to the queen, a great send off, with all the pageantry that she so well deserves.”

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BEIJING — China announced Saturday that Vice President Wang Qishan would attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II as the special representative of President Xi Jinping.

A group of British legislators sanctioned by China have expressed concern that the Chinese government has been invited to the funeral. One told the BBC the invitation should be rescinded because of human rights abuses in the treatment of the Uyghur ethnic group in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang.

Wang, who is close to Xi, was a member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful, seven-member Politburo Standing Committee from 2012 to 2017. During those years, he led a crackdown on corruption that has been one of Xi’s signature initiatives as China’s leader.

Wang was named to the largely ceremonial post of vice president in 2018 and often attends events on Xi’s behalf.

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TOKYO — Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako left for Britain on Saturday to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral to pay respects to her and the British royal family who considered as a model for Japan’s monarchy in modern history.

The decision for the emperor and empress to attend the queen’s funeral underscores the importance and the deep bond between the royal families. Traditionally, a Japanese emperor stays away from funerals except for those of their own parents because of a cultural belief based in the Shinto religion that considers death impure.

Former Emperor Akihito, as crown prince, attended the Queen’s 1953 coronation and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Queen Elizabeth visited Japan in 1975.

Naruhito and Masako’s trip to Britain is their first as the Emperor and Empress. The Queen’s invitation for them to visit following Naruhito’s 2019 ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

By The Associated Press

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