The Daily Telegraph

George and Charlotte join the Royal family in historic Abbey procession

In a last-minute decision, the Palace announces the Prince and Princess will accompany their parents

- By Victoria Ward and Gordon Rayner

‘We’re trying to keep everything constant and settled for them’

‘To all the people of the United Kingdom, our hearts go out to you. You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years’

PRINCE GEORGE and Princess Charlotte face the biggest moment of their young lives today when they walk behind the late Queen’s coffin as it is carried into Westminste­r Abbey for her funeral.

Buckingham Palace announced last night that Her Majesty’s great-grandchild­ren, aged nine and seven, would join the procession down the nave at the start of the service. They will walk behind their parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and in front of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, reflecting their place in the line of succession.

The news came as world leaders gathered in London to join the congregati­on, which will include Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska. The Princess of Wales held an audience with President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wife at Buckingham Palace ahead of a reception hosted by the King.

US President Joe Biden was among those who attended the late Queen’s lying in state in Westminste­r Hall yesterday, saying afterwards that “the world is better” as a result of her life of service.

The Prince and Princess of Wales are understood to have thought “very carefully” ahead of the funeral about whether to involve their two elder children, who called the late Queen “Gan-gan”.

Sources noted that they took them to the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service at the Abbey in March, where they coped well in the spotlight.

Both children will also be in the congregati­on at the committal service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, which starts at 4pm. A decision about whether to include them in the procession at Windsor will be made nearer the time, depending on how they feel following the earlier event.

Palace advisers are said to have asked the Prince and Princess of Wales to consider bringing Prince George because of the powerful message it would send.

Despite his age, he is now second in line to the throne and the future of the monarchy. Aides believed his participat­ion would be reassuring to the public at a time of great upheaval, personifyi­ng the constancy of the monarchy.

They will join an 18-strong Royal family group walking behind the coffin that will be led by the King.

George and Charlotte’s four-year-old brother Prince Louis, whose playful antics during Platinum Jubilee celebratio­ns delighted onlookers, will not be present as he is considered too young.

The children have not been seen in public since the Queen’s death was announced on Sept 8, which was their first full day at their new prep school, Lambrook, in Berkshire. But Prince George and Princess Charlotte are gradually being eased into royal life, with several public appearance­s in recent months, both together and individual­ly.

They played starring roles during the Platinum Jubilee in June, appearing on the palace balcony, accompanyi­ng their parents to Wales, taking part in Troop

‘As I’ve told the King, she’s going to be with him every step of the way. And that’s a reassuring notion’

ing the Colour and attending the pageant and the party at the palace.

In July, Princess Charlotte appeared in a short video with her father ahead of the Women’s World Cup final. The following month, she joined her parents at the Commonweal­th Games, attending gymnastics, swimming, and hockey matches. Prince George was taken to Wimbledon to watch the men’s final, wearing a suit and tie to sit alongside his parents in the royal box.

Prince William told a well-wisher in Sandringha­m last week that the children had been “doing OK” since the Queen died. “We’re trying to keep everything constant and settled for them,” he said, noting that it was the “only talking point” at their new school.

Ms Zelenska’s visit to Britain had been kept secret until the last moment, but yesterday evening she attended the Queen’s lying in state and was then pictured with the Princess of Wales, sitting either side of a fireplace at the Palace in gingham-covered armchairs.

Earlier, the Ukrainian president had signed a book of condolence for the late Queen, which was organised by the UK ambassador in Kyiv, Melinda Simmons, who said she was “deeply honoured” by the gesture.

The Princess met the Zelenskys in 2020, but her high-profile meeting with such a significan­t visitor was evidence of the bigger role she will now play in royal duties and unofficial diplomacy.

Mr Biden, with his wife Jill by his side, earlier placed his hand on his heart as he attended the lying in state in Westminste­r Hall.

As he signed the official book of condolence at Lancaster House, he said: “To all the people of the United Kingdom, our hearts go out to you. You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years. We all were. The world is better for her.”

Mr Biden, who lost his daughter Naomi and his first wife Neilia in a car crash, and whose eldest son Beau died of cancer seven years ago, said: “It’s a loss that leaves a giant hole, and sometimes you think you’ll never overcome it.

“But as I’ve told the King, she’s going to be with him every step of the way. Every minute, every moment. And that’s a reassuring notion.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte entered the Palace of Westminste­r wearing sunglasses as they prepared to attend the lying in state. Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, was among those who signed the book of condolence, together with the presidents of India, Colombia, Barbados, Albania and other countries.

On Saturday the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese were among those who paid their respects to the late Queen in Westminste­r Hall.

Meanwhile Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, will not attend the funeral today following criticism of his inclusion on the list of foreign guests.

The de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia has not visited Britain since the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, which the CIA has said he authorised.

Reuters news agency reported that Prince Turki Al-faisal would now be attending the funeral instead.

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 ?? ?? The Princess of Wales held an audience with Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, at Buckingham Palace yesterday, ahead of a reception hosted by the King
The Princess of Wales held an audience with Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, at Buckingham Palace yesterday, ahead of a reception hosted by the King

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