Charles receives Queen’s coffin at Buckingham Palace
King Charles III and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, travelled to Northern Ireland on Tuesday before returning to London to receive Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin at Buckingham Palace after a journey starting at the St Giles’ Cathedral in Scotland. The coffin’s arrival at the palace in London – for what The Times called “A last night at the palace” – marked the first time the queen has been back in England since her death in Scotland. The hearse arrived to cheers outside of Buckingham Palace as the street was lined with mourners.
650,000 waiting in 35-hour queue to see queen’s coffin
Royal fans are already sleeping on pavements for the queen’s lying in state in London before the line even opens today amid warnings mourners could face waiting up to 35 hours as the capital braces for a surge in visitors despite the venue opening for 24 hours a day from 5pm today until 6.30am next Monday – the day of the funeral. But with between 750,000 and one million people expected to want to pay tribute, many are likely to miss out. A million people are expected to want to view the funeral itself, which is comparable with the numbers in the capital for Princess Diana’s service in 1997. Rail bosses are drawing up plans for 24-hour trains into London to deal with ‘unprecedented travel demand’ and Transport for London said some stations could shut if there are crowd control issues. Hotels had seen a major spike in bookings since the queen’s death last Thursday, with block bookings for accommodation for extra police and other personnel contributing to this. Hotel prices are now up to four times higher for this Sunday – the night before the funeral – compared with a week later, and demand to stay in London over the next fortnight is now at its highest level since the 2012 Olympics.
EU’s State of the Union speech today
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is set to deliver her State of the Union speech later this morning before a full house of the European Parliament. The Ukraine war and the energy crisis are set to feature prominently. The State of the European Union is an annual address used by the president of the Commission to present the main political priorities, objectives and initiatives of the next legislative year. For this reason, it takes place in mid-September, after MEPs come back from their summer recess. In the wide-ranging speech, which lasts between 40 minutes and one hour, the Commission chief also reflects upon the greatest achievements and – within the careful limits of institutional self-criticism – the mistakes made over the past 12 months. von der Leyen has invited Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska as her guest at the European Parlament Plenary. “The courage of the Ukrainian people has moved and inspired the whole world. Europe will be at your side at all times. #StandStrongTogether”, she wrote in a tweet.
‘Russia now wants to negotiate after a counter-offensive’ – Kiev
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna has told France 2that Russian officials have contacted Kiev in recent days to negotiate – a move that according to her is linked to the recent Ukrainian counter-offensive , which Moscow would now like to try to stop. Stefanishyna also admitted that her country was “preparing for the worst scenario” in terms of Russian retaliation, but that so far Ukraine “has not been taken by surprise”. She urged EU leaders to impose more sanctions on Russia, especially targeting the energy sector.
‘Several Russian soldiers withdrew from Kharkiv’ – USA
The Pentagon has said itfound that “several Russian soldiers” withdrew from the region of Kharkiv. The spokesman for the US Department of Defence, General Pat Ryder, said: “We have seen a number of forces from Moscow, especially in the north-east, cross the border to return to Russia. However, soldiers from Moscow are still found en masse in Ukrainian territory.”
Pope Francis calls for end to Ukraine war
Pope Francis, in Kazakhstan, again called for an end of “the senseless and tragic war that broke out with the invasion of Ukraine, even as other conflicts and threats of conflict continue to imperil our times”. The pontiff said he was pressing for diplomatic efforts to be expanded to promote dialogue.
The pope travelled to Kazakhstan to attend an international religious gathering, but said he was also in the country on a “pilgrimage of dialogue and peace”. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is an ally of Russia but has refused to support Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
US mulls China sanctions
The US is contemplating a sanctions package against China aimed at deterring Beijing from invading Taiwan. Taipei has placed pressure on its allies, including the European Union, to do more to remind the mainland that invasion would be a bad idea. No details on what the sanctions would entail, but Chinese reaction to Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August certainly prompted the new action.
Fighting erupts between Armenia and Azerbaijan
Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan flared up again on Tuesday, with both sides reporting intense artillery shelling and nearly 100 dead. At around midnight, Azerbaijani forces shelled Armenian troops at three locations along the border. Azerbaijan said it was responding to a buildup of Armenian landmines and weapons near the border. Armenia fired back in retaliation. The clash raisedconcern that war could break out again in the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. For decades, the two former Soviet states have disagreed over Nagorno-Karabakh, controlled by Armenians but internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Tuesday, Russia said the two countries had reached a new ceasefire agreement; 2,000 Russian peacekeeping forces remain in the region.
Top Russian manager dies after falling from a yacht
The director general of Russia’s Far East and Arctic Development Corporation, Ivan Pechorin, 39, one of Putin’s closest top managers, was found dead on Russky Island, in the Sea of Japan, off the Russian Far East. Pechorin had participated in the Economic Forum of the East, chaired by Putin in Vladivostok. The death would have occurred in the days immediately following with the official cause being the fall into the sea from his sailing yacht. The body was recovered at sea on Monday. There have already been13 Russian oligarchs and managers who have died in a mysterious way since January.
Bayern fans protest impact of Queen’s death on football
Bayern Munich supporters protested against football fans being impacted by the death of Queen Elizabeth II during their Champions League fixture against Barcelona, unfurling a banner that called for authorities to “respect fans”. The Premier League postponed a full fixture programme last weekend following the passing of the UK’s longest-reigning monarch, with the English Football League doing likewise. The situation has also impacted European football: Arsenal’s Europa League clash with PSV has been called off, while Rangers’ Champions League meeting with Napoli was pushed back by one day to today. Policing issues also mean Napoli are unable to take any supporters to Scotland for that match, which coach Luciano Spalletti described as a “real penalty”. Against this backdrop, Bayern’s fans displayed a message in their match against Barcelona, which read: “Last-minute match delays and bans because of a royal’s death? Respect fans!”
Meanwhile, tributes to the queen were respectfully observed across 30 English football leaguegames and at Liverpool and Tottenham’s Champions League matches as UK football resumed after the weekend’s postponements. At almost all matches the National Anthem was played. A ‘period of silence’was held at league games as well as Liverpool and Tottenham’s Champions League matches.