William and Harry lead vigil as Queen's eight grandchildren stand guard beside her coffin
Queen Elizabeth II’s eight grandchildren took part in a vigil at Westminster Hall to pay their respects to their beloved ‘granny’ on Saturday.
The former monarch’s grandchildren – Prince William, 40, Prince Harry, 38, Princess Beatrice, 34, Princess Eugenie, 32, Zara Tindall, 41, Peter Philips, 44, Lady Louise Windsor, 18, and James, Viscount Severn, 14 – stood in silence next to the coffin of their grandmother, the Queen, who died at Balmoral last week at the age of 96.
The eight cousins requested to commemorate the life and reign of the Queen at Westminster Hall, and had to get special permission from the King as it is the first time a monarch's grandchildren have ever mounted a vigil.
The cousins maintained their composure, despite the visibly emotional Vigil of the Princes as they stood guard for 15 minutes.
King Charles' two sons stood guard at the head and foot of the coffin, with William at the head, and Harry at the foot.
William was flanked by his older cousins, Zara Tindall and Peter Philips, Princess Anne’s children, whilst Prince Andrew’s daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie joined on either side of Prince Harry.
The Queen’s youngest grandchildren, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, stood either side of the coffin in the middle.
Their mother, a tearful Sophie, Countess of Wessex, watched on with their father Edward, Earl of Wessex from a raised platform to the side.
Prince Edward joined his older siblings, King Charles, Andrew, Duke of York, and Anne, the Princess Royal to take part in their own vigil on Friday night
The Queen’s four children stood vigil around their mother’s coffin, with their heads bowed, as members of the public filed slowly past them to pay their respects.
In an unexpected turn of events, the Duke of Sussex – who served in the army for 10 years – was able to wear his military uniform at the vigil for the first time since 2020 at the request of his father, the King.
Although he no longer holds a current military position, after he and Meghan Markle stepped back from royal duties in 2020, Harry wore the uniform of the Blues and Royals to honour his late grandmother and Commander-in-Chief.
Harry has so far worn civilian clothing, occasionally with his military medals pinned to a lapel, since the death of the Queen.
William, Prince of Wales, also wore the Blues and Royals No.1 uniform of the Household Cavalry from his own time serving as a search and rescue pilot.
Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and Zara Tindall all wore black midi dresses and matching headbands to pay their respects to their grandmother.
The Queen’s youngest grandchild, James, Viscount Severn, faced one of the most important roles of his life so far.
His sister, Lady Louise Windsor, lost her grandmother the Queen just days after starting at St. Andrews University earlier this month. Both appeared very moved by the vigil.
It comes as Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie released a joint statement earlier on Saturday to honour their ‘dearest grannie’.
“We've not been able to put much into words since you left us all,” the heartfelt letter reads. “There have been tears and laughter, silences and chatter, hugs and loneliness, and a collective loss for you, our beloved Queen and our beloved Grannie.”
“We, like many, thought you'd be here forever. And we all miss you terribly,” they add.
Earlier this week, William and Harry walked behind their father and grandmother in the procession carrying Her Majesty's coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where the Queen has been lying-in-state since Wednesday.
Speaking to some well-wishers as he viewed the flowers at the Queen’s Sandringham estate, William admitted that walking behind the Queen’s coffin at the London procession on Wednesday had brought back memories of walking behind his mother’s coffin at her funeral 25 years ago when he was a teenager.
Watch: King Charles III and his siblings hold vigil as public pay respects to the Queen