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Queen’s family unite at coffin

The Queen’s children stood in solemn reflection as they guarded her coffin for a short vigil in Edinburgh while some of the first members of the public filed past.

Sep 13, 2022, updated Sep 13, 2022
People queue to see the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as she lies at rest at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo:AP/Bernat Armangue

People queue to see the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as she lies at rest at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo:AP/Bernat Armangue

The King, head bowed, returned to St Giles’ Cathedral with his sister the Princess Royal and brothers the Duke of York and Earl of Wessex a few hours after attending a service of thanksgiving for the Queen.

It came shortly after the public were able to file past the Queen’s coffin for the first time since her death on Thursday.

Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward looked sombre as they took their places at the four sides of the oak coffin.

They stood alongside four suited members of the Royal Company of Archers, who were standing guard dressed in long-feathered hats and armed with longbows and a quiver of arrows.

The procession of members of the public queuing to view the coffin on Monday evening was temporarily paused to allow the royals to take their places.

Andrew kept his eyes closed for a period of time during the vigil, while Anne and Edward had their eyes fixed towards the floor.

Charles, wearing Prince Charles Edward Stuart tartan and white heather in his lapel from Balmoral, kept his hands joined and also looked towards the floor.

Many of those filing past bowed to the new monarch.

The Queen Consort and Countess of Wessex sat on seats opposite the coffin while the vigil, which began at at 7.46pm and finished it at 7.56pm, took place in the ancient cathedral.

The Archers have been completing 20-minute periods of standing guard at the coffin, which will remain at St Giles’ for 24 hours before it is taken to London to lie in state.

Members of the crowd cheered as Charles arrived at the cathedral, and as he departed.

As he drove past them, they took pictures and video and said: “Here he is. Here he is. It’s the King.”

Charles waved at onlookers waiting at the barriers to see him.

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One woman was heard to say: “I missed him earlier and travelled up from Glasgow to see him. I waited five hours – I finally saw him.”

Earlier, Charles quoted Robert Burns as he spoke to members of the Scottish parliament in Holyrood for the first time as monarch.

Responding to a motion of condolence tabled as the Scottish parliament, Charles paid tribute to his late mother, who he said he was “determined” to emulate in her service to the country.

Addressing assembled MSPs, former first ministers, presiding officers and leading figures from Scottish civil society, the new King quoted from the famed Scottish poet as he praised his mother’s life of “incomparable service”.

“If I might paraphrase the words of the great Robert Burns, my dear mother was the friend of man, the friend of truth, the friend of age and guide of youth,” he said.

“Few hearts like her with virtue warmed, few heads with knowledge so informed.”

The quote was taken from Burns’ Epitaph On My Own Friend.

Charles went on to say: “While still very young, the Queen pledged herself to serve her country and her people and to maintain the principles of constitutional government.

“As we now mark with gratitude a promise most faithfully fulfilled, I am determined with God’s help and with yours to follow that inspiring example.”

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