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King Carlos III and his brothers bid farewell to Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II’s children, led by King Charles III, held a vigil for their mother’s coffin in Westminster Hall on Friday, the funeral chapel for which many Britons are willing to wait in queues of more than 20 hours.

With circumspect faces, Carlos III, 73, and his brothers Ana (72), Andrés (62) and Eduardo (58) entered the majestic hall, the oldest part of the British Parliament, and in deathly silence they advanced to the coffin.

They ceremoniously climbed three of the four red steps on which the catafalque is located and stood on its four sides, with their heads bowed with their backs to the coffin.

They remained there for 12 minutes, before the attentive gaze of the British who continued to parade in front of the remains of the queen to give her their last goodbye. Then they left the room with the same solemnity.

Known as the “wake of the princes”, this tradition dates back to 1936, when George V’s four sons stood guard unannounced around his coffin.

Carlos and his brothers already watched over the coffin on Monday in Scotland, where the monarch died at the age of 96 on September 8 when he was at his summer residence in Balmoral.

On that occasion, Andrés did not wear his military uniform, an honor that the queen herself had deprived him of in life due to a sexual scandal. But on Friday, an exception allowed him to show off his finery.

Prince Henry, 38, who in 2020 decided with his wife Meghan to leave the royal family, will also be able to do so, when on Saturday he participates with the other seven grandchildren of Elizabeth II in a similar vigil.

22 hour queue

In Westminster Hall, the coffin of Elizabeth II rests on a purple catafalque, covered by the royal standard, the imperial crown and the scepter, symbols of power of the British monarchy.

The funeral chapel is open until 0630 (0530 GMT) on Monday, just hours before the funeral, and thousands of Britons continue to queue to visit it.

The huge influx forced the authorities on Friday to prevent more people from joining the kilometer-long queue that runs along the River Thames for hours. The wait was then around 14 hours. Shortly after its reopening, the government warned that it was a minimum of 22 hours.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid player David Beckham, 47, was seen there.

Dressed in a black suit, tie and coat, carrying a cap and an umbrella, he said he arrived at two in the morning. Twelve hours later he was seen leaving the funeral chapel, where he soberly bowed his head in front of the coffin and wiped away a tear.

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