The King and his sons walk behind Queen’s coffin ahead of lying in state

·4-min read

The King and his sons William and Harry walked solemnly behind the Queen’s coffin as she left Buckingham Palace for the final time ahead of her lying in state.

  • William and Harry walked side-by-side behind their father

  • All viewing areas for the procession were full, London's City Hall said

  • The Queen will lie in state for four days ahead of her funeral on Monday

  • The King has travelled more than 1,500 miles around the UK in his first week on the throne

  • US President Joe Biden called the King on Wednesday to offer his condolences on the death of his mother

Pulled on a gun carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery past silent crowds, the oak coffin was draped with a Royal Standard and adorned with the priceless, glittering Imperial State Crown.

Thousands of mourners flocked to see the moving sight of the Queen departing the official residence where she spent so much of her working life at the heart of the nation, with viewing areas declared full ahead of the procession starting.

The King walked in line with the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex.

Behind the quartet were the Queen’s grandsons in a line – Peter Phillips, the Duke of Sussex and the Prince of Wales.

The King led members of the royal family, including the Princess Royal, the the Duke of York, and the Earl of Wessex in the solemn procession
The King led his sons and other members of the royal family in the solemn procession (Henry Nicholls/PA)
William and Harry walked side-by-side behind the King during the procession
William and Harry walked side-by-side behind the King during the procession (Gareth Fuller/PA)

In bright summer sunshine, funeral marches played by military bands added to the solemn mood that left some mourners weeping, while others held up their camera phones to record the historic moment.

The Queen’s coffin was transported on the George Gun Carriage, which carried King George VI’s coffin from Sandringham Church to Wolferton Station in February 1952 and was used during the funeral of the Queen Mother in 2002.

The Queen's coffin was carried by gun carriage to Westminster Hall for the lying in state
The Queen’s coffin was carried by gun carriage to Westminster Hall for the lying in state (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Coldstream Guards gathered outside Buckingham Palace ahead of the procession
The Coldstream Guards gathered outside Buckingham Palace ahead of the procession (Daniel Leal/PA

During the service at Westminster Hall, the senior royals stood in formation facing the coffin on its purple-covered catafalque, which was flanked with a tall, yellow flickering candle at each corner of the wide scarlet platform.

The Duchess of Sussex appeared to take a deep breath as the Queen’s coffin passed in front of her.

Harry and Meghan during the service
Harry and Meghan joined the service alongside the Prince and Princess of Wales (Gregorio Borgia/PA)
Peter Phillips, the Duke of Sussex, the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Wessex, the Duchess of Sussex and the Princes of Wales stood together during the service
Peter Phillips, the Duke of Sussex, the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Wessex, the Duchess of Sussex and the Princes of Wales stood together during the service (Alkis Konstantinidis/PA)

Cries of “God save the King” could be heard as the King and the Queen Consort left.

The King stopped to speak to the Archbishop of Canterbury, with Archbishop Justin Welby nodding as he greeted Charles, with the pair sharing a few words.

Shortly after the arrival of the coffin at Westminster Hall, US President Joe Biden said he had spoken to the King on Wednesday to offer his condolences and shared the “great admiration of the American people” for the Queen.

Four officers from the Household Cavalry – two from the Life Guards and two from the Blues and Royals – began the first six-hour vigil around the coffin, taking their places at the corner of the catafalque.

Four officers from the Household Cavalry began the first six-hour vigil around the coffin
Four officers from the Household Cavalry began the first six-hour vigil around the coffin (Jacob King/PA)

Mourners have already joined the queue to attend the Queen’s lying in state, which continues until 6.30am on Monday, the day of the Queen’s state funeral.

As of 5.20pm on Monday, a live tracker run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport showed the queue was around 2.9 miles long, stretching as far as London Bridge.

The queue stretched down the South Bank as mourners waited to walk by the Queen's coffin
The queue stretched down the South Bank as mourners waited to walk by the Queen’s coffin (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Government guidance warns that mourners joining the queue will need to stand for “many hours, possibly overnight” and with very little opportunity to sit down.