All eight of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren stood in silent vigil beside her coffin Saturday, capping another huge day in which thousands came to London to pay their respects to the monarch.
Many people had huddled in line amid waits that stretched up to 16 hours, enduring the British capital’s coldest night in months.
Later, all of the Queen’s grandchildren stood by her coffin. Prince William and Prince Harry, King Charles III’s sons, were joined by Princess Anne’s children, Zara Tindall and Peter Philips; Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie; and the two children of Prince Edward — Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
William, now the heir to the throne, stood, his head bowed, at the head of the coffin and Harry at the foot. Both princes, who are military veterans, were in uniform.
A tide of people wanting to say goodbye streamed into Parliament’s Westminster Hall, where the Queen’s coffin is lying in state, draped in her Royal Standard and capped with a diamond-studded crown. The numbers have grown steadily since the public was first admitted on Wednesday, with a queue that snakes around Southwark Park and stretches out at least eight kilometres
Honouring their patience, King Charles III and Prince William made an unannounced visit Saturday to greet people waiting to file past Elizabeth’s coffin, shaking hands and thanking mourners in the queue near Lambeth Bridge.
Harry, who served in Afghanistan as a British army officer, wore civilian clothes during the procession of the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace because he is no longer a working member of the royal family. He and his wife Meghan quit royal duties and moved to the United States in 2020. The King, however, requested that both William and Harry wear their military uniforms at the Westminster Hall vigil.
You can watch live coverage of the Queen’s funeral starting at 5 a.m. ET on Monday on CBC TV, CBC News Network, CBC Gem, CBCNews.ca and the CBC News app. At noon ET, the broadcast will turn to Ottawa for a national commemorative ceremony. CBC News Network will rebroadcast the funeral at 7 p.m. ET. CBC Radio One’s live funeral coverage will start at 5:30 a.m. ET, which will also be available on the CBC Listen app.
Trudeau pays tribute to late monarch
On Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped to view the casket ahead of a meeting with the King at Buckingham Palace. The King also met with the prime ministers of the 14 other countries where he is head of state.
Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau also signed a book of condolence at Lancaster House and the prime minister delivered a message reflecting on the Queen’s legacy in Canada.
“I first met Her Majesty when I was seven years old and her presence throughout my life had been constant, inspiring and graceful,” he said.
“As prime minister, I benefited from her counsel, her thoughtfulness, her curiosity, her sense of humour and the engagement that showed a deep, deep and abiding interest and love for Canadians.”
The Royal Family confirmed King Charles met with Trudeau as well as Anthony Albanese of Australia, Philip Davis of the Bahamas, Andrew Holness of Jamaica and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.
Many braved a chilly night waiting in line while others entered Southwark Park to join the queue despite the U.K. culture ministry asking members of the public to stay home because the wait time had grown to 24 hours. That number was later revised downward.
Overnight, volunteers distributed blankets and cups of tea to people in line as the temperature fell to 6 C. Despite the weather, mourners described the warmth of a shared experience.
“It was cold overnight, but we had wonderful companions, met new friends. The camaraderie was wonderful,” Chris Harman of London said. “It was worth it. I would do it again and again and again. I would walk to the end of the earth for my Queen.”
Funeral set for Monday
The tide of people wanting to say goodbye to the Queen has grown steadily since the public was first admitted to the hall on Wednesday. On Friday, authorities temporary halted letting more visitors join the end of the line.
Some mourners were already staking out prime viewing locations in the heart of London for the late monarch’s funeral on Monday.
The state funeral, to be attended by nearly 100 presidents and heads of government including those from Canada, the United States, France, Australia, Japan and Jamaica, is likely to be one of the biggest ceremonial events ever held in Britain.
Shirin Thorpe, 62, from Sevenoaks south of the English capital, arrived Thursday and was camped out Saturday near Westminster subway station. It’s near the historic hall where the queen is lying in state and Westminster Abbey, where her funeral will be held.
“There’s going to be millions of people here and we didn’t want to miss the chance,” she said.
The death of the Queen on Sept. 8 at her summer estate in the Scottish Highlands has sparked an outpouring of emotion across the country and 10 days of highly choreographed events.
For retiree Hasmukh Vara, 62, his decision to stand for 13 hours to observe the lying-in-state reflected his desire to say thank you to the late monarch — and Britain — after he moved to the country from Kenya in the 1970s.
Emerging from the vast, brightly lit hall into the cool darkness of Friday night by the River Thames, he described himself as feeling “very, very high.”
“We came as refugees to this country,” he told Reuters. “For my entire lifetime, I am indebted to her because she gave us a home. It’s something we can never, ever forget. It’s a big deal to me and my family.”