The Daily Telegraph

Devotion to duty

Thousands endure 24-hour queue to honour Queen’s lifetime of service as King and his siblings stand vigil

- By Hannah Furness Royal Editor

‘The Queen… would be interested in the detail of the soldiers, how the drill is carried out, its precision, our dress’

THEY face a 24-hour wait to pay their respects, but still they keep on coming. Undaunted, uncomplain­ing and dressed for duty, Queen Elizabeth II’S people vowed to do her proud in their slow, shuffling procession to see her coffin lying in state.

At one point, in scenes that would delight observers of British eccentrici­ty, there was a queue for the queue to get in the main queue. And by the evening, at 7.45pm, the patience of a lucky few was repaid in spectacula­r fashion, as they filed through Westminste­r Hall to find themselves joining the King and his family.

There, amid hundreds of members of the public who happened to be walking through at the same time, the King, Princess Royal, Duke of York and Earl of Wessex stood in silent tribute to their mother. Members of the public, dressed variously in anything from formal black mourning clothes to T-shirts and anoraks, paused and bowed their heads to let them take position at four sides of the late Queen’s coffin.

As the extended family, including the Tindall and Phillips daughters, watched from a platform, the four siblings clasped their hands and lowered their eyes for their 15 minutes of duty. The King blinked, as if rememberin­g his loss all over again in the midst of a testing 10-day schedule of his own.

For the first time since the death of his mother, Prince Andrew was permitted to wear the military dress uniform of a Vice Admiral of the Navy, the only military rank he still holds. The King wore the uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet; Princess Anne as Colonel of the Blues and Royals in her specially adapted version of Mounted Review Order (Dismounted); and Prince Edward in No 1 Dress (Ceremonial) as Royal Colonel Wessex Yeomanry.

At 10pm last night, a member of the public reportedly charged at the Queen’s coffin as it lay in state. The individual was allegedly taken to the floor by Met Police officers and arrested. The Met told ITV they “detained a man in Westminste­r Hall following a disturbanc­e. He was arrested for an offence under the Public Order Act and is currently in custody”.

Earlier, Buckingham Palace had announced details of the late Queen’s final journey to rest in Windsor, designed to allow as many people as possible the opportunit­y to say goodbye on Monday, the day of her funeral. The Queen’s coffin will take the “long route” over a 25-mile, two-hour journey to allow millions of well-wishers to line the road sides.

Starting at Wellington Arch, the cortège will travel along the A4, A30 and the A308 to Windsor between 1pm and 3pm for the committal service followed by private burial.

The Government is drawing up plans to close the queue for Westminste­r Hall tomorrow morning, to allow it to finish by 6.30am on Monday when funeral preparatio­ns begin in earnest.

Tonight, a lucky few are expected to be filing through Westminste­r Hall as the Queen’s grandchild­ren hold their own vigil; the first of its kind for a monarch lying in state. The Prince of Wales, Duke of Sussex, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn will form their own silent guard for 15 minutes.

Last night, the King held a gathering of faith leaders in which he pledged to protect the multiple faiths of a diverse Britain “no less diligently” than Christiani­ty as head of the Church of England, and promised to “protect the space for faith itself ”.

As the Royal family made a series of public appearance­s yesterday, the Prince of Wales spoke of his belief that his late grandmothe­r would be “looking down” at her funeral service.

Visiting the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Surrey yesterday with the Princess of Wales, he spoke to Commonweal­th troops preparing for the procession and empathised over the “lack of sleep” anyone had been getting.

One member of the New Zealand Defence Force said the Prince had told him “the Queen… would be interested in the detail of the soldiers, how the drill is carried out, its precision, our dress, things like that”.

Meanwhile, the King was said to have expressed concerns about the cost of living crisis to Mark Drakeford.

The Welsh First Minister told Talk TV: “The King... mentioned the impact of the cost of living crisis here in Wales. He is concerned as to how people will manage through what is going to be a difficult winter.”

Mourners coming to London are being offered the chance to sit or sleep in empty carriages at Charing Cross and Victoria stations before catching the first trains home. Heads of state are to be taken to Westminste­r Abbey by bus in a major security operation, with foreign dignitarie­s shuttled from the airport by an operator using Britain’s “first and only” zero-emissions coaches.

The Metropolit­an Police is staging the biggest operation in its history in the lead-up to the funeral, with 34 people arrested so far for a “range of offences”.

Spirits remained high among the committed royalists still facing up to 24 hours waiting in a queue.

David Beckham, the former footballer, was spotted among them, waiting in what was nicknamed the “Elizabeth Line” before a second “queue for the queue” became the QEII.

Suddenly comes the bang of sword on stone, the signal for the guard to change

He tells me that, at this point, all he could think of was not to trip, fall and become a global meme

My husband is, impercepti­bly and infinitesi­mally, swaying. Backwards and forwards he goes. Gently, so, so gently. Blink and you’d miss it; to all intents and purposes he is standing stock still, eyes front, unsmiling, upright. You’d only catch the tiny movement if you were looking very intently.

But then, I am looking very intently – because my husband is standing guard at the foot of the late Queen’s coffin, one of four watchers playing their part in this long vigil, the chance for the nation to pay their respects to their late beloved monarch before she is laid to rest on Monday. The rocking forwards and backwards from the heel to the ball of the foot keeps the blood flowing; stops him passing out. Watch carefully and they’re all at it.

It is just after midnight and, outside, the shuffling queue of hundreds of thousands of people makes its patient way along the Thames, over Lambeth Bridge and into Victoria Tower Gardens and the, finally, to stream endlessly through Westminste­r Hall.

Inside, under the bright lights hanging from the mediaeval beams, it is silent, bar the tapping of feet, the discreet click of an official photograph­er’s lens and once, the wail of a baby.

Suddenly comes the bang of sword on stone, the signal for the guard to change. It is precisely 12.20am and the four on the corners swing their swords in a graceful arc in perfect time, before making their careful way down the steps of the dais on which the late Queen’s catafalque stands.

They are ungainly as they march slowly out – their thigh-high boots, complete with spurs, are made for riding, not walking – yet still they are militarily in time, clanking unsmilingl­y up the stone staircase, swords still aloft, to exit stage right, like so many toddlers climbing awkwardly up to their beds. My husband tells me afterwards that all he could think of, at this point, was not to trip, fall and become a global meme.

For all the pomp and ceremony, the clicking of heels and the raising of swords, the vigil itself is an honouring of the dead in a ceremony that would be recognised at almost any point in history, in even the smallest village in the farthest-flung corner of the earth. A vigil can at once be grand or simple, awe-inspiring or strangely intimate – or all of those things – and Queen Elizabeth II’S is no exception. Ignore the velvet ropes and the electric lights, and all the anoraks, trainers and clutched plastic bags, and this could be a watch from another time; it is timeless.

Soothing, too; the endless river of people filing by the coffin. Most slow, some bow, others curtsey, some blow kisses. Many linger after they have passed by, reluctant to leave this sanctuary that it has taken them so long to reach. Exhaustion is etched on faces; there is the odd dazed-looking child stumbling along between parents. Among this stream of awkward humanity, the officers on guard stand in marked contrast; statues, doing their duty. They have been practising all week: their entrances and exits, their synchronis­ed sword drills run through at home in spare half hours with umbrellas. Standing orders have been dusted off, breastplat­es refitted, helmets adjusted, boots polished. I have seen the pomp and ceremony hundreds of times, yet never carried out so silently; there is no shouting of orders in here.

The sword bangs once more; it is time to leave. On top of the coffin, the Black Prince’s Ruby suddenly flashes red. I pause, bow my head, say a prayer of thanks – for Her Majesty’s life but also, in her death, to have been able to see this, to watch my husband carry out this enormous honour.

 ?? ?? The King, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex hold a vigil beside the coffin of their mother, as it lies in state on the catafalque in Westminste­r Hall
The King, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex hold a vigil beside the coffin of their mother, as it lies in state on the catafalque in Westminste­r Hall
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom