Sophie Wessex looked sombre as she joined the Queen’s funeral procession this afternoon alongside Meghan Markle.
Prince Edward’s wife, 57, followed in a car and sat beside the Duchess of Sussex, 41, as the late monarch’s body was moved from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where she will lie in state until her funeral on Monday 19.
Members of the royal family including King Charles III, The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex, Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex followed the Queen’s coffin on foot during the move through London.
Sophie, dressed in a black ensemble which featured her glittering G.Collins and Sons infinity earrings, the Queen Consort and the Princess of Wales followed the procession in cars as it passed thousands of mourners who had come to pay their respects, before attending a service at Westminster Hall.
This is the last time the Queen’s coffin will be moved before her funeral on Monday at Westminster Abbey. After the ceremony, it will be taken to her final resting place, her beloved Windsor Castle.
Dressed all in black, mother-of-two Sophie, who has been by Prince Edward’s side ever since it was announced his mother had died last Thursday in Balmoral, looked deep in thought this afternoon.
Sophie was very close to her mother-in-law and has been noted as the monarch’s ‘favourite’ family member after she married Prince Edward.
The Countess formed a close bond with the royal family after losing her own mother, Mary Rhys-Jones, to stomach cancer in 2005 aged 71, when her daughter Lady Louise Windsor was only two.
She was also extremely distraught following the death of the Duke Edinburgh, and became the Queen’s ‘rock’ following his funeral.
Speaking in June last year, royal expert Duncan Larcombe told The Sun: ‘Sophie has emerged as the Queen’s unlikely “rock” as the monarch adjusts to life without Prince Philip. Prince Edward’s wife has – according to sources – made it her personal mission to ensure Her Majesty is fully supported by the family.
‘Since the Duke’s death in April, Sophie has driven the 10 miles from her Bagshot Park home to Windsor Castle every few days and most weekends to spend socially-distanced time with Her Majesty.’
For the days she couldn’t make it to see the Queen in person, the Countess ‘made a point of calling her mother-in-law at least once a day’.
Charles, the Prince of Wales and The Duke of Sussex, along with the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex formed part of the procession. Anne’s son Peter Phillips and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence also walked behind the procession, as well as the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Snowdon.
More than one million people are expected to queue in central London for up to 35 hours to walk past her casket – but experts believe only 400,000 will make it inside meaning 600,000 people will be left disappointed.
Well-wishers will begin filing past the coffin to mark the start of four-and-half days of the Queen lying in state.
A round-the-clock vigil will be mounted around the catafalque by officers of the Household Division, the King’s Body Guards of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, the King’s Body Guard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers and the King’s Body Guard the Yeomen of the Guard.
It will remain open 24 hours a day until at 6.30am on Monday. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line the streets to pay their respects to the Queen. The queue is expected to stretch for five miles, taking up to 30 hours to reach the front.
Once people have passed through Albert Embankment, they will be directed across Lambeth Bridge, into Victoria Tower Gardens Extra welfare facilities, including toilets and water fountains, have been placed sporadically along the route.
The Queen arrived at Buckingham Palace last night to tears and cheers from the huge crowds who stood in the pouring 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.
Mourners cheered and clapped in the rain as the new state hearse travelled down Constitution Hill and around the Queen Victoria Memorial as it slowed, then drove through the gates of the palace and through the central arch into the quadrangle.
Outriders stopped with their heads bowed at the end of the journey, while a police officer at the gate saluted.
People cheered ‘hip hip hooray’ after the coffin drove under the arch. Many lining the street put down their umbrellas as a sign of respect while some could be seen wiping tears from their eyes, while phone camera lights lit up the crowds.
Her Majesty was received by all her children and grandchildren, including the King and Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Shortly after witnessing the arrival of the coffin, Charles and Camilla left Buckingham Palace.
Prayers and a service reserved for close family members took place shortly after the coffin arrived last night, with the King, Camilla, William and Kate and Harry and Meghan all in attendance.
Princess Anne, who has travelled with her mother’s coffin from Balmoral to Edinburgh, and from the Scottish capital back to London, was also present with husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.
Peter Phillips, his sister Zara, Mike Tindall, the Duke of York and daughters Beatrice and Eugenie, along with their husbands Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Jack Brooksbank – were also among those gathered.
But Sarah Ferguson, ex-wife of Prince Andrew and who still lives with the duke, did not receive an invite because of their divorce.
The Queen stayed in the Bow Room in the palace overnight before she was transported to the Palace of Westminster, where she will lie in state until Monday, September 19 – the day of her state funeral at Westminster Abbey and burial at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
Sophie was overcome with emotion on Monday as she joined the senior royals for the vigil at St Giles’ Cathedral, with royal fans praising her ‘dignity’ despite the painful situation.
All four of Her Majesty’s children stood guard around her coffin on Monday in a poignant evening vigil in Edinburgh.
Sophie, 57, joined the Queen’s Consort at the vigil and was pictured sitting next to Camilla, looking sombre.
Social media users were quick to share their heartfelt words of support for Sophie, who enjoyed a particularly close relationship with her mother-in-law the Queen.
Earlier on in the day Sophie again joined the Queen’s Consort in a fleet of cars as the Queen’s children walked behind the hearse carrying the Queen to St Giles’ Cathedral this afternoon, ahead of a service of thanksgiving.
Wearing a black suit and a matching headpiece, Sophie looked sombre as she joined her fellow royals for the deeply solemn 1,200 yard procession, which took place in bright sunshine, with hundreds of well-wishers lining the city’s oldest streets.
Following the Queen’s Piper, King Charles, in full military regalia, lead his siblings on foot including the Duke of York, Earl of Wessex and the Princess Royal – while the Queen Consort and other members of the monarchy followed in cars.
The mother-of-two appeared deep in thought as the coffin of the late monarch left the Holyroodhouse Palace earlier this afternoon.
She has been showing unwavering support for her husband Prince Edward since the announcement of the Queen’s death.
Sophie was seen entering St Giles, standing very close to her husband, who was wearing his military uniform and titles for the sombre occasion.