'Sign from the heavens': Rainbows appear above Westminster and Windsor on eve of Queen's funeral
LONDON, UK: On the eve of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, rainbows were witnessed above Westminster and Windsor as Londoners admired the gorgeous crimson sky over the Big Ben, on Sunday, September 18. The Queen, who served as the nation's foremost figurehead for more than 70 years and was the longest-reigning monarch in British history, appeared to get a last farewell from the heavens.
Elizabeth II frequently stayed at Windsor Castle, notably following the passing of her husband, Prince Consort Prince Philip, in April 2021. The tower that houses Big Ben's bell was also given its name by Her Majesty. It was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. In addition, rainbows could be seen above the line of mourners who had been waiting all night to view the Queen lying-in-state. On the day of the Queen's death, on September 8, rainbows were observed outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
The largest security operation London has ever seen is taking place for the Queen's burial. With hundreds of thousands of people congregating in central London and a guest list of 500 dignitarie, Mayor Sadiq Khan claims that the burial on Monday, September 19, presented an "unprecedented" security problem.
"It's been decades since this many world leaders were in one place," Khan said. "This is unprecedented in relation to the various things that we're juggling. There could be bad people wanting to cause damage to individuals or to some of our world leaders," he told The Associated Press. "So we are working incredibly hard - the police, the security services and many, many others - to make sure this state funeral is as successful as it can be," he said. This operation, according to Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy, is bigger than the London 2012 Olympics.
"Our response here in London will be proportionate, it will be balanced, and officers will only be taking action where it is absolutely necessary," he said. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said the goal was to keep the event safe, "and try to do it in as unobtrusive a way as possible, because this is obviously a solemn occasion."
On Monday, there will be more than 10,000 police officers working, including additional officers from each of the 43 police departments in the United Kingdom. Along the parade path, hundreds of volunteer marshals and military personnel will serve as stewards. They are only the most noticeable aspect of a security operation that is managed by a cutting-edge command center close to Lambeth Bridge and not far from the Parliament. Garbage cans and street drains are being inspected and sealed. Police spotters will be on the roofs, as well as sniffing dogs, maritime cops, and mounted police riding horses in the streets.
In order to prevent aircraft noise from disturbing the burial ceremony, flying drones above Central London has been temporarily forbidden, and Heathrow Airport is canceling a large number of flights. The difficulty for the authorities is to keep 500 international leaders secure without upsetting too many diplomatic relations. Except for US President Joe Biden, who is anticipated to arrive in his guarded vehicle known as The Beast. Dignitaries will congregate offsite before being transported by bus to the abbey.
Almost a million people will throng Westminster Abbey and along the path the casket will take after the funeral, via Buckingham Palace to Hyde Park. It will then be transported by hearse 20 miles away to Windsor, where 2,000 more police officers will be on duty. The Queen will rest with her late husband at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.