Human Interest

King Charles III, siblings hold vigil around Queen’s coffin

By Guillermo Ximenis

London, Sep 16 (EFE).- King Charles III and his three siblings held a silent vigil here Friday around the closed coffin of their mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the mortuary chapel set up at the Palace of Westminster, home of the British Parliament.

In a solemn act, Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, all dressed in military uniform, stood guard for nearly 15 minutes on all four sides of the coffin as hundreds of citizens continued to march past on both sides.

Because of the importance of the occasion, Prince Andrew was given the green light to wear military finery even though he is no longer a senior working royal. In similar fashion, Prince Harry also will be able to wear a military uniform at the British king’s request in a vigil on Saturday.

Princess Anne, meanwhile, became the first woman to appear in the so-called “Vigil of the Princes,” a tradition that began with the 1936 death of King George V.

In 2002, following the death of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Charles, Andrew and Edward were accompanied at the vigil of their grandmother by a cousin, David Linley.

The 16-kilometer (9.9-mile) “queuing route” along the south bank of the River Thames was packed with people on Friday, forcing the government to announce at least a six-hour pause for new joiners.

“Southwark Park has reached capacity. Entry will be paused for at least six hours. We are sorry for any inconvenience,” the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport wrote on Twitter around midday.

“Please do not attempt to join the queue until it re-opens,” it added.

On Friday afternoon, that department tweeted that the accessible queue again had been paused and would resume at midday on Saturday. It also cautioned that Friday night’s forecast calls for cold weather and that warm clothing is recommended

Inside Westminster Hall, the oldest existing part of the Palace of Westminster, people have walked uninterruptedly past the Queen’s coffin to pay their respects since the Queen began lying in state there on Wednesday evening.

An estimated 400,000 people from different parts of the United Kingdom are expected to file past the coffin through Monday morning, when it will be moved to Westminster Abbey for the state funeral.

Elizabeth will be buried alongside her late husband Prince Philip in the King George VI Chapel at Windsor Castle in a smaller ceremony later on Monday.

Efe observed that some people were dressed in mourning black, while others wore informal clothes and even T-shirts and colorful attire.

But strict silence reigned inside the vast medieval hall, which was built in 1097, and the crowds walking steadily past the coffin, which is resting on a raised platform, were seen to be obeying a ban on filming, taking photographs or using mobile phones.

Some people were overcome by the moment as they walked past the Queen’s remains and broke down in tears.

Before taking part in the Vigil of the Princes, Charles III concluded his first tour as king of the four nations of the United Kingdom with a visit to Wales on Friday.

Drawing on the knowledge he acquired at age 21, when he studied for nine weeks at Aberystwyth University, the British monarch gave a bilingual speech to the Welsh parliament in both English and Welsh.

“Wales had a special place in (Elizabeth II’s) heart,” the 73-year-old monarch said. “I know she took immense pride in your many great achievements even as she also felt with you deeply in time of sorrow. It must surely be counted the greatest privilege to belong to a land that could inspire such devotion.”

“It was a privilege to be Prince of Wales for so long,” King Charles III said of a title bestowed on him in 1958. “Now my son, William, will bear the title. He has a deep love for Wales. Like my beloved mother before me, we all share a love for this special land.” EFE

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