UK defence minister joins ceremonial guard beside queen's coffin

Britain mourns Queen Elizabeth

LONDON (Reuters) - British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stood guard by Queen Elizabeth's coffin on Thursday as the late monarch lay in state inside parliament's Westminster Hall.

Wallace was acting in his capacity as a member of the Royal Company of Archers which functions as the monarch's body guard in Scotland - one of the protective units involved in keeping constant vigil over the coffin.

Wearing the company's dark green uniform, including a traditional Scottish hat known as a Balmoral bonnet, Wallace took a position in front of the coffin as mourners slowly walked past.

Throughout the four and a half-day vigil, guards stand around the catafalque, a raised platform upon which the coffin rests, rotating their watch every 20 minutes.

Wallace was joined by the government's Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack, who is also a member of the Royal Company of Archers.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Michael Holden)