OPINION - King Charles III leads procession behind the Queen’s coffin

·3-min read
 (Ben Turner)
(Ben Turner)

If there is one building that exemplifies the great sweep of English (later British) history and the pitch battles – sometimes literally – that marked the development of constitutional monarchy in this country, it is Westminster Hall.

Constructed in 1097 under the reign of William II, son of William the Conquerer, it has been the site of courts, coronations and trials, most notably that of Charles I in 1649.

More recently, it is the place where great women and men have addressed both houses of Parliament. Not only royalty but presidents, popes and the Dalai Lama.

And from personal experience, no matter the weather outside, Westminster Hall is by several degrees the coldest place on the Parliamentary Estate. I’m sure it’s something to do with the magnificent hammer-beam roof – the largest medieval timber roof in Northern Europe – measuring 68 by 240 feet, commissioned in a relatively recent 1393 by Richard II.

So when King Charles III spoke of feeling the weight of history this morning, it wasn’t only that of his predecessor, Elizabeth II, to whom he was referring.

Rather than delve deeper into today’s speech, or the poignant images of the King leading a procession behind the Queen’s coffin in Edinburgh this afternoon, I thought it might be appropriate to point to some significant stories over the last few days that have been understandably obscured by recent events.

Ukraine has made substantial gains following its offensive in the northeast of the country around Kharkiv. The Institute for the Study of War, a US think tank, says the operation has “doomed” the initial Russian campaign plan for this phase of the conflict. While the Ministry of Defence confirms Ukrainian troops have recaptured territory twice the size of Greater London.

In London, protests took place over the weekend following the death of Chris Kaba, 24, in Streatham Hill after he was shot dead by a Met firearms officer. The Independent Office for Police Conduct has since launched a homicide investigation into his death, but Scotland Yard is yet to confirm if any of the officers involved have been disciplined.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham and Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, have both signed a letter calling it “incomprehensible” that the officer has not been disciplined.

Treasury permanent secretary Tom Scholar left the department on Thursday, in what some commentators have criticised as an attack on the independence of the civil service.

Scientists have discovered how air pollution leads to cancer, in a remarkable breakthrough that could transform how we treat the disease.

And Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz have won the US Open singles titles. The latter becomes the youngest men’s world number one in history. There is also a new Chelsea manager, but if you missed it, another one will come along shortly.

In the comment pages, Defence Editor Robert Fox says that after 200 days, this is a turning point in the Ukraine war. While Tanya Gold confirms that while Queen Elizabeth had homes across the country she was a Londoner. And after Tanya snuck into a Buckingham Palace Garden Party, also a marketing genius.

And finally, a brief history of the Queen’s corgis — including what happens to them now.

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