William and Harry stood together with their wives Kate and Meghan today as they put aside their bitter feud to honour the Queen for her lying in state service inside Westminster Hall.
While the brothers walked side-by-side for the poignant 38-minute procession from Buckingham Palace, their spouses travelled in separate cars, with Meghan accompanied by the Countess of Wessex and Kate joined by Camilla, the Queen Consort.
During the service, the ‘Fab Four’ stood in formation facing the coffin on its purple-covered catafalque, which was flanked with a tall, yellow flickering candle at each corner of the wide scarlet platform in the heart of Westminster Hall – the backdrop of some of the most famous moments in British history.
The Sussexes stood at the back of the group of royals, with Harry directly behind William and Meghan behind Kate. The touching moment is the first time the couples have been seen together since their surprise walkabout together at Windsor Castle on Saturday, and a rare show of togetherness.
The Queen’s coffin entered Westminster Hall as the choir of Westminster Abbey and the choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, sang Psalm 139. When the Queen arrived, Charles, William and Anne saluted. Harry and Prince Andrew – barred from wearing military uniform – bowed their head instead.
The Archbishop of Canterbury then read the opening prayer, which the King led the royals in reciting. The family stood silently for the short service that the late monarch had put together with the Church of England before she died aged 96.
After the congregation was dismissed, cries of ‘God save the King’ could be heard as the King and the Queen Consort left Westminster Hall as Big Ben rang out at 3.30pm. Royal couples left the building side by side, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex holding hands and the Princess of Wales rubbing her husband’s arm reassuringly.
From 5pm mourners will be able to file past the coffin to pay their respects to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch with an estimated 1million people expected to queue for up to 30 hours to see her before the state funeral on Monday.
The procession poignantly passed the statue of the Queen’s parents King George VI and the Queen Mother which overlooks The Mall. The Imperial State Crown, worn by the Queen on the way back to Buckingham Palace after her Coronation, glittered in the daylight as the crowds held aloft their phones to capture the scenes.
After a 38 minute journey to the cradle of British democracy, the coffin was brought into the Houses of Parliament via the Carriage Gates entrance and passed through New Palace Yard, which features at its centre a fountain to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
The King and the Queen Consort led the Royal Family into Westminster Hall – with William and Kate standing in front of Harry and Meghan during the 20 minute service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Hundreds of thousands of people lined the route but there was a silent reverence as the coffin appeared. There were some muted cheers and clapping and cries of God Save the Queen as well as many tears shed as the late monarch left her London home for the final time. All viewing areas on The Mall, Whitehall and Parliament Square were full by 1pm – with people turned away.
The Queen’s coffin was draped with the Royal Standard and adorned with the glittering, priceless Imperial State Crown on a purple velvet cushion and a wreath of white flowers for the procession to the lying in state. The flowers were white roses, spray white roses, white dahlias and foliage, including pine from the gardens at Balmoral and pittosporum, lavender and rosemary from the gardens at Windsor.
The procession left the palace at 2.22pm and is expected to arrive at Westminster Hall at 3pm. A service lasting around 20 minutes will be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury accompanied by the Dean of Westminster.
Princess Anne, who has remained with her mother since she died last Thursday, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward also followed the coffin on the 1.2mile journey to Westminster Hall – the ancient heart of the Houses of Parliament where up to 1million Britons hope to see the Queen lying in state there as her father and mother did in 1952 and 2002.
Queen Consort Camilla, the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Sussex and the Countess of Wessex followed by car. Zara and Mike Tindall. Princess Beatrice, her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank are also taking part. But Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson did not receive an invite because of their divorce.
The occasion is heavy with historical significance, with brothers Prince William and Prince Harry setting aside their ongoing feud to support their father by marching with him behind the coffin. For William and Harry it will bring back painful memories of when they, aged 15 and 12, walked behind the coffin of their mother Princess Diana in 1997.
The Queen’s coffin was borne on a Gun Carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery – poignantly used for the coffins of the late Queen’s mother and father.
Known as the George Gun Carriage, it carried King George VI from Sandringham Church to Wolferton Station after his death in 1952 and was used in the funeral of the Queen Mother in 2002.
The royals moved in time to the imposing funeral marches, in step with one another and the troops.
William stared straight ahead as he processed directly behind his father the King, in keeping with his place as the new heir to the throne.
Charles, in his Field Marshal uniform, held onto the end of his Field Marshal Baton, which was presented to him by his mother when he became Field Marshal in 2012.
Solemn members of the Royal Family gathered this lunchtime to prepare to accompany the Queen for her poignant final journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where she will lie in state for the next five nights.
The crowd burst into applause and cheers as King Charles III passed the Victoria Memorial in his state Rolls Royce as he was taken into the residence, followed later by Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice and Queen Consort Camilla.
Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers are expected to line the route as they do so. The Queen’s other children Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Princess Anne will also form part of the procession through London.
Her Majesty spent her final night in the Bow Room of Buckingham Palace before she will be conveyed on a gun carriage to Westminster Hall – where she will lie in state until 6.30am next Monday, the day of her funeral.
More than one million people are expected to queue in Central London for up to 35 hours to walk past her coffin – but experts believe only 400,000 will make it inside meaning 600,000 people will be left disappointed.
Mourners have also been joining the queue to attend the lying in state, opening at 5pm tonight. Government guidance says the queue is expected to be very long, with people standing for ‘many hours, possibly overnight’.
The queuing infrastructure for the Queen’s lying in state is 10 miles in length, it is understood. This includes 6.9 miles from Victoria Tower Gardens to Southwark Park, with a further three miles inside Southwark Park.
The Queen arrived at the palace last night to tears and cheers from the crowds who stood in the rain to welcome her home after her death at Balmoral last Thursday. The route from RAF Northolt to the palace was packed.
There was a wave of lights as many raised their mobile phones in the air to film the hearse as it passed. As the hearse drove through the gates, Charles could be seen bowing his head with Harry and Meghan stood behind.