King Charles and siblings guard Queen Elizabeth’s coffin in solemn vigil


King Charles III and his siblings stood vigil by the coffin of their late mother, Queen Elizabeth, on Friday (Saturday 0430 AEST) as tens of thousands of mourners queuing to pay their final respects during her lying in state were told they faced a wait of up to 24 hours. Charles, Princess Anne, Princes Andrew and Edward, attired in military uniforms, stood in silence with their heads bowed for the 15-minute vigil at the historic Westminster Hall where the coffin of the late monarch has been lying since Wednesday. King Charles III, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex hold a vigil beside the coffin of their mother, Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, 16 September 2022. Source: AAP / PAMost of the other members of the British royal family, including some of the queen’s great-grandchildren, watched from a gallery. Tens of thousands of people of all ages and from all walks of life have already filed past the coffin in a constant, solemn stream to pay tribute to the queen, who died in Scotland on 8 September at the age of 96 after a 70-year reign.’Overwhelmed’Despite the warning of how long it would take to reach the building, mourners continued to join a well-organised line that stretches along the south bank of the Thames and then over the river to parliament’s Westminster Hall, knowing their wait would last through the night when temperatures were forecast to be cold. “We have been overwhelmed by the tide of emotion that has engulfed us and the sheer number of people who have gone out of their way to express their own love, admiration and respect to such a very special and unique person,” Prince Edward, the queen’s youngest son, said in a statement. Rosie Beddows, 57, from Sussex, had queued with her husband and son, and happened to pass by the coffin when it was being guarded by the royal family. “It was absolutely amazing, so moving, so beautiful. It was an incredibly long day, but we saw the king,” she said, sounding elated. “I can’t believe it. I think he’s going to be a brilliant king.” Despite the warning of lengthy queues – repeated across local rail stations – people had flooded into Southwark Park to join the line, many in high spirits. In contrast, those who emerged from the Lying-In-State were quiet, reflective, and a little stiff. David Beckham queued up like everyone elseElizabeth’s death has triggered an outpouring of emotion, with tens of thousands from all backgrounds and many nations queueing for hours, often through the night, to pay their respects in Westminster Hall. The queue was paused for nearly an hour on Friday after a park at the end of the line along the River Thames reached capacity, the government said. Then officials said just after 1600 GMT that the “expected queuing time is over 24 hours” — up from 14 hours for those at the end of the queue. They also warned of cold overnight temperatures and another pause if the line reached capacity. Former English football player David Beckham visits Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin brought to Westminster Hall, in London on 16 September 2022. Source: AAP / Getty ImagesDavid Beckham, the former England football captain, queued from 2:00 am to pay his last respects. Beckham, 47, wearing a dark suit and tie, stood with his hands behind his back, bowed his head towards the catafalque, and then bit his lip before leaving Westminster Hall. “It’s very emotional, and the silence and the feeling in the room is very hard to explain,” he told reporters afterwards. “We’re all there to say thanks to Her Majesty for being kind, for being caring, for being reassuring throughout the years. “The legacy that she has left is incredible.”New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in London for the funeral, was another of those who visited Westminster Hall on Friday, stopping to curtsy as she filed past the coffin. The oak casket stands on a purple-clad catafalque, draped in the Royal Standard and with the bejewelled Imperial State Crown placed on top. Soldiers in ceremonial uniforms and other officials are keeping vigil around it as people walk past to pay homage after their long wait. Many have been in tears, and others have saluted or bowed their heads. Some 750,000 people in total are expected to file past the coffin ahead of the state funeral on Monday, which presidents, prime ministers, royalty and other world leaders are due to attend. US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Australia, Canada and Jamaica will join the emperor of Japan in the congregation.Ban on Chinese delegates viewing coffinThe Chinese delegation visiting London to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral will not be allowed to view her coffin at the lying-in-state vigil inside parliament, the BBC reports.Some parliamentarians had raised concerns about inviting representatives from China after several British lawmakers were sanctioned by Beijing for criticising alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China denies any such abuses.The BBC said, without citing sources, that it understood the Chinese government delegation had been banned from attending the lying-in-state after the speaker of the lower house of parliament had refused access to Westminster Hall on the parliamentary estate due to the Chinese sanctions.The speaker’s office declined to comment. The House of Commons said it did not comment on security matters.A spokesman for Prime Minister Liz Truss has said it is for Buckingham Palace to set out the guest list after taking advice from the foreign office, which, according to the convention, invites representatives from nations with which Britain has diplomatic relations.Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a briefing in Beijing that she had not yet seen the report.Prince William, Kate meet ADF personnelPrince William, the Prince of Wales, has told Commonwealth troops the Queen will be “looking down” on her funeral service. William and his wife Kate, the Princess of Wales, visited Army Training Centre Pirbright in Surrey on Friday afternoon, where they spoke with military personnel from Australia, Canada and New Zealand participating in the procession on Monday. Speaking to Commonwealth troops, who have been rehearsing this week, the pair also told of how “strange” it has been going from the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to her funeral in a matter of months. The Princess of Wales has met troops from Australia, New Zealand and Canada at Pirbright. Source: AAP / APWilliam, talking with troops from Australia, was heard saying the difference between the celebrations in June and the funeral preparations shows “the highs and lows of it all”. Meanwhile, Kate, who was speaking with Canadian military personnel, said: “Going from that (the Jubilee) to this in a few months is very strange.” She was also heard discussing “lack of sleep” with the troops. William was heard speaking with troops from the New Zealand Defence Force about how the Queen would be keeping an eye on Monday’s proceedings. There were 64 members of the Canadian Armed Forces and 28 members of the Australian Defence Force at the centre. The troops are in the UK because they are involved in the procession during Monday’s service, alongside British soldiers.They are being accommodated at Pirbright until the funeral and are rehearsing their roles in the ceremony, with practice marches occurring across the site.Massive security challengeLondon’s police force said the funeral would be the biggest security operation it has ever undertaken. The force has been preparing for possibilities ranging from terrorism threats to protests and crowd crushes, senior police official Stuart Cundy told reporters.Charles, who acceded to the throne on his mother’s death, earlier visited Wales on Friday, the last stage of a tour of the United Kingdom, to acknowledge his status as the new monarch and head of state and to greet the public. Why Wales is special for the new kingCharles and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, attended a service at Cardiff’s Llandaff Cathedral and then talked with cheering well-wishers outside. Wales has a particular significance for the new king, who for five decades preceding last week’s accession had the title Prince of Wales.There were a few anti-monarchy protesters outside Cardiff Castle, where Charles met Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford. One man held a banner saying “Cancel Royals” and a placard saying “End Prince of Wales Title”. Another read: “Not My King”. Similar small protests have been held outside parliament in London and in Edinburgh over the past days, although Charles has enjoyed a surge in support since he succeeded Elizabeth.Later, the new king returned to London to meet faith leaders at Buckingham Palace where he said he was determined to be “sovereign of all communities”. As monarch and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Charles holds the title “Defender of the Faith”, but he said he saw his role as stretching beyond his own strong Christian beliefs and that he had a duty to protect diversity. “By my most profound convictions, therefore – as well as by my position as sovereign – I hold myself bound to respect those who follow other spiritual paths, as well as those who seek to live their lives in accordance with secular ideals,” he told the faith leaders.”I am determined, as king, to preserve and promote those principles across all communities, and for all beliefs, with all my heart.” Following the vigil of the queen’s children on Friday, her eight grandchildren, including the new Prince of Wales, William, and his brother Prince Harry will stand vigil at the coffin on Saturday evening.In an adjustment to protocol, both Harry and his uncle Prince Andrew have been allowed to wear military uniforms when they take their turns, royal officials said. Both are war veterans – Andrew has served as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot during the Falklands War and Harry served two tours of duty with the British Army in Afghanistan.But so far, only ‘working royals’ have appeared in uniform, while Andrew and Harry have appeared in processions in morning suits after they lost their honorary military titles when they stepped back from public royal duties.