George and Charlotte will walk behind the Queen’s casket at funeral

Prince George and Princess Charlotte will make a surprise appearance at their great-grandmother’s funeral today, walking behind her coffin into Westminster Abbey.

The Daily Mail understands that the Prince and Princess of Wales thought ‘long and hard’ about whether their two eldest children, aged nine and seven, should join them.

But after George and Charlotte attended their great-grandfather’s memorial in March, William and Kate decided they could cope with the solemnity of the occasion. Louis, the couple’s youngest, is just four and will not be joining.

‘As parents they have, of course, thought long and hard about whether their children should accompany them,’ a source said. ‘Of course little Louis is too young, but they think George and Charlotte are up to it.’

It is understood the children will also be in the congregation for the committal service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor this afternoon. A decision is to be taken about whether they feel up to taking part in the procession there, too.

George and Charlotte will travel by car to the Abbey with Kate and Camilla, before joining the foot procession as it enters.

Before today’s state funeral service at 11am, a bell will toll 96 times, reflecting the years of Queen Elizabeth’s life. The service will, Buckingham Palace said last night, pay tribute to the Queen’s remarkable reign and lifetime of service as head of state, nation and Commonwealth.

It will be conducted by The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, with hymns including The Lord’s My Shepherd and Love Divine. Lessons feature 1 Corinthians 15 20-26, 53-end and John 14 1-9a, with all aspects personally chosen by the Queen.

A specially commissioned choral piece, Like As The Hart, composed by the Master of The King’s Music, Judith Weir, will be sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey. The choir will also sing a short anthem, O Taste And See, which was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a reading, while Prime Minister Liz Truss will read the second lesson, with prayers from leading clerics including the Bishop of London and Archbishop of York.

Tears are sure to flow at The Last Post and Reveille, as well as the first major public rendition of the National Anthem.

A rendition of Sleep, Dearie, Sleep played by the Queen’s piper will have huge significance to her family.

After the service, the bells of Westminster Abbey will be rung, fully muffled, as is the tradition following the sovereign’s funeral. The coffin will then continue its last journey through London and out to Windsor. The committal service at St George’s Chapel at 4pm will be smaller and far more personal.

And with no cameras present, the Royal Family will gather for a private interment at 7.30pm.

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