Live updates: Military rehearse queen’s Windsor procession

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

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

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 One told the BBC the invitation should be rescinded because of human rights abuses in the treatment of the Uyghur ethnic group in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang.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.

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LONDON — King Charles III and his three siblings have stood vigil around their mother’s coffin as it lies in state at Westminster Hall in London.

Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward stood with their backs to the flag-draped coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, their heads bowed.

Members of the public who had lined up for hours to pay their last respects continued to file past as the royals stood vigil in the historic event.

On Saturday, the queen’s eight grandchildren will hold a similar vigil.

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