The Countess of Wessex cuddled delighted children including a baby and brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of well-wishers gathered outside Buckingham Palace with her husband today – after the beloved couple said the Royal Family had been ‘overwhelmed by the tide of emotion’ following the Queen’s death.
Royal fans applauded Sophie and Prince Edward and could be heard telling them ‘sorry for your loss’ as the couple shook the hands of dozens of mourners outside the palace gates this afternoon – shortly after King Charles III and the Prince of Wales met mourners queueing along the banks of the Thames to see the Queen lying-in-state at the Palace of Westminster.
The Queen’s youngest son could be heard asking mourners where they had come from and whether they were making their way to Green Park to lay flowers. He then told them that the Queen would ‘appreciate’ the number of people paying their respects – while his wife was given bouquets and a stuffed toy as she shook hands with those gathered.
The Countess stopped to look at one young girl’s T-shirt, which was printed with photos of the Queen through the decades of her reign. Sophie collected armfuls of flowers including sunflowers and roses, and was given paper tributes to the late monarch by some of the well-wishers.
The couple also walked over to meet members of the public stood behind barriers on the edge of nearby Green Park.
In an emotional statement released just hours before he attended a poignant vigil with his siblings the King, the Duke of York and the Princess Royal in Westminster Hall last night, the Earl of Wessex said: ‘As a family, we have grown up learning to share our parents, especially our beloved mama, with the nation, her realms and the Commonwealth.
‘While it has been lovely to have spent time saying our own farewell privately at Balmoral, it is now time to allow others to be able to say their farewell.
The Countess of Wessex cuddles a baby as she greets well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace
Sophie, Countess of Wessex cuddled a baby in an adorable moment on a surprise walkabout
Sophie shakes the hand of a young boy sat on his father’s shoulders on a surprise walkabout
Sophie, Countess of Wessex greets royal fans outside Buckingham Palace
The Countess of Wessex meeting well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace
The Countess of Wessex meeting well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace following the death of Queen Elizabeth II
Prince Edward waves at well-wishers outside the gates of Buckingham Palace
The Earl of Wessex meeting well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace today
The Earl and Countess of Wessex during a walkabout outside Buckingham Palace
The Countess of Wessex takes flowers from well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace
Sophie shakes the hands of well-wishers gathered outside Buckingham Palace today
The Countess of Wessex meeting well-wishers during a walkabout on The Mall
We’ve been overwhelmed by tide of emotion: Edward and Sophie’s tribute to the Queen
As a family, we have grown up learning to share our parents, especially our beloved mama, with the nation, her realms and the Commonwealth. While it has been lovely to have spent time saying our own farewell privately at Balmoral, it is now time to allow others to be able to say their farewell.
We have been overwhelmed by the tide of emotion that has engulfed us and the sheer number of people who have gone out of their way to express their own love, admiration and respect to such a very special and unique person who was always there for us. And now, we are there for her, united in grief. Thank you for your support, you have no idea how much it means.
The Queen’s passing has left an unimaginable void in all our lives. Sophie and I have taken huge pleasure in seeing our James and Louise enjoying the places and activities that their grandparents loved so much. Given that my mama let us spend so much time with her, I think she also rather enjoyed watching those passions blossom. Those times together, those happy memories, have now become massively precious to each and every one of us.
May God bless Her Majesty and may her memory be long cherished even as the baton she has carried for these past 70 years now passes to the next generation and to my brother, Charles.
Long live the King.
‘We have been overwhelmed by the tide of emotion that has engulfed us and the sheer number of people who have gone out of their way to express their own love, admiration and respect to such a very special and unique person who was always there for us.
‘And now, we are there for her, united in grief. Thank you for your support, you have no idea how much it means.
‘The Queen’s passing has left an unimaginable void in all our lives. Sophie and I have taken huge pleasure in seeing our James and Louise enjoying the places and activities that their grandparents loved so much.
‘Given that my mama let us spend so much time with her, I think she also rather enjoyed watching those passions blossom. Those times together, those happy memories, have now become massively precious to each and every one of us.
‘May God bless Her Majesty and may her memory be long cherished even as the baton she has carried for these past 70 years now passes to the next generation and to my brother, Charles. Long live the King.’
On Thursday, Prince Edward and Countess Sophie greeted mourners in Manchester as thousands turned out to pay tribute to the Queen. The day before, the couple were part of the procession which brought the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall.
In Manchester, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, met Josh, a young mourner who was waiting to see her with his mother, Sue.
Recounting the moment they met, Sue said: ‘She just said ”nice to meet you, do you want me to take your flowers?” Then Josh said ”can I have a hug?”. They hugged, then he asked for a photo. The bouquet is signed from Josh but it’s got my name on it as well.’
Asked what the moment felt like, Josh – who is non-verbal – replied: ‘Happy.’
Edward and Sophie paid tribute to the Queen at Westminster Hall alongside their children, Lady Louse and Viscount Severn, earlier in the week.
It comes after King Charles and his son Prince William greeted mourners in the queue for the Queen’s lying in state.
Hundreds of people in line at Lambeth, south London, cheered and applauded as Charles and William emerged on Saturday afternoon, before the pair thanked those waiting to pay their respects to the late monarch at Westminster Hall. One woman offered the King condolences as he shook her hand, and another shouted: ‘I can’t believe this.’
Sophie, Countess of Wessex meeting royal fans outside the gates of Buckingham Palace
Prince Edward meeting mourners gathered outside Buckingham Palace this afternoon
Sophie, Countess of Wessex greeted well-wishers on a surprise walkabout outside Buckingham Palace today
King Charles greets people queueing to pay their respects to the Queen in London
King Charles III meets members of the public in the queue along the South Bank
Camilla, Queen Consort, speaks with Catherine, Princess of Wales, during a lunch held for governors-general of the Commonwealth nations at Buckingham Palace
The Princess of Wales during a lunch held for governors-general of the Commonwealth nations at Buckingham Palace
Dozens shouted ‘hip hip hooray’ as Charles and William moved down the line, stopping for a few moments with each person. Several people called their friends and relatives on the phone to tell them what they had just witnessed. Others also shouted ‘God save the King’ and ‘God save the Prince of Wales’ as each passed.
William could be heard discussing how long people had waited and whether they were able to keep warm. Several people cried after meeting him, and one woman told him: ‘You’ll be a brilliant king one day.’
Charles left before William, both of them in cars surrounded by police vehicles.
Meanwhile, the queue for the lying in state began to grow in Southwark Park, with a steady stream of mourners continuing to join the end of the line.
The sign at the mouth of the queue told mourners it will be a 14-hour wait minimum, which was generally greeted by relief by well-wishers, with one group cheering as they walked past.
King Charles greets people queueing to pay their respects to the Queen lying-in-state at Westminster Hall
King Charles greets people queueing to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth following her death
The Prince of Wales is presented with a Paddington Bear along the South Bank
Prince William reacts next to people queuing to pay their respects to the late Queen
William, Prince of Wales greets people queueing to see the Queen lying-in-state
King Charles is presented with a Paddington Bear as he meets well-wishers in London
Queen’s lying in state: What you need to know
The Queen is lying in state in London ahead of her funeral. Here is some of the information mourners need to know.
– What exactly is meant by the term ‘lying in state’?
Lying in state is usually reserved for sovereigns, current or past queen consorts, and sometimes former prime ministers.
During the formal occasion, the closed coffin is placed on view, as thousands of people queue to file past and pay their respects.
The coffin will be adorned with the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre.
– When and where will the Queen lie in state?
The late monarch’s lying in state in Westminster Hall opened to the public at 5pm yesterday and it will be open 24 hours a day until it closes at 6.30am on Monday, September 19 – the day of the Queen’s funeral.
– Where is Westminster Hall?
Westminster Hall, which dates back to 1099, is in the Palace of Westminster and is the oldest building on the parliamentary estate.
It forms part of the Westminster Unesco World Heritage Site and the UK Parliament website refers to its ‘great size’, the ‘magnificence’ of its roof, and its central role in British history.
The building has been the site of key events, such as the trial of Charles I, coronation banquets, and addresses by world leaders.
– Is there a big queue?
Yes. Government guidance says there will be a queue which is expected to be very long, predicted to be in the tens of thousands.
As it stands the queue is about 14 hours long.
People will need to stand for ‘many hours, possibly overnight’, with very little opportunity to sit down as the queue will be continuously moving.
People are not allowed to camp and a wristband system is being used to manage the queue, with those waiting in line given a coloured and numbered one, specific to each person, allowing them to leave for a short period.
‘Your wristband also allows you to leave the queue for a short period to use a toilet or get refreshments, then return to your place in the queue,’ according to the official guidance.
– What is the queue route?
Members of the public can join the line on the Albert Embankment, which runs behind the London Eye onto the Southbank before following the river past landmarks such as the National Theatre, the Tate Modern and HMS Belfast, reaching ‘maximum capacity’ at Southwark Park.
– Is there assistance for people who cannot queue for long periods of time?
The main queue has step-free access with a separate accessible route also planned to run from Tate Britain where timed entry slots will be issued for a queue going along Millbank to the Palace of Westminster.
Guide dogs will be allowed inside Westminster Hall, with sign language interpreters also on hand.
Venues including the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe will open for longer hours to accommodate those queuing. The British Film Institute on the Southbank will do the same while providing an outdoor screen with archive footage of the Queen.
It came after the King thanked emergency service staff for their work during the mourning period.
Charles met London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley and was briefed by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors and Commander Karen Findlay, who are leading police operations around London ahead of and during the funeral of the Queen. Home Secretary Suella Braverman and mayor of London Sadiq Khan were also present.
Early this morning, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s queue tracker warned people not to travel to join the back of the lying in state queue. It changed the guidance at 8am saying the line had reached Southwark Park with wait times ‘at least 24 hours’.
Although it was a very bright morning in central London temperatures remained cool, particularly in the shade, at around 12C.
Alfie, 11, from Lancashire, wore his Scouts uniform complete with Platinum Jubilee badge, to join the queue for the lying in state.
His grandmother, Karen Todd, said: ‘Alfie really wanted to pay his respects to the Queen, and he wanted to come in his Scout uniform to honour her. And we came because it’s a momentous occasion and a moment in history. They’ll always remember this for the rest of their lives, so we’ve only got this one opportunity.’
Later, the Queen’s grandchildren will stand guard around her coffin. William will be joined by his brother the Duke of Sussex in wearing uniform at Westminster Hall.
Harry, who saw action on the front line during two tours of duty in Afghanistan, has previously been denied the chance to wear his military uniform as he publicly mourns, because he is no longer a working royal. But royal sources say the King has decided his youngest son can wear uniform for the vigil, saying he will stand at the foot of the coffin, with William at the head.
William will be flanked by his cousins Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, while Harry will be with Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, with Lady Louise Windsor and her brother Viscount Severn at the middle of the coffin.
Last night, the Queen’s children – Charles, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex – took part in their own vigil.
It comes as final preparations are under way for the funeral on Monday, with politicians and royal dignitaries from around the world expected to arrive throughout the weekend.
Queueing today, Shiv Pandian, 58, from Raynes Park, south-west London, said his 30 years working as a urologist for the NHS had prepared him for a long wait.
‘There’s lots of places to eat and toilets and things; you’re used to working long hours at the NHS,’ he said, laughing. ‘The Queen has served us for 70 years. I’ve served along with her for 30 years. I’ve seen three jubilees of hers, and I want to say goodbye.’
He added: ‘I got out at Waterloo and followed the queue backwards, and then at one point I was guided here to Southwark Park. Then it said reassuringly, it’s 14 hours from the entrance here, so I’m hoping by midnight today I’ll have seen the Queen.’
Paula Priest, 53, from Wolverhampton, said she was happy to wait ‘as long as it takes’ to reach Westminster Hall. ‘We’re here for the duration now, definitely.’
Those who braved the trip despite Government warnings were pleasantly surprised by the pace of the queue. Later on Saturday morning the tracker had stopped telling mourners not to travel, and the wait had dropped to 16 hours.
There was constant movement through Southwark Park until the Thames path along Bermondsey Wall East where the queue became more stationary.
Bright pink wristbands, which state they do not guarantee entry to Westminster Hall, continue to be handed out. Those waiting described the experience as well-organised, with friendly staff and officers on hand to assist.
This morning, new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley was seen patrolling the queue for the Queen’s lying in state near Lambeth Palace in south London. He greeted mourners, including several who were wearing blankets after waiting in line for hours through the early morning, and walked from the east towards Lambeth Bridge.
Alfie, 11, from Lancashire, wore his Scouts uniform complete with Platinum Jubilee badge, to join the queue for the lying in state.
His grandmother, Karen Todd, said: ‘Alfie really wanted to pay his respects to the Queen, and he wanted to come in his Scout uniform to honour her.
‘And we came because it’s a momentous occasion and a moment in history. They’ll always remember this for the rest of their lives, so we’ve only got this one opportunity.’
King Charles III meets members of the public in the queue along the South Bank
William, Prince of Wales waves and shakes the hands of well-wishers along the South Bank
William, Prince of Wales joins King Charles III for a visit to Lambeth Met HQ
Mourners including young children wrap up after temperatures plummeted overnight – as they queue to see the Queen
Wellwisher gives King Charles a pen ‘just in case’ after first days of his reign are beset by ink disasters
The new King Charles was given a pen ‘just in case’ by well-wishers on his walkabout in Cardiff yesterday after his latest ink disasters.
This follows after the King was left furious by a string of ink mishaps during his visit to Northern Ireland earlier this week.
The public clearly caught wind of his frustration after clips of the monarch started circling online showing him visibly upset by the pen ordeal.
A video clip of the handover shows a woman in the crowd hand the pen to the King whilst cheekily smiling at him. The surrounding crowd then start clapping and laughing at the gift. King Charles then take the pen gracefully, looks down at it in his hand and starts laughing, clearly amused by the gesture.
The Monarch and the Queen Consort arrived in Wales yesterday in their first visit since the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Royal couple made their way to Llandaff Cathedral to attend a prayer and reflection service for his late mother and Britain’s longest serving head of state.
However, the King came prepared with his own pen and was filmed calmly signing the paper in the cathedral before passing his pen and the book to his wife.
The King’s decision to carry his own fountain pen comes days after a few drops on ink soured the mood at Hillsborough Castle, Belfast, earlier this week.
The family left home at 11.45pm on Friday, and Ms Todd said she ‘had to sleep in a car park for an hour and a half’ before getting on a bus to reach the queue.
Upon checking the queue tracker, Ms Todd said: ‘We were going to come this evening, but we came earlier because we didn’t want to miss it.’ She added: ‘It’s been okay. Clear roads. It’s well organised. Just hoping my legs and feet stay strong.’
The family brought thermals and plenty of snacks for the wait.
Sachet Pariyar had travelled from Basingstoke with his father, who had served in the Queen’s Gurkha regiment, to attend the lying in state.
He said: ‘My dad served in the British Army before and the Queen’s Gurkha regiment, and my grandfather as well. So, we feel like we have that connection with the Queen and we wanted to come and pay respects.’
He added that he had been checking the queue’s live tracker and had seen it might take 24 hours, adding he was ‘a bit worried’ about the wait, but ‘thought if we can get the wristband, then we will give it a try’.
Linda Partridge, 71, and Simon Hopkins, 59, travelled down from the West Midlands for the lying in state, despite warnings that the queue was closed, because they felt ‘that need to come down’.
Ms Partridge, who had left home at 3am, said: ‘Even though they said it was closed I felt that need to come down. If we’ve got here and then they turned away, then fine. I would have just felt I needed to come and then be told I couldn’t go’.
Mr Hopkins added: ‘There was a sense of perhaps ‘best not travel’ but just to make the journey and just to check it out, and you know, if it ended in disappointment, and then so be it.’
He likened the experience to a ‘pilgrimage’, which he said, ‘is a bit strange, because that kind of goes against my grain. I’ve been kind of drawn into it.’
James Birchall, 33, a trainee physiotherapist who travelled from Liverpool to pay his respects, was also queuing.
He said: ‘Now I just feel normal and unemotional but as I get closer and closer (to the Queen’s coffin) I think I’ll start to become more emotional and maybe five minutes before I go in I’ll probably, even though I don’t look like the type of person, I’ll probably start crying. I absolutely loved the Queen, she was great, she had been there all my life, I have always had respect for her. She was great for our country, always did her duty right until she died.
‘When she died I was overcome with emotion and I thought, I have got to come to London to see it.’
On the thousands of people queuing, he added: ‘I’m absolutely amazed because there is so many people, young and old – I did not think young people would come, necessarily, because they are not really in tune with monarchy, but there’s so many young people here to pay their respects which I think is awesome.’
Also queuing was Vlasta Picker, 73, of Bedford, who said: ‘I came here in 1977 on the Silver Jubilee. Growing up in central Europe, monarchy was a thing of the past, history.
‘I was really quite mesmerised, it was massive in 1977 and I have admired her ever since because she was a wonderful person, unique. To serve all her life until the end, it’s something, isn’t it? Unprecedented. And that’s why I want to be here.’
Members of the public file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s orb and sceptre, lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall
Lord and Lady, Michael and Anne Heseltine in the queue to view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II
A woman reacts after viewing the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II
More mourners carry coffee cups as they queue through Southwark Park to see the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall
Mourners queueing in Southwark Park as they wait to see the Queen lying-in-state
Members of the public build their tents in front Westminster Hall and Big Ben
The King’s first intervention? Charles tells Mark Drakeford he is ‘concerned’ about cost of living crisis
The King is ‘concerned’ about how people will manage during what is going to be a ‘difficult winter’, according to the First Minister of Wales.
Mark Drakeford said the impact of the cost-of-living crisis came up in conversation with Charles during their audience on Friday, after the new monarch addressed the Welsh Parliament for the first time as sovereign.
The First Minister said the King also told him he was interested in renewable energy generation in Wales, and how it might play a ‘bigger part’ in future energy security.
Mr Drakeford told TalkTV: ‘The King has always had a very direct interest in the things that are happening in contemporary Wales, the future of our agriculture, the impact of climate change.
‘He mentioned the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and how that will impact on people here in Wales.’
He added: ‘He (Charles) is concerned as to how people will manage through what is going to be a difficult winter.
‘He was interested to tell me about some of the projects that he has heard of, or become involved in dealing, for example, with food waste, making sure that we don’t waste a precious resource when some people might be going without.
‘Interested, as always in renewable energy generation here in Wales, and how it might play a bigger part in future energy security.’
Mr Drakeford has suggested the investiture proceedings for William, the new Prince of Wales, need not follow the same form as that of the 1969 ceremony that saw the title bestowed upon his father.
He told TalkTV: ‘Well, I certainly don’t think that 1969 is a good guide for what should happen in 2022. Wales is a very different place.
‘The nature of the monarchy has developed over that period. My message is that we shouldn’t be in a rush about all of this.
‘We should allow the new prince, as I say, to become familiar with his new responsibilities, develop the job in a way that will work for him and will work for Wales.
‘And then we can think about how and whether there is a need for any further ceremonial underpinning of what has already been announced.’
Figures from the London Ambulance Service (LAS) show that 435 members of the public were treated along the route of the queue to see the Queen lying in state and surrounding areas over the past two days.
Some 291 people along the route of the queue and nearby in London were given medical assistance on Wednesday, with 17 needing hospital treatment, the LAS said. A further 144 people were treated on Thursday, with 25 people being taken to hospital.
The LAS said the majority of incidents attended were faints and collapses, resulting in head injuries.
It came as David Beckham made it inside Westminster Hall at about 3.30pm yesterday after joining the queue at 2am.
Meanwhile some people are trying to cash in by selling used wristbands for up to £350 on eBay. Those joining the queue receive wristbands to mark their place – so they can leave for a drink, or to go to the toilet, and then return.
MPs can jump the queue and bring in up to four guests, to the anger of those being forced to wait. Among those visiting yesterday were Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner.
This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby cut sombre figures as they were seen at Westminster Hall. MailOnline was told the TV duo joined a separate queue for press and were taken into a press gallery.
Ex-England captain Beckham was spotted queueing at about 12.30pm, after joining the line at 2am to wait with everyone else. His representative confirmed to MailOnline that he had queued with the public, and said those around him initially did not take pictures of the 47-year-old star because there was an air of ‘mutual respect’.
Inside the park, a crowd formed in the holding pen next to the main queue as people begged to be let in. Security teams were allowing 100 people at a time from the holding area to join the main queue every ten to 15 minutes.
But outside the park, some people waited in the street with no idea of when they might be able to even join the queue.
The Government said in an update just before 10am: ‘Southwark Park has reached capacity. Entry will be paused for at least 6 hours. We are sorry for any inconvenience. Please do not attempt to join the queue until it re-opens.’
Just after 12pm, the Government also said the accessible queue was now ‘at capacity for today and entry for allocation of wristbands is currently paused’, adding that those with wristbands and entry times will still get in.
But then at 1pm, the entrance to Southwark Park reopened despite the Government still saying that the queue has been paused.
The gates were originally shut as queue attendants sought to deter new arrivals. However a second queue quickly began to form outside the park along Jamaica Road, leading attendants to reopen the gate.
A Number 10 spokesman directed questions to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, but said it was ‘the case that what DCMS have done is they’ve temporarily paused the queue for at least six hours after it reached maximum capacity.
‘That has always been part of our planning and that is to make sure as many as people as possible in the queue can enter the Palace of Westminster. But we keep it under review and there will be further updates from DCMS.’
The spokesman would not state what number of people represented ‘maximum capacity’ for the queue.
As Beckham approached Westminster Hall, he told Sky News: ‘This day was always going to be a difficult day. Our thoughts are with the family, it’s very special to hear all of the stories from people here. The most special moment for me was to receive my OBE. I took my grandparents with me who were huge royalists. I was so lucky that I was able to have a few moments like that in my life to be around Her Majesty. It’s a sad day, but a day to remember.’
Beckham added that it ‘meant so much’ to sing the National Anthem before England matches.
He told ITV News: ‘I thought by coming at 2am it was going to be a little bit quieter, but I was wrong, everybody had that in mind. But the people here, all ages, there was an 84-year-old lady walking around, a 90-year-old gentleman walking around. Everybody wants to be here to be part of this experience and to celebrate what Her Majesty has done for us.’