King Charles III and his three siblings stood guard around the coffin of their mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Friday in a solemn vigil honoring Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
The new king, Princess Anne, and Princes Andrew and Edward silently mounted the guard around her flag-clad coffin as members of the public, who had queued for hours, continued to stream past.
The “Vigil of the Princes”, with the royal family all in ceremonial naval uniform, was an emotionally charged moment at London’s medieval Westminster Hall, where Queen Elizabeth’s coffin lies in state for Monday’s funeral.
Her children stood with their heads bowed for 12 minutes as other members of the royal family, including Queen Consort Camilla, watched and paid their last respects to the audience.
King Charles and his siblings held a similar vigil at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh before the coffin was flown to London.
The Vigil of the Princes first took place at Westminster Hall in 1936 for King George V. His four sons, including Queen Elizabeth’s father, stood guard.
Prince William and his brother Prince Harry will lead the Queen’s grandchildren in a similar wake on Saturday night.
Members of the public had to wait up to 24 hours to pass the coffin.
Speech in Welsh
Crowds cheered King Charles and chanted “God Save the King” in the Welsh capital Cardiff earlier on Friday, as the new monarch shook hands with benefactors after a multi-faith service at Llandaff Cathedral and Cardiff Castle.
It was the last of his visits to the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom following the death of Queen Elizabeth on September 8, at the age of 96.
Charles had a private meeting with Welsh Prime Minister Mark Drakeford, an outspoken Republican.
In a speech to the Welsh Parliament, which was alternately English and Welsh, the king vowed to follow his mother’s “selfless example.”
Before taking the throne on September 8, Charles, 73, had been the Prince of Wales since 1958, a title bestowed upon the heir apparent.
He made his eldest child William the new Prince of Wales on September 9.
Sharon Driscoll was in tears after meeting King Charles at Cardiff Castle.
“It was very emotional, very personal, the eye contact meant a lot considering how long we’ve waited,” said the 48-year-old nurse.
“I shook his hand and said, ‘I’m really sorry that your mother passed away.’ He said, ‘Thank you so much, it means a lot,’” she said.
A handful of people took the opportunity to protest the British system of constitutional monarchy.
Outside Cardiff Castle, a few protesters held up banners reading “Abolish the monarchy”, “Citizens not subjected” and “Democracy now”.
Back at Buckingham Palace in London, King Charles reached out to Britain’s various faith communities and pledged to defend freedom of worship under his rule.
Upon his accession to the throne, Charles became the titular head of the Church of England as its supreme governor, which comes with the title Defender of the Faith.
On his accession, he also swore under oath to maintain and preserve the Protestant faith in Scotland.
He told the assembled faith leaders that he was a “devoted Anglican Christian” — but believed that as a sovereign it was his “duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for the faith itself and its practice.” “.
In 1994 he said he would rather see his future role as a defender of the faith than of the faith, but in 2015 he clarified that the historic title was compatible with being a protector of the freedom to follow other religions.
Beckham is in line
Elizabeth’s death has caused a torrent of emotions, with tens of thousands from all backgrounds and many countries queuing for hours, often all night, to pay their respects at Westminster Hall.
The line was halted for nearly an hour on Friday after a park at the end of the line along the River Thames was full, the government said.
Then officials said just after 1600 GMT that the “expected wait time is more than 24 hours” — a 14-hour increase for those at the end of the line.
They also warned of cold nighttime temperatures and another break if the line was full.
David Beckham, the former captain of English football, lined up from 2am to pay his last respects.
Beckham, 47, dressed in a dark suit and tie, stood with his hands behind his back, bowed his head to the catafalque and then bit his lip before leaving Westminster Hall.
“It’s very emotional and the silence and feeling in the room is very hard to explain,” he told reporters afterwards.
“We are all here to thank Her Majesty for her kindness, for her caring and for her reassurance over the years.
“The legacy she left behind is incredible.”
Also in line was Peter Stratford, 70, a former firefighter who was one of the first on the scene of a massive 1992 fire at Windsor Castle, where the Queen will be buried on Monday.
“My ankles hurt me, but it’s a small sacrifice,” he told AFP after standing in line for eight hours.
“I was in tears, emotional… I wouldn’t have missed it.”
Mourners marked their moment in front of the coffin in a variety of ways, from bows or bows to the sign of the cross or simply taking off their hats, an AFP reporter observed within Friday.
Some wiped their tears. Others brought babies in strollers. Old soldiers stopped and saluted their former commander in chief.
In a statement, the queen’s youngest son, Edward, said her passing had left an “unimaginable void”.
“We have been overwhelmed by the wave of emotion that has washed over us and the sheer number of people who have gone out of their way to express their own love, admiration and respect for such a very special and unique person who was always there for us.” ” he said.
“And now we’re here for her, united in sorrow. Thanks for your support. You have no idea how much it means.’
Rowing with China
On Monday, the Queen will be honored at Westminster Abbey with Britain’s first state funeral in nearly six decades, with more than 2,000 expected guests.
After the televised service, the coffin will be transferred by royal hearse to Windsor Castle, west of London, for a private funeral in which the Queen will be buried next to her late husband Prince Philip, her parents and her sister.
Police mount Britain’s largest-ever security operation for the funeral, as dignitaries from around the world fly in.
An official delegation from China has been banned from attending the recumbent state following an intervention by House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, parliamentary sources said.
It comes after China has sanctioned several British lawmakers for criticizing its human rights record.
“The British side must uphold both diplomatic courtesy and gracious hospitality,” Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Beijing.