This occurred for the first time in 1936 for King George V and again in 2002 for the Queen Mother.
Now in 2022, the royal family have participated in three Vigils for Queen Elizabeth II. The first took place in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, then the Queen’s children again appeared in Westminster Hall and finally the Queen’s grandchildren stood guard in Westminster Hall on Saturday.
King 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 on Friday where the coffin of the late monarch has been lying since Wednesday.
Most of the other members of the British royal family, including some of the queen’s great-grandchildren, watched from a gallery.
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.
Change for the future
The first time members of the royal family participated in the Vigil of the Princes in 1936, only male members were included.
However, Princess Anne broke this tradition in 2022 when she stood guard for her mother in Edinburgh.
The Queen’s granddaughters also joined in at Westminster Hall and stood in silence for 15 minutes.
There were other changes to the royal code of conduct for Queen Elizabeth’s Vigil.
Only working royals of the royal family are allowed to wear their military uniforms. This meant Princes Andrew and Harry were not allowed to don their military uniforms. Both are war veterans – Andrew having served as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot during the Falklands War and Harry serving two tours of duty with the British Army in Afghanistan.
In the week prior to the Queen’s children’s Vigil, Prince Andrew was given permission to wear his military regalia at the Vigil. Prince Harry was not.
The younger prince even made an announcement in regards to the decision saying he “will wear a morning suit throughout events honouring his grandmother.
Continuing that the duke’s “decade of service is not determined by the uniform he wears”.
However to the surprise of many, at the King’s request both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex were in the Blues and Royals military uniform when they stood guard.
William and Harry were joined by their six cousins, including Princess Beatrice and Eugenie, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, the children of Princess Anne, and Louise and James, the children of Prince Edward.
Hundreds of thousands of people have lined up for long hours in a queue stretching along the River Thames, waiting to file past the coffin and honour the queen – a testimony to the affection in which she was held.
“She wouldn’t believe all this, she really wouldn’t,” William was heard telling one man of the late queen, who came to the throne in 1952.”It’s amazing.”
One woman told Charles it had been “worth the wait” and others wished him well and cheered as he moved down the line.