King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward stood a symbolic watch at their mother’s coffin at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth’s four children carried out a solemn tradition.
On Monday evening, King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward came together to conduct the Vigil of the Princes as their mother’s coffin laid in state at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. The siblings stepped out beside their mother’s casket, draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland and topped with a floral wreath and the Crown of Scotland.
For about 10 minutes, the royals joined the Royal Company of Archers, who will guard the Queen’s casket around the clock during its time in St. Giles, for a symbolic stand of guard as members of the public paid their respects. King Charles, sporting a Scottish kilt, took a spot of significance at the head of the coffin.
Charles’ wife Queen Camilla and Edward’s wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex sat nearby during the vigil.
The rare ritual has been performed only twice before in British history, first for the funerary processions for the Queen’s grandfather, King George V, in 1936, and again during the Queen Mother’s funeral events in 2002, according to The Independent.
Today’s Vigil of the Princes marks the second time that Charles, 73, Andrew, 62, and Edward, 58, have ceremoniously protected a casket as it laid in state. The brothers and their cousin David Armstrong Jones, Princess Margaret’s son, guarded the Queen Mother’s coffin for the same rite the day before her funeral 20 years ago.
Princess Anne’s participation in the Vigil of the Princes was significant, as she became the first female royal to join the symbolic watch.
The Queen’s only daughter, 73, has had a visible role in her mother’s funeral events so far, from following the coffin for the six-hour trip from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh Sunday to walking with her brothers behind the casket as it moved from the palace to St. Giles’ on Monday.
The late monarch’s coffin will lie at the medieval cathedral overnight to allow staff members from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to pay their respects.
On Tuesday, the coffin will be flown to London, with Princess Anne again accompanying her mother’s body. Once the casket arrives at Buckingham Palace, a rehearsal will be held for its procession to the Palace of Westminster.
A state funeral for Queen Elizabeth is set to be held at Westminster Abbey on Monday, September 19.