Queen’s children surround her coffin in sombre vigil

·4-min read
King Charles III, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex hold a vigil beside the coffin of their mother (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
King Charles III, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex hold a vigil beside the coffin of their mother (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

The King and his siblings have stood in silent contemplation as they guarded their mother’s coffin in Westminster Hall.

The Queen’s children – Charles, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex – took part in the vigil on Friday as a steady stream of mourners filed past to pay their final respects.

The sovereign, Anne, Andrew and Edward looked sombre as they took their places at the coffin – four days after they took part in a vigil in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.

King Charles III, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)
King Charles III, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Wire)

The King stood at one end of the coffin, head down and hands clasped, while the Duke of York was at the opposite end facing the area where the queue of mourners enter the hall.

Other members of the royal family, including the Queen Consort, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence and the Countess of Wessex, along with some of the Queen’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren, looked on.

Camilla, Sophie, Lady Louise and Viscount Severn, Zara and Mike Tindall, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice stood on a raised platform overlooking the coffin during the vigil.

All four of the Queen’s children were dressed in uniform, with an exception made for disgraced Andrew, who is no longer a working royal, to wear his military uniform as a “special mark of respect” for the Queen.

The King wore Royal Navy Ceremonial Dress, while the Earl of Wessex wore the Blues Uniform with the rank of Honorary Royal Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.

Members of the royal family observe the vigil (Hannah McKay/PA) (PA Wire)
Members of the royal family observe the vigil (Hannah McKay/PA) (PA Wire)

Anne was in the uniform of Blues and Royals, while Andrew was wearing a Vice Admiral uniform.

Andrew stepped down from public life after the furore over his friendship with paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

He later paid millions to settle a civil sexual assault case to a woman he claimed never to have met.

In January, ahead of his legal settlement, the Queen stripped him of all of his honorary military roles, including Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, and he gave up his HRH style.

A former Royal Navy officer who served in the Falklands War, Andrew retained his rank as a Vice Admiral.

Virginia Giuffre sued him for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was 17 after she was trafficked by Epstein. Andrew denied the claims.

At the service of thanksgiving in Edinburgh on Monday, Andrew was in a morning suit, while his siblings, including Edward, who dropped out of the Royal Marines, wore military dress as they processed behind the Queen’s coffin.

King Charles (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
King Charles (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

On Friday, many of the mourners filing past the coffin during the vigil bowed their heads, while some had tears in their eyes.

One woman who was weeping was comforted by a member of staff before she left the hall.

Before leaving, many mourners turned to take one last look at the coffin and the silent vigil that was under way.

After leaving the hall, the King and his siblings were given a round of applause by people in the queue.

Their arrival at 7.46pm was heralded by the tapping noise which takes place before each changing of the guard.

Charles, followed by Anne, Edward and Andrew, walked down the steps to the side of the north door.

The silence in the vast hall, where the flow of mourners had been briefly paused, was only broken by the sound of their footsteps on the stone as they made their way up to the coffin.

The Duke of York (Hannah McKay/PA) (PA Wire)
The Duke of York (Hannah McKay/PA) (PA Wire)

They were in position by 7.48pm and stood guard until 8pm.

As they made their way towards the north side of the hall and over to the steps, a couple of women curtseyed as Charles passed.

The Queen has been lying in state in London since Wednesday and thousands of mourners have queued for hours to get into Westminster Hall.

On Saturday, the Queen’s grandchildren will take part in a vigil at her coffin, and the Duke of Sussex will join his brother the Prince of Wales in wearing uniform.

Royal sources said the decision to allow Harry to wear his uniform during the vigil was made by his father.

The Duke of York (Hannah McKay/PA) (PA Wire)
The Duke of York (Hannah McKay/PA) (PA Wire)

Harry, who saw action on the front line during two tours of duty in Afghanistan, has been denied the chance to wear his military uniform as he publicly mourns, because he is no longer a working royal.

Despite being a former Army officer, he has been in civilian dress for official events, including walking behind his grandmother’s coffin on Wednesday when it was carried to Westminster Hall for lying in state.

The source said William will stand at the head while Harry will stand at the foot.

At the King’s request, they will both be in uniform. The other grandchildren will be in morning coat and dark formal dress with decorations.

The source said the grandchildren, at the King’s invitation, were very keen to pay their respects – just as their parents have done on Friday.