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William and Harry stand vigil with cousins at Queen’s coffin

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Hundreds of thousands of people have lined up waiting to file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II

All eight of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren stood in silent vigil beside her coffin on Saturday, capping another huge day in which thousands came to pay their last respects, Al Jazeera has reported.Mourners huddled in a line that snaked across London, enduring the city’s coldest night in months and waits that stretched up to 16 hours.

Authorities warned that more chilly weather was expected Saturday night. “Tonight’s forecast is cold. Warm clothing is recommended,” the ministry in charge of the line tweeted.

Princes William and Harry stood in silence at either end of the coffin, heads bowed, for the 15-minute vigil in the vast Westminster Hall where the coffin has been lying since Wednesday, as a line of mourners streamed past the late monarch’s lying-in-state.The Queen died on September 8 at her summer estate in the Scottish highlands, aged 96.Hundreds of thousands of people have lined up for long hours in a queue stretching along the River Thames, waiting to file past the coffin and honour the queen – a testimony to the affection in which she was held.

Earlier on Saturday, Charles and his heir William shook hands and greeted well-wishers in the queue, asking people how long they had been there and whether they were warm enough.To shouts of “God save the king”, Charles and William spoke to mourners near Lambeth Bridge, as they neared the end of the long line to see the lying-in-state in the historic Westminster Hall.

On Friday night, Charles joined his three siblings – Princess Anne and Princes Andrew and Edward – in a silent vigil at the coffin.

“She wouldn’t believe all this, she really wouldn’t,” William was heard telling one man of the late queen, who came to the throne in 1952. “It’s amazing.” One woman told Charles it had been “worth the wait” and others wished him well and cheered as he moved down the line.

In advance of the state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, world leaders also started arriving in the British capital.Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese were among the dignitaries to pay their last respects on Saturday, while New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was seen curtsying to the coffin on Friday.

US President Joe Biden was expected to go to the lying-in-state on Sunday.On Saturday, Charles met leaders of the 14 countries where he is head of state such as Canada, Australia, and Jamaica after meeting the governors general – the people who represent the monarch in overseas realms – at Buckingham Palace.

London’s police force has described the funeral as the biggest security operation it has ever undertaken as prime ministers, presidents and royals come together and huge crowds throng the streets.The king visited police headquarters on Saturday to thank emergency services workers involved in the planning.

Underscoring the risks, police said one man had been arrested after a witness told Sky News he “ran up to the queen’s coffin”. Footage showed a man being pinned to the ground by police officers and taken away.Inside the silent hall, some mourners wept while current soldiers and veterans saluted their former commander-in-chief. Others in the line fell to their knees.

There has been an outpouring of emotion across the country and 10 days of choreographed events since the queen died at Balmoral in Scotland. Her coffin was at first laid at rest in Edinburgh before being flown south to London.The queen’s children have described being overwhelmed by the reaction to their mother’s death.The state funeral, to be attended by nearly 100 presidents and heads of government, is likely to be one of the biggest ceremonial events ever held in the United Kingdom.



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U.S. Ambassador to UN Agencies in Rome Cindy McCain to visit Lanka

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Colombo, September 23, 2022: United States Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome Ambassador Cindy McCain will visit Sri Lanka from September 25-28 to highlight U.S. food assistance programs in Sri Lanka and reinforce the U.S. commitment and lasting partnership with the island nation.

In addition to meeting with senior government officials and aid organizations in Colombo, Ambassador McCain will join U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to travel to Central Province to visit schools, agricultural research facilities, and community organizations and meet with recipients and implementers of relief provided through U.S. government-funded humanitarian assistance programs.

The United States is the single largest country donor to the three United Nations food and agriculture agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP).  U.S.-funded UN projects showcase how the U.S. government, the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the government of Sri Lanka collaborate to reduce food insecurity and advance humanitarian relief, livelihood protection, and agriculture-led economic growth, especially at this critical time of increased global hunger.

The United States has provided partnership and assistance to the people and government of Sri Lanka for more than 70 years.  Since June, Ambassador Chung has overseen the announcement of nearly $240 million in new U.S. government assistance to Sri Lanka, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power’s September 2022 announcements of an additional $40 million to provide Sri Lankan farmers with fertilizer and $20 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the country.

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President urges SL diaspora in the UK to invest in their motherland

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By Sujeeva Nivunhella
reporting from London

President Ranil Wickremesinghe last week urged the Sri Lanka diaspora in the United Kingdom to invest in Sri Lanka projects to revive the economy. Addressing a gathering at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, he said that he is proud that the British Sri Lankan community for making a mark in every field of the UK economy such as trading, services, business, and requested them to come together as Sri Lankans and people of Sri Lankan origin to help build the motherland.

The President added that Sri Lanka is looking at transforming its economy to a competitive export-oriented one to meet the current challenges and build social systems and modernize the education system.

He remarked on the special affection Queen Elizabeth II had towards Sri Lanka as the Head of the Commonwealth and the longest serving Head of State of Ceylon for 20 years prior to the nation becoming a Republic and stated that her passing is the end of an era.

The president, first lady and party arrived in London on Sept. 17 via Dubai by an Emirates flight to attend the State Funeral Service of Queen Elizabeth II.They were received at the Heathrow airport by High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and were driven to the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane, London where they stayed.

On Sunday (Sept. 18), the President accompanied by the First Lady and High Commissioner attended the Lying-in-State of the late Queen at the Palace of Westminster which was followed by a Reception hosted by His Majesty King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.The President and the First Lady attended the State Funeral Service held at the Westminster Abbey on Monday (Sept. 19).  On the same day, he signed the Book of Condolence. The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly MP hosted a reception for the visiting world leaders at Church House.

On 20th September, the President met the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland QC. They discussed Sri Lanka’s engagement with the Commonwealth Secretariat and matters of mutual interest. He also visited the London Buddhist Vihara during which Ven Dr Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Incumbent of the Vihara and the Chief Sanga Nayaka of Great Britain invoked blessings on the President and the people of Sri Lanka.

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Families countrywide facing malnutrition, says Cardinal

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By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has warned that the prevailing economic crisis and increasing unemployment and food prices are accelerating malnutrition among hundred thousands of families countrywide.

Addressing a ceremony at the annual get-together of the Archdiocesan Family Apostolate Service held at St Peter’s College Auditorium in Colombo, the Archbishop said that it was a shame that responsible local officials keep denying the prevailing status quo when world humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF continue to warn of the increasing malnutrition levels among children.

Many international organizations have pointed out that malnutrition in Sri Lanka was increasing at an alarming rate but the authorities responsible are hiding the truth and go to the extent of rejecting such reports.

“If they reject the reports of international organizations, then it is their paramount duty of conduct proper surveys to understand the situation. It is no secret that large numbers of Lankan families are starving due to the high prices of food. According to the UNICEF more than six million people consume only a single meal a day. It is so unfortunate that Health Ministry officials who spend their times in the air conditioned rooms in Colombo do not know the plight of the poor in rural areas,” the Cardinal said.He said that 225 MPs were concerned only of their well-being while continuing to ignore the actual and pressing issues of people.

“This country is in dire situation today mainly due to inefficient and corrupt political leaders. It is sad that these so-called people’s representatives are not concerned of the situation of people who are experiencing the worst ever economic and political crisis this country has ever faced,” the Cardinal said.

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