- Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren
- Line up to see the Queen’s sarcophagus for 11 hours
- World leaders start arriving in London for the funeral
LONDON (Reuters) – Princes William and Harry stood in a vigil at the ends of the coffin of their grandmother Queen Elizabeth on Saturday, heads bowed as a line of mourners streamed in front of the late king’s body.
The two sons of King Charles, both in military uniform, stood in silence for a 15-minute vigil in the vast Westminster Hall where the coffin has been lying since Wednesday, wearing the Royal Standard and the jeweled Imperial State crown on top.
William and Harry were joined by their six cousins, including Princess Beatrice and Eugenie, who earlier paid tribute to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. The Queen died on September 8 at her summer home in the Scottish Highlands at the age of 96.
Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com
“You have been our mothers, our guide, and our loving hand on our backs guiding us through this world,” said the sisters, Prince Andrew’s daughters. “You taught us so much and we will cherish those lessons and memories forever. For now, my dear grandmother, all we want to say is thank you.”
Hundreds of thousands of people queued for hours in a line stretching along the Thames, waiting for the coffin to be lifted and the Queen’s homage – a testament to the affection in which she was held.
Other cousins at the vigil on Saturday were Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, sons of Princess Anne, and Louise and James, sons of Prince Edward.
Earlier on Saturday, Charles and his heir William shook hands and greeted well-wishers in the queue, asking people how long they had been there and whether they were warm enough.
Amid chants of “hip, hip, hurray” and shouts of “god save the king,” Charles and William spoke to mourners near Lambeth Bridge, as they approached the end of the monumental line to see the state lying in history at Westminster Hall.
On Friday night, Charles joined his three brothers – Princess Anne, Princes Andrew and Edward – for a silent vigil in the coffin.
William was heard telling one of the late Queen’s men, who ascended the throne in 1952. “She wouldn’t believe all this, but she wouldn’t really believe it.”
One woman told Charles it was “worth the wait” and others wished him well and cheered as he progressed in line.
Ahead of the state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, world leaders are also beginning to arrive in the British capital.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese were among the dignitaries who paid their respects on Saturday, while New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was seen writhing on a coffin on Friday.
US President Joe Biden is expected to head to the Lying Country on Sunday.
On Saturday, Charles met with leaders of the 14 countries he heads such as Canada, Australia and Jamaica after meeting the governor-general – the people who represent the king in the outer worlds – at Buckingham Palace.
London police described the funeral as the largest security operation they had ever carried out, with prime ministers, presidents and members of the royal family gathering and huge crowds in the streets. The king visited the police headquarters on Saturday to thank the emergency services staff involved in the planning.
Emphasizing the risks, police said a man was arrested and detained after a witness told Sky News he had “run into the Queen’s coffin”. Video footage showed a man being suspended by police officers on the ground and led away.
By 5 p.m. (1600 GMT), the British Department of Culture said the waiting time to reach the recumbent country was up to 11 hours.
Within the silent hall, some mourners cried, and many wept as the current soldiers and veterans saluted their former commander in chief. Others in the class fell to their knees.
New friendships, acts of kindness, and the struggle to stand in line for hours, sometimes in the cold overnight, only define what has come to be known as the “waiting list.”
Film director Matthew West described how a military man was offered the opportunity to get to the front but declined. “That was the highlight. It was light when we stood still for two hours and I lost the will to live.”
There has been an outpouring of sentiment across the country and 10 days of determined events since the Queen’s death at Balmoral in Scotland. Her coffin was initially interred in Edinburgh before being taken south to London.
The Queen’s children described being overwhelmed by the reaction to their mother’s death.
State funeral to be attended by By nearly 100 presidents and prime ministers, it is likely to be one of the largest festive events ever held in Britain.
Soldiers took part in early morning rehearsals in Windsor, where the Queen’s coffin will be taken after the funeral at Westminster Abbey. Bands were seen playing music, and the Grenadier Guards, in a long, bear-skin cap on their ceremonial duties, were seen marching down High Street in preparation.
Liz Killshall of Leatherhead, southern England, said she brought her two children to Windsor so they would never forget the Queen. “It’s really important for them to grow up and remember this, and it’s important for us as a family to come and show some respect for a wonderful woman,” she said.
Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com
Additional reporting by Sachin Ravikumar and Elizabeth Piper Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Alison Williams and Frances Kerry
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
“Subtly charming student. Pop culture junkie. Creator. Amateur music specialist. Beer fanatic.”