Queen’s children led by Charles walk behind late monarch’s coffin

·4-min read

King Charles III has led the royal family in a poignant display of respect for the late Queen – walking behind the monarch’s coffin with his siblings.

Expressionless and looking straight ahead, Charles was joined by the Princess Royal, Earl of Wessex and Duke of York as they followed the hearse carrying the Queen’s oak coffin.

It travelled from the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the sovereign’s official Edinburgh home, to St Giles Cathedral, where a service of thanksgiving for the life of the late monarch was held before the public pay their respects.

Draped with the Royal Standard of Scotland and with a wreath of Balmoral flowers, the Queen’s coffin was placed at the head of the congregation and was given the honour of having the Crown of Scotland placed on top.

Following in a car was the Queen Consort and the Countess of Wessex but the new Prince of Wales and his brother Harry did not take part in the procession.

Reverend Calum MacLeod, Minister of St Giles’, welcomed the royal family, “representatives of our nation’s life” and “people whose lives were touched by the Queen in so many unforgettable ways”.

He said: “We gather to bid Scotland’s farewell to our late monarch, whose life of service to the nation and the world we celebrate. And whose love for Scotland was legendary.”

Earlier, during an event at Westminster Hall in London, where both Houses of Parliament gathered to express their condolences to the new monarch, the King promised “faithfully to follow” the example of his mother.

The new King quoted Shakespeare when he responded to the formal expression of condolence from MPs and peers, spoke movingly about the tributes to his mother and described the “weight of history” as he stood inside the historic hall.

His son the Duke of Sussex issued a heartfelt statement about the Queen and thanked his grandmother for her “sound advice” and “infectious smile”.

Harry revealed the Queen had met his children a few months before her death: “Granny, while this final parting brings us great sadness, I am forever grateful for all of our first meetings – from my earliest childhood memories with you, to meeting you for the first time as my Commander-in-Chief, to the first moment you met my darling wife and hugged your beloved great-grandchildren.”

In bright autumn sunshine, the procession set off at a slow walking pace, with the Queen’s children arranged by age, with the eldest Charles on the right and Anne, Andrew and Edward on his left, with Anne’s husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence behind them.

A hush descended on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile as the crowds 10-deep first caught sight of the procession which featured the coffin’s bearer party – servicemen from the Royal Regiment of Scotland – flanking the hearse and they in turn were flanked by the King’s Body Guard for Scotland.

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(Left to right) King Charles III, the Princess Royal and the Duke of York taking part in the procession (Phil Noble/PA)

The silence was broken at one point by a woman who called out “God bless the Queen” a number of times and many of the public held up camera phones to record the historic moment.

All those in the procession walked in step, moving from side to side as one, within touching distance of the coffin draped with the Royal Standard of Scotland with a wreath of Balmoral flowers on top.

The Rt​ Rev Dr Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, delivered the homily during the thanksgiving service attended by Prime Minister Liz Truss, who has joined the new King during his tour of the four home nations to received messages of condolence in person.

He said about the Queen: “She was determined to see her work as a form of service to others, and she maintained that steady course until the end of her life.”

The senior minister added: “And although sometimes buffeted by events around her, she continued resolutely and cheerfully to fulfil her responsibilities. And so today we give thanks not only for the length of her reign but for the qualities she displayed so steadfastly.”

When the new King addressed peers and MPs in London, Charles said: “I am deeply grateful for the addresses of condolence.”

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The royal family during the service of thanksgiving (Jane Barlow/PA)

He said the addresses “touchingly encompass what our late sovereign, my beloved mother the Queen, meant to us all”.

Charles once again reached for Shakespeare, after quoting from the play Hamlet in his address to the nation last week.

“As Shakespeare says of the earlier Queen Elizabeth, she was ‘a pattern to all princes living’.

“As I stand before you today, I cannot help but feel the weight of history which surrounds us and which reminds us of the vital parliamentary traditions to which members of both Houses dedicate yourselves with such personal commitment, for the betterment of us all.”

The Queen’s coffin will remain at St Giles’ Cathedral for a 24-hour period before being flown to London on Tuesday evening ahead of the monarch lying in state at Westminster Hall from Wednesday, before the state funeral next Monday.