The Daily Telegraph
Guard of honour
The King and his siblings stand vigil over coffin in Edinburgh as public file past to pay their respects
‘The Queen, like so many generations of our family before her, found in the hills of this land and in the hearts of its people, a haven and a home’
THERE were no tears and no wails. Just the sound of footsteps, then arms clasped and heads bowed.
For 10 minutes, as members of the public filed past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, her four children stood vigil in the most solemn duty imaginable.
The King, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex had walked together up the aisle of St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh in well-practised step, honed over a lifetime of shared public duties.
As they reached the coffin, they divided – each taking a side to honour their mother and show that she was not alone.
Choosing not to hold swords, they stood with hands clasped and eyes lowered, their backs to the coffin.
Members of the public who had queued for more than 12 hours to pay their respects filed past, occasionally doing a double take as they noticed the members of the Royal family in their midst, with the Queen Consort and the Countess of Wessex seated at the side and watching on.
It came at the end of an emotional day for the Royal family, in which the siblings walked behind their mother’s coffin up the Royal Mile.
Reflecting the sense of duty so central to royal life, they came together again at 7.40pm in silent, still tribute in a moving ceremony few in the public will have seen before in person.
The late Queen’s coffin was draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland with a wreath of Balmoral flowers and Crown of Scotland on top, guarded by the Royal Company of Archers.
The Princess Royal became the first woman to take part in such a vigil, honouring the mother to whom she was so close.
The late Queen will lie at rest in St Giles’ Cathedral until 5pm today, with thousands of members of the public hoping to file past to pay their respects before she departs Scotland for the last time.
Once in London, Queen Elizabeth’s body will lie in state at Westminster Hall for four days, beginning at 5pm tomorrow. Yesterday, members of the public had already begun forming a queue.
However, mourners in London have been warned that they may have to wait up to 30 hours, with the continuously moving queue expected to stretch more than three miles from Tower Bridge to Westminster. As well-wishers are set to flock to the capital ahead of the funeral on Monday, a special train timetable will see services run through the night.
Officials were last night finalising plans for extra services to be laid on to manage demand, with timetables to be updated by operators over the coming days.
The Government advised London commuters to work from home to prevent the city’s infrastructure being overwhelmed. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “London will be busy. Some people may wish to change their working patterns accordingly.”
At 5pm today, the late Queen’s coffin will begin the journey from Edinburgh to Buckingham Palace via RAF Northolt.
The Princess Royal will accompany her mother on the RAF flight, and then in a car to the palace, with mourners expected to line the route.
At the palace, the King and Queen will receive the coffin joined by other members of the Royal family.
The Prince and Princess of Wales will witness the coffin arriving, but will not appear in public. It is understood other grandchildren and their spouses, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, also hope to be there.
Later this week, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex and their cousins are expected to join walking processions behind the late Queen’s coffin as it moves from the palace to Westminster Hall for the lying in state.
During yesterday’s ceremonies, the Duke of York, who is no longer a part of the working Royal family, did not wear his military uniform. He instead wore a morning suit while his siblings wore their ceremonial dress.
He will be permitted to wear the uniform of a vice-admiral of the Navy, the only military rank that he still holds, on one occasion – a vigil around the late Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall – as a “final mark of respect” for his mother.
The Duke of Sussex will not be permitted to wear military uniform at the funeral or any events leading up to it.
Yesterday, the Duke paid tribute to the “everlasting grace” and “infectious smile” of his grandmother, saying even in the depths of grief he can “smile knowing that you and Grandpa are reunited now, and both together in peace”.
The King offered his own warm words in the Houses of Parliament, after hearing expressions of condolence from MPS and peers.
He promised “faithfully to follow” the example of his mother, adding: “As Shakespeare says of the earlier Queen Elizabeth, she was ‘a pattern to all princes living’.”
In the afternoon, he spoke in the Scottish Parliament to tell members he would “take up my new duties with thankfulness for all that Scotland has given me, with resolve to seek always the welfare of our country and its people”.
He also described how the late Queen considered Scotland to be “a haven and a home”. The King said: “Through all the years of her reign, the Queen, like so many generations of our family before her, found in the hills of this land and in the hearts of its people, a haven and a home.
“My mother felt, as I do, the greatest admiration of the Scottish people for their magnificent achievements and their indomitable spirit, and it was the greatest comfort for her to know in turn the true affection in which she was held.
“The knowledge of that deep and abiding bond must be to us the solace as we mourn the end of a life of incomparable service.”
Before addressing Holyrood, the King was joined by his three siblings and the Queen, the Countess of Wessex and Vice-admiral Sir Timothy Laurence for a service of thanksgiving at St Giles’.
On arriving in Edinburgh, His Majesty took part in the historic Ceremony of the Keys. He inspected the Guard of Honour at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, was welcomed to the Scottish capital by Lord Provost Robert Aldridge, and was handed the keys to the city.
Today, the King and Queen will travel to Northern Ireland, visiting Hillsborough Castle in Co Down, to hold audiences and receive a message of condolence from the speaker of the Stormont Assembly.
They will attend a service of reflection at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast and meet the public in a walkabout.
‘Her late Majesty set an example of selfless duty which with God’s help and your counsels I am resolved faithfully to follow’
THE KING spoke of how he feels “the weight of history” on him as he addressed MPS and peers in a speech to the joint Houses of Parliament.
The King, with the Queen Consort, addressed 1,200 MPS and peers, with parliamentary officials and journalists, in Westminster Hall in Parliament. It was the first time that the Queen Consort had been seen sitting on a throne since the death of Queen Elizabeth II last week.
Delivering his speech from a gilded lectern, the King said: “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 King pledged to the MPS and peers that that he would “maintain the precious principles of constitutional government”.
Paying tribute to the late Queen’s service to her country, he said: “We gather today in remembrance of the remarkable span of the Queen’s dedicated service to her nations and peoples.
“While very young, her late Majesty pledged herself to serve her country and her people and to maintain the precious principles of constitutional government which lie at the heart of our nation.
“This vow she kept with unsurpassed devotion. She set an example of selfless duty which with God’s help and your counsels I am resolved faithfully to follow,” the King said.
A fanfare of trumpets had sounded as the King and Queen Consort, both dressed in black, arrived in Westminster Hall.
The audience – including Liz Truss, the Prime Minister and Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader – immediately stood to attention and only sat once the King had done so.
Making reference to ancient Westminster Hall – built in 1097 under William II (Rufus), the son of William the Conqueror – the King described Parliament as “the living and breathing instrument of our democracy”. He said: “That your traditions are ancient we see in the construction of this great hall and the reminders of medieval predecessors of the office to which I have been called and the tangible connections to my darling late mother we see all around us.”
The King said his mother was “a pattern to all princes living”, quoting lines from Shakespeare’s Henry VIII about the then princess Elizabeth, who was to become Queen Elizabeth I.
The event was freighted with historical significance from the Yeomen of the Guard – Beefeaters – who had processed through the congregation to the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms in
‘Those revolutions led to our [freedoms], and set out the foundation for a stable monarchy, which protects liberty’
The King has been wearing a tie-pin he inherited from his grandfather, George VI, and cuff links he inherited from his great-grandfather, George V.
The pin bears his grandfather’s cypher, GVIR, the official monogram of George VI Rex.
Palace. He wore it again yesterday as he addressed MPS and peers at Westminster Hall, where he pledged to follow Queen Elizabeth II’S example of “selfless duty”.
King George V’s cufflinks bear his royal cypher, GVR. The silver accessories were seen as the King waved to crowds at Buckingham Palace on Sunday.
The Queen’s EIIR stamp will be replaced, in time, by the King’s CIIIR cypher on military uniforms, coins, bank notes, stamps and government boxes, among other things. plumed helmets, clutching what look like small axes, behind them.
Ahead of the Queen’s body being taken to Westminster Hall from Edinburgh tomorrow, when she will lie in state until her the morning of her funeral on Monday, the King spoke of how “the Great Bell of Big Ben, one of the most powerful symbols of our nation... will mark the passage of the late Queen’s progress from Buckingham Palace to Parliament on Wednesday”.
The event was titled “Presentation of Addresses by Both Houses of Parliament to His Majesty King Charles III”, and earlier Lord Mcfall of Alcluith and then Sir Lindsay Hoyle, both former Labour MPS, who are now speakers of the Lords and Commons respectively, had made speeches.
Sir Lindsay told the King: “In 1988, we celebrated the 300th anniversary of the revolutions of 1688 to 1689.
“It is perhaps very British to celebrate revolutions by presenting an address to Her Majesty.
“But those revolutions led to our constitutional freedoms, and set out the foundation for a stable monarchy, which protects liberty.”
Sir Lindsay added: “Deep as our grief is, we know yours is deeper.”
Lord Mcfall praised the late Queen’s reign of deep and unparalleled devotion and remembered her commitment, kindness, humour and courage, as well as the deep faith that was the anchor in her life.
After 25 minutes the ceremony was over. Peers, MPS and other guests rose to their feet to sing God Save the King, many for the first time, to the monarch.
The King and Queen then made their way through the congregation, many of whom bowed or curtsied as they passed, out of the great door of the hall and into a waiting car.
The King left Westminster for RAF Northolt in west London, to take the royal flight to Edinburgh, as the focus of national mourning switched from London to the Scottish capital.