King Charles III’s sons Prince William and Harry and their wives Kate and Meghan have all appeared at Windsor Castle to inspect the sea of floral tributes laid outside the gates of the Berkshire estate in tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The brothers put aside the differences which have fractured the Royal Family and plunged the monarch into one of its most severe crises to put on a show of solidarity, accompanied by their wives the Duchess of Cornwall and and the Duchess of Sussex.
Earlier today the Prince of Wales paid an emotional tribute to his late ‘Grannie’, describing the beloved monarch as an ‘extraordinary leader, whose commitment to the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth was absolute’ and admitting it would be ‘some time’ before her loss ‘will truly feel real’.
In a heartbreaking statement, William revealed how Her Majesty – who sadly passed away at Balmoral Castle on Thursday afternoon aged 96 – had provided him and his wife Kate Middleton ‘wisdom and reassurance’ and their children ‘memories that will last their whole lives’.
The Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge, as William will now known after his father King Charles III acceded to the throne, said: ‘On Thursday, the world lost an extraordinary leader, whose commitment to the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth was absolute. So much will be said in the days ahead about the meaning of her historic reign.
‘I, however, have lost a grandmother. And while I will grieve her loss, I also feel incredibly grateful. I have had the benefit of The Queen’s wisdom and reassurance into my fifth decade. My wife has had 20 years of her guidance and support. My three children have got to spend holidays with her and create memories that will last their whole lives.
‘She was by my side at my happiest moments. And she was by my side during the saddest days of my life. I knew this day would come, but it will be some time before the reality of life without Grannie will truly feel real.
‘I thank her for the kindness she showed my family and me. And I thank her on behalf of my generation for providing an example of service and dignity in public life that was from a different age, but always relevant to us all.
‘My grandmother famously said that grief was the price we pay for love. All of the sadness we will feel in the coming weeks will be testament to the love we felt for our extraordinary Queen. I will honour her memory by supporting my father, The King, in every way I can.’
It comes as royal courtiers announced that the Queen’s funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey on Monday September 19 at 11am. Senior palace officials revealed that Her Majesty’s oak coffin, which is lying in the Ballroom at Balmoral Castle, will be taken by road to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on Sunday September 11, on a six-hour journey by hearse. The Queen will then lie in state for ‘four clear days’ in Westminster Hall from Wednesday September 14 before the state funeral.
Thousands of people will be able to file past to see the late monarch’s coffin – and further details of how the public can attend will be announced in the coming days.
Earlier today the late Queen’s close family including Prince Andrew publicly grieved over the death of the elderly monarch at a private church service in Balmoral – after Charles III was formally proclaimed at a historic ceremony at St James’s Palace in London.
The Prince of Wales has today paid tribute to his late ‘Grannie’ Queen Elizabeth II, describing the beloved monarch as an ‘extraordinary leader, whose commitment to the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth was absolute’. In a heartbreaking statement, Prince William revealed how Her Majesty – who died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday aged 96 – had provided him and his wife Kate Middleton ‘wisdom and reassurance’ and their children ‘memories that will last them a lifetime’
A police officer lays flowers, following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, in Windsor
Members of the public queue to pay their respects at Windsor Castle in Berkshire
Left to right: Princess Eugenie, Peter Phillips, Lady Louise Windsor, Zara Tindall, Sophie Countess of Wessex, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence wave to the members of the public after looking at the floral tributes for Queen Elizabeth II, as others look on, outside the gates of Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire
King Charles III waving to well-wishers gathered from his state Rolls-Royce outside Buckingham Palace today
In Balmoral, dressed smartly in a suit, white shirt and black tie, the Duke of York – who was exiled from public life after his car-crash Newsnight interview about his friendship with billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein – said: ‘We’ve been allowed one day, now we start the process of handing her on.’
Cameras also captured the moment that the Duke of York wrapped his arms around his family including his brother and sister-in-law Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex shortly after getting out of a cavalcade of Range Rovers – before waving to a crowd of mourners at the Aberdeenshire estate who applauded the senior royals.
Three of the Queen’s four children – the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and Earl of Wessex – joined the Countess of Wessex, Anne’s husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and the Queen’s grandchildren Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and Lady Louise Windsor for a walkabout after attending a prayer service at Crathie Kirk.
The family spent just under 10 minutes intently reading the tributes and admiring the flowers before they returned inside Balmoral Castle.
Edward, accompanied by his wife who was holding hands with their daughter Lady Louise, thanked well-wishers lining the route back to Balmoral Castle. Hearing one group had come from Glasgow to show their support, he said: ‘Thank you very much for coming all that way, we appreciate it.’
People are still leaving flowers and other tributes at both Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, and at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh – where one visitor left a copy of Michael Bond’s book Paddington At The Rainbow’s End. A note written on it said simply: ‘One last story Ma’am. X’ – a reference to Her Majesty’s skit with the beloved children’s character for the Platinum Jubilee.
With many heading for Balmoral in Aberdeenshire, where the Queen died on Thursday, the authorities there urged people not to drive to the castle.
Aberdeenshire Council issued a reminder that there is ‘no vehicle access to Balmoral for leaving floral tributes’, saying people should instead use park and ride services from the nearby villages of Ballater and Braemar.
‘Please note services are expected to be very busy, so please allow plenty of time for your journey,’ the statement added.
Senior royals including Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex were seen embracing each other as they attend a private church service at the Balmoral estate for Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday aged 96
Princess Eugenie wept as senior royals attended a private church service for the Queen at Balmoral
Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, looks on outside Balmoral Castle, following the passing of her mother Queen Elizabeth II
Zara Tindall weeps as she and the Princess Royal, Andrew and Edward attended a private church service in Balmoral today
Princess Beatrice, Peter Phillips, Lady Louise Windsor, Zara Tindall, Sophie Countess of Wessex and Prince Andrew gesture to the members of the public after looking at the floral tributes for Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice are consoled by their father Prince Andrew as they look at the floral tributes for Queen Elizabeth II outside the gates of Balmoral Castle
Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Prince Edward view floral tributes outside Balmoral Castle
Prince Andrew looking sombre as he leaves Balmoral Castle in Scotland today for a private church service
Prince Andrew and Prince Edward inspect the floral tributes at Balmoral laid for their mother the Queen
Senior members of the royal family including The Princess Royal and the Wessexes wave to well-wishers at Balmoral
Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice attending a private church service in Balmoral this afternoon
From right to left: Prince Andrew, Duke of York stands with his daughters Princess Eugenie of York and Princess Beatrice of York, along with Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence and Peter Phillips, as they look at the flowers placed outside Balmoral Castle
The Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, Lady Louise Windsor and the Countess of Wessex on a walkabout to thank members of the public Balmoral in Scotland
The Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence walk to meet and thank members of the public at Balmoral in Scotland
Meanwhile in Edinburgh, outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse, a table was set up where two security guards were cutting the plastic off bunches of flowers so that people can lay them on the ground. Stewards and police officers told the PA news agency the plastic is being removed for environmental reasons and to make it easier to replant the flowers later on.
Families with young children waited patiently to pay their respects to the beloved monarch. Among them was Euan Masson, his wife Emma and their children Ethan, 10 and Ellie, nine.
Mr Masson, 38, from nearby Inverurie, said: ‘We’ve come to pay our respects to a wonderful woman and thank her for her 76 years of service.’
Nicola Williams, 41, drove north from Fife with her husband Jeff, 43, and their daughters Emily, six, and Holly, four.
She said: ‘The Queen has been a constant in all our lives for such a long time. So we’ve come here to pay our respects to someone who was always there for us. She was a great example to all women. And so I want my daughters to be able to remember her by coming here today.’
William Bottomley, his wife Karen and his mother Philippa brought his three young children to Balmoral. Grandmother Philippa said: ‘We have come to pay our respects to a wonderful woman. It is something we had to do.’
Jackie McIntosh, 69, travelled from Aberdeen with partner John Coutts, 49, and sister Aileen Mitchell, 66, to pay their respects to the Queen at Balmoral. As the senior royals walked along greeting the crowds, Andrew asked her: ‘Where have you come from? How long have you been waiting?’
The Duke of York, Eugenie and Beatrice view the messages and floral tributes left by members of the public Balmoral
The Duke of York meets well-wishers outside Balmoral in Scotland following the death of Queen Elizabeth II
Prince Edward, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise and Sophie, Countess of Wessex looking at flowers at Balmoral
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, views tributes outside Balmoral Castle
Princess Beatrice, Peter Phillips, Lady Louise Windsor, Sophie Countess of Wessex, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence wave to the members of the public at Balmoral
Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and Princess Anne, Princess Royal talk as they gather with Peter Phillips, Zara Phillips and Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence looking at the flowers placed outside Balmoral Castle
Lady Louise Windsor (left) and Princess Eugenie (right) attending a service at Crathie Kirk
Andrew, Edward, Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor, Sophie and Eugenie at Balmoral
Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Prince Andrew view tributes outside Balmoral Castle
Lady Louise Windsor attends a service at Crathie Kirk, Balmoral
Airport worker Jackie said: ‘It is very sad to see them, they are a family at the end of the day. Prince Andrew asked how long we had waited, it was great to see them all together.’
Partner John added: ‘It’s only been a couple of days since they lost their mother, like the rest of us they are human, no one expected this. It was decent of them to speak with us.’
It comes as King Charles III smiled through his tears and waved at the crowd of well-wishers gathered outside the gates of Buckingham Palace after his proclamation earlier today – as mourners continue to leave floral tributes in memory of his beloved ‘mama’ Queen Elizabeth II after her death.
Well-wishers waited hours for a glimpse of the monarch, who automatically became King on the death of his mother the Queen on Thursday but was formally proclaimed by the Accession Council at St James’s Palace earlier today, as he was driven to Buckingham Palace in his state Rolls-Royce.
His wife Camilla, Queen Consort arrived at the palace after her husband around 90 minutes later, smiling and waving at the crowd.
It was initially believed that the King and Queen Consort would go on a walkabout to inspect the tributes and greet mourners at 12.15pm. However, Charles III had not left the Palace by 1pm, and this afternoon he will hold a series of audiences with Prime Minister Liz Truss, her senior Cabinet ministers, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, and Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Westminster.
At 10am this morning, the Accession Council – an ancient body of advisers that dates back as far as the time of the Norman Conquest – formally announced his role as Sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including Supreme Head of the Church of England and Commander-in-Chief of Britain’s Armed Forces, as well as Head of State of Commonwealth countries and British territories around the world.
Broadcast cameras were allowed into the historic event giving the world a first glimpse of a ceremony dating back centuries – and one of the first changes to convention instigated by the new King.
At 11am, trumpets then sounded from the balcony of St James’s Palace as the Principal Proclamation announcing the King was read out. Crowds gathered outside the palace as the King was officially proclaimed. Gun salutes at Hyde Park, the Tower of London, Edinburgh Castle, Hillsborough Castle and Cardiff Castle were then fired before the National Anthem was performed by The Band of the Coldstream Guards alongside eight State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. They were accompanied by the St James’s Palace Detachment of The King’s Guard made up of Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards.
The crowd of well-wishers joined the King’s Guard gathered outside the palace in three cries of ‘hip hip hooray’ for the King.
At St James’s shortly after 10.20am, Charles III made a personal declaration on the death of his beloved mother Queen Elizabeth II today and vowed to uphold ‘constitutional government and to seek the peace, harmony and prosperity of the peoples of these islands, and of the Commonwealth realms and territories throughout the world’.
King Charles III is driven to Buckingham Palace in his state Rolls-Royce after his proclamation at St James’s Palace
The tearful King was driven to Buckingham Palace after his proclamation at St James’s Palace
The King appeared to be touched by the public outpouring of support from well-wishers outside the Palace
King Charles III waving as his convoy enters Buckingham Palace in London
Camilla, Queen Consort smiles and waves at the crowd of well-wishers gathered outside Buckingham Palace
People gather near floral tributes placed outside Buckingham Palace in London
A girl with flowers and a Union Jack looks on outside Buckingham Palace
Members of the public gather outside Buckingham palace to lay flowers following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II
Members of the public gather outside Buckingham palace to lay flowers following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II
The Prince of Wales, the Queen, King Charles III and Lord President of the Council Penny Mordaunt during the Accession Council at St James’s Palace
King Charles III during the Accession Council at St James’s Palace, London
King Charles III signs an oath to uphold the security of the Church in Scotland during the Accession Council at St James’s Palace, London
The Accession Council in the throne room at St James’s Palace in London as King Charles III is formally proclaimed