King Charles III and his siblings Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward had held a brief vigil beside Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin in Westminster Hall on Friday, joining members of the military who have mounted a continuous watch over her remains for the past two days.
Standing quietly, their heads bowed, the King was at the head of the Queen’s coffin, while his sister Anne, the Princess Royal, and brother Edward, the Earl of Wessex, were on the sides. Andrew, the Duke of York, was at the coffin’s foot.
In a break with royal tradition, Prince Andrew – the Queen’s second son – wore his military uniform for the vigil. While custom dictates that only working members of the royal family wear military uniforms during ceremonial occasions, Andrew was allowed to wear his as a mark of special respect for the Queen. The King, Anne and Edward were also in military dress.
Andrew stepped away from his royal duties in 2019 over his ties to disgraced financier and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Many other members of the royal family came to observe the vigil. Camilla, the Queen Consort, accompanied the King, standing beside Princess Anne’s husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.
Prince Edward’s wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, was also there along with her two children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
The Queen’s granddaughters Zara Tindall and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were there, as was the Queen’s cousin Prince Michael of Kent.
Seen for the first time since the Queen’s death last Thursday, some of the Queen’s youngest great-grandchildren including Mia and Lena Tindall were also in attendance.
The Queen has been lying in state in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster, since Wednesday. The medieval hall is where the Queen’s ancestors also lay in state. Her father King George VI in 1952, her mother Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 2002, her grandfather George V in 1936 and her great-grandfather Edward VII in 1910 – the first royal to lie in state.
The Queen’s coffin is draped with the Royal Standard and has the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre lying on top of it.
The public has a chance to view the closed coffin in person until 6.30 a.m. on Monday, when the hall will close in preparations for the state funeral later that morning.
The queue to pay respects reached as much as 10 miles on Friday and had to be closed repeatedly after hitting its maximum capacity. At one point the wait was at least 14 hours, according to the official tracker provided by the government.
Late on Friday evening local time, a spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police said they had arrested a man following a “disturbance” inside Westminster Hall.
“He was arrested for an offence under the Public Order Act and is currently in custody,” the statement added.
The continuous watch inside Westminster Hall is being kept by the King’s Body Guards of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, the Royal Company of Archers, the Yeomen of the Guard assisted by the Yeomen Warders of the Tower of London and by Officers of the Household Division during the lying in state and lying at rest.
Each watch lasts for six hours, with individuals within those watches keeping vigil for 20 minutes at a time.
The royal vigil on Friday evening took place alongside the military watch and was similar to the one the Queen’s children held in St. Giles’ Cathedral in Scotland earlier this week.
The Queen’s eight grandchildren are expected to take the same spot on Saturday evening when it will be their time to stand vigil beside their grandmother’s coffin, a royal source told CNN on Friday.
Prince William, the Prince of Wales, will stand at the head of the coffin, and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, will stand at its foot. The source added that the Prince of Wales will be flanked by Zara Tindall and Peter Philips, who are the children of Princess Anne. The Duke of Sussex will be flanked by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew, alongside Prince Edward’s children, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn.
King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort visited Wales earlier on Friday, meeting members of public and receiving a motion of condolences.
The King said that he was taking up his new duties as the monarch with “immense gratitude for the privilege of having been able to serve as Prince of Wales.”
“It must surely be counted the greatest privilege to belong to a land that can inspire such devotion,” he said. Speaking in Welsh, the King said that his son, Prince William, who has taken over the title of Prince of Wales from his father, has “a deep love for Wales.”
But the new King also encountered some signs of disapproval on Friday. When he arrived at Cardiff Castle in the afternoon, he was greeted with both cheers and boos.
While many people in the crowd were cheering and waving flags, some protestors were booing loudly. King Charles appeared to be shaking his head slightly as his car drove by and into the castle.
After his return to London and before joining the vigil at Westminster Hall, Charles held a reception for faith leaders in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace, the palace said in a statement.
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