Royal Family unites in solemn display as thousands queue overnight to honour Queen

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Queen Elizabeth II: Meghan pays her respects with a deep curtsy

The Royal Family were united in a sombre display of pomp and pageantry today to hand over the Queen to the care of the nation for a period of lying in state ahead of her funeral.

Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets of central London, with many shedding a tear, as King Charles led a poignant procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday afternoon as the sun shone down on the capital. The new King will now take a day to himself on Thursday at his Highgrove residence in Gloucestershire.

Brothers Prince William and Prince Harry put aside their rift as they stepped out with their wives Kate and Meghan Markle.

Following a short service attended by wider members of the Royal Family, the first ordinary members of the public filed into Westminster Hall at 5pm to pay their respects in emotional scenes which saw an outpouring of grief and love for the nation’s longest reigning monarch.

Charles walked behind the coffin, draped with a Royal Standard and adorned with the Imperial State Crown, as the Queen left Buckingham Palace for the final time at 2.22pm on Wednesday.

The new King, in his Field Marshal uniform, was joined by his siblings Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex and Peter Phillips, another of the Queen’s grandsons, followed behind Charles.

The Princess Royal’s husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke of Gloucester, who is the Queen’s cousin, and her nephew the Earl of Snowdown completed the procession.

Queen lie in state

The Royal Family came together in a sombre display of pomp and pageantry on Wednesday (Image: GETTY)

Queen lie in state

Thousands of ordinary people will pay their respects to the late Queen at Westminster Hall (Image: GETTY)

Queen lie in state

Well-wishers lined the streets of central London (Image: GETTY)

Queen lie in state

King Charles led the procession of royals behind the late Queen’s coffin (Image: GETTY)

The Queen Consort and the Princess of Wales – wearing a brooch which belonged to the late Queen – travelled behind by car, while the Duchess of Sussex and the Countess of Wessex were in a separate vehicle.

William processed directly behind his father in keeping with his place as the new heir to the throne. As non-working royals, Harry and Andrew did not wear their military uniforms.

The late Queen’s coffin was pulled on a gun carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. The George Gun Carriage had previously borne the coffins of her mother and father.

The crowds were treated to the spectacle of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment processing past along with soldiers from the Life Guards and Blues and Royals on foot.

Applause rang out on Horse Guards Parade in a moving moment as the Queen’s coffin entered. Big Ben tolled every minute adding to the atmosphere.

Queen coffin

The nation’s longest-reigning monarch leaves Buckingham Palace (Image: GETTY)

William Harry

Brothers William and Harry side by side in the procession (Image: GETTY)

Camilla Kate

Camilla and Kate shared a car (Image: GETTY)

Meghan Sophie

Meghan and Sophie travelled to Westminster Hall together (Image: GETTY)

The bearer party which carried the coffin into Westminster Hall, and provided an escort, were soldiers flown back from Iraq to take part in the ceremony, because of their unique association with the late monarch.

The Guardsmen were from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards whose Company Commander was the Queen, and although a senior officer took day-to-day control, the former sovereign’s connection with her men was strong.

The eight Guardsmen lifted the coffin onto the catafalque, while Major Johnny Hathaway-White, Captain of the Queen’s Company, helped to lay out the Queen’s Company Colours at its base.

Before the lying in state began a brief service was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby when the coffin was brought into the ancient hall just after 3pm.

Wider members of the Royal Family attended including Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and their husbands, Zara and Mike Tindall, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.

Queen lie in state

During the service, the senior royals stood in formation facing the coffin (Image: GETTY)

Prince Harry

Harry looks emotional at one point during the service (Image: GETTY)

William Kate Harry Meghan

The Sussexes stand behind the Waleses (Image: GETTY)

William Kate Harry Meghan

William, Kate, Harry and Meghan leave Westminster Hall after the service (Image: GETTY)

King Charles

Charles ended his day by returning to his Highgrove home in Gloucestershire (Image: GETTY)

Prime Minister Liz Truss, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and dozens of MPs and peers were also present, while seven of the late Queen’s ladies-in-waiting – all dressed in black – took up their position close to the entrance.

During the service, the senior royals stood in formation facing the coffin. Charles and Camilla were together, with Anne and her husband behind them, then Andrew, and in the next row the Wessexes.

Behind them were William and Kate in front of Harry and Meghan, who are currently staying at Frogmore Cottage for their stay in Britain. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “God, the maker and redeemer of all mankind: grant us, with thy servant Queen Elizabeth, and all the faithful departed, the sure benefits of thy Son’s saving passion and glorious resurrection; that in the last day, when all things are gathered up in Christ, we may with them enjoy the fullness of thy promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

When the service ended, female royals curtsied at the coffin, while the men bowed their heads.

Sophie Edward

The Earl and Countess of Wessex (Image: GETTY)

Beatrice Eugenie

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and their husbands (Image: GETTY)

Cries of “God save the King” could be heard as the King and the Queen Consort left Westminster Hall. Royal couples exited side by side, with Harry and Meghan holding hands.

Shortly afterwards, the period of lying in state began as the first mourners made their way in as the coffin, guarded by four beefeaters and six soldiers of the Household Cavalry

Some people had been queueing since Tuesday evening and hundreds of thousands from across the UK are expected to file past the late Queen’s coffin before the funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

Many mourners bowed and curtsied, while others wept and comforted each other as they said goodbye to the monarch. Most were dressed in black but one man wore a Union flag jacket.

The queue to attend the lying in state was over two miles long at 9pm on Wednesday and it has the capacity to stretch back 10 miles.

Queen lie in state

Mourners dressed in black say goodbye to the late Queen (Image: GETTY)

Queen coffin

Members of the public file past the coffin in Westminster Hall (Image: GETTY)

Queen lie in state

People are queueing for miles in the capital for the lying in state (Image: PA)

Queen lie in state queue

The queue continued as the sun set on Wednesday (Image: GETTY)

Roger Bennett, 70, from Crewe, queued with his brother for around seven hours from noon.

He said: “I have a great affection for Queen Elizabeth who has been on the throne for as long as I have been alive.”

Mr Bennett added that he was “very emotional and was ready to cry”, but being “extremely” British he did not.

Penny Purnell, from Little Hampton, and her friend Jill Scudamore, both aged over 65, began queueing at about 11am and waited for six hours.

Ms Purnell said that on seeing the coffin she realised the Queen “really has gone”.

Ms Scudamore added: “If anyone is willing to take the time to join the queue it is well worth the wait.”

An estimated 400,000 people expected to make the journey to see the Queen lie in state.

The bright weather on Wednesday was in contrast to the rain when the late monarch, who died peacefully aged 96 at Balmoral last Thursday, arrived at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night after leaving Scotland for the final time.

Charles ended his day by returning to his Highgrove home in Gloucestershire for a private day on Thursday. The new King, who is grieving the loss of his mother, has had a packed schedule since becoming monarch including a UK tour.

It is understood he will be working in preparation for his new role and will already be receiving his red boxes of state papers.

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