Simple act of true love and devotion from the Queen’s four grieving children

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Members of the public continued to file past during the extraordinarily poignant ritual that saw the Queen’s children standing steadfast with clasped hands.

The King, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were lost in contemplation and seemingly unaware of the wave of mourners as they stood with heads slightly bowed.

The vigil lasted 10 minutes but it was almost as if time had stood still as the four children remembered their beloved mother. King Charles kept his hands joined and looked towards the floor. A number of people bowed as they passed the new sovereign, with others walking solemnly by with heads down.

The King wore Prince Charles Edward Stuart tartan and white heather from Balmoral in his lapel.

The Duke of York kept his eyes shut for a period of time, while ­the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex remained resolute and fixed their eyes to the floor.

Dressed in full military uniform, Anne became the first female royal to take part in the sombre vigil, while the Queen Consort and the Countess of Wessex, seated nearby, looked on. There were cheers ­for the senior royals as they filed out of the cathedral after their period of reflection.

It took place while thousands of people continued to queue outside the Edinburgh cathedral to pay their respects to the late monarch.

The Vigil of the Princes has only been performed twice and was last carried out during the Queen Mother’s funeral in 2002.

The ritual refers to two occasions when, usually male members of the Royal Family, “stand guard” during the lying in state ahead of a state funeral or ceremonial service.

The steady, continuous stream of well-wishers were led through a security tent to be searched before heading into the gothic place of worship to pay their respects. Karen Whitehouse, 64, left her home in Loweswater, Cumbria, at 2am to start queuing in the Scottish capital.

She said: “It was surreal. It was very quiet, everyone was very still. It was like they were all statues. I can’t believe I’ve done it and I was that close. I paid my respects. It was just beautiful.” Amy Calvert, 31, from Stoke-on-Trent, was on holiday in Edinburgh and one of the first in line to see the late Queen lying at rest.

She said: “It will be a time for reflection. The example she’s set with her faith is just incredible.” After queuing for 11 hours, mum of two Sarra Hoy said: “Seeing the coffin and the vigil of the archers and police was so powerful and overwhelming. The queues go on for miles. That in itself is a tribute to the Queen’s life and service.”

After lying in rest overnight, members of the public will be able to process past the Queen’s casket at St Giles’ Cathedral until about 3pm today.

Her Majesty’s coffin will be flown to RAF Northolt, accompanied by Princess Anne and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.

The Prince and Princess of Wales will be at Buckingham Palace when the casket arrives later today.

The receiving of the coffin will be led by the King and Queen Consort as it arrives at the late Queen’s main residence in London. The casket will rest in the Bow Room at the Palace overnight, before a procession to the lying in state at Westminster Hall tomorrow.

A former butler of the late ­monarch yesterday joined a line by Lambeth Bridge already waiting to see the late monarch lying in state. Tony Jones used to look after the Queen’s guests at Royal Ascot.

Tony, who lives in Westminster, said: “I used to do the royal boxes for many years. I thought I’d come to pay my respects to the Queen for the duty that she’s given to the country for all these years.

“It will be a very emotional moment. And as the crowds gather it’s going to feel more emotional. It will build and build.”

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