Vigil of the Princes

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The Vigil of the Princes refers to occasions when members of the British royal family have "stood guard" during the lying in state of one of their relatives during or as part of a British state or ceremonial funeral. This occurred for King George V in 1936, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2002, and for Queen Elizabeth II in 2022. During the first two of these occasions, only male members of the British royal family joined the vigil. In 2022 however, Anne, Princess Royal, took part alongside her three brothers in vigils for her mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

King George V[edit]

King Edward VIII, the Duke of York, the Duke of Gloucester, and the Duke of Kent, took guard at the lying-in-state of their father George V on 27 January 1936. (A fifth son, Prince John, had predeceased his father in 1919.) The vigil took place after Westminster Hall was closed to the public for the evening.

No photographic record of this event is known and public viewing of the vigil was prohibited, though an oil painting made of it later by Frank Beresford was the official painting of the King's lying-in-state; it was exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1936 at Burlington House. The painting, named The Princes' Vigil: 12.15 am, January 28, 1936,[1] was subsequently purchased by George V's widow Queen Mary to give to their son Edward VIII on his birthday.[2] In the painting, the King is depicted wearing the uniform of the Grenadier Guards, of whom he was the Colonel-in-Chief, the Duke of Gloucester wears the full dress uniform of the 10th Royal Hussars (the regiment in which he served), while the Duke of Kent is in Ceremonial Day Dress uniform of the Royal Navy. The Duke of York is not seen fully in the painting, although at the end of the catafalque opposite the King is a figure in full Foot Guards uniform; at this point in time, the Duke of York served as Colonel of the Regiment of the Scots Guards.

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother[edit]

At 16:40 UTC on 8 April 2002, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, and Viscount Linley, took guard at the lying-in-state of their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.[3] The four relieved the guard of the Royal Company of Archers, and were themselves relieved by the Yeomen of the Guard after their 20-minute vigil. Both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York wore naval uniform, while the Earl of Wessex and Viscount Linley wore black morning dress; the Earl of Wessex served in the Royal Marines, but chose to leave before completing basic training, while Lord Linley has never served in the forces. Present during the Changing of the Guard were the Prince of Wales' two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.[4]

Queen Elizabeth II[edit]

The Duke of York, standing guard during the Vigil of the Princes, 16 September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II had four children: King Charles III; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Forfar, as well as four grandsons and four granddaughters. The official plan for the Queen's funeral, Operation London Bridge, called for the Queen's children to stand vigil over their mother's coffin, as well as for the grandsons and granddaughters to do the same in another ceremony and separate time.[5][6] During the return of the Queen's coffin to London from Scotland, a 24-hour "lying-at-rest" was undertaken at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, during which a permanent guard was provided by the Royal Company of Archers, The King's Bodyguard for Scotland. At 19:40 BST on 12 September 2022, the detachment of four members of the Royal Company were joined by the King, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex and Forfar, who stood vigil over the coffin for ten minutes.[7][8][a] Anne, Princess Royal, made history as the first woman to participate in the ceremony.[9][10]

As part of the late Queen's lying-in-state in London, at 19:30 BST on 16 September 2022, her four children stood vigil for the second time.[b][13] All were in military uniform, with the King and the Duke of York both wearing ceremonial day dress of the Royal Navy, the Princess Royal wearing the full dress uniform of the Blues and Royals, of which she is the Colonel of the Regiment, and the Earl of Wessex and Forfar in the No.1 dress uniform of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, the Army Reserve regiment of which he is Royal Honorary Colonel.

The following day, her eight grandchildren, William, Prince of Wales; Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex; Peter Phillips; Zara Tindall; Princess Beatrice; Princess Eugenie; Lady Louise Windsor; and Viscount Severn, stood vigil over their grandmother's coffin.[14][c] At the King's request both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex were in uniform, with both wearing the No.1 dress of the Blues and Royals while Peter Phillips and Viscount Severn each wore black morning dress with medals and the women wore dark formal dresses.[15][16]

Unlike the vigil that occurred in 2002, the royal family did not relieve any of the guards standing at attention at the Queen's coffin. At each vigil, the royal family took sides of the coffin, while the guards on duty remained in place at the corners. Each vigil lasted 15 minutes or less, while the Changing of the Guard occurred every twenty minutes. Additionally, members of the royal family stood one step above the guards.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also present were the spouses of the Queen's children, the Queen Consort, the Countess of Wessex and Forfar, and Sir Timothy Laurence, as well as the Queen's first cousin, the Duke of Gloucester.[8]
  2. ^ Also present were the spouses of the Queen's children, the Queen Consort, the Countess of Wessex and Forfar, and Sir Timothy Laurence, as well as six of the Queen's grandchildren and their spouses, four of her great-grandchildren, and several of her cousins.[11][12]
  3. ^ Also present were the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Forfar.[15]


  1. ^ "Frank Ernest Beresford (1881-1967) - The Princes Vigil - 12.15 am January 28th, 1936". Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  2. ^ Frank Beresford: Derby artist painted royalty Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine –
  3. ^ "Grandsons hold vigil as public files past". The Guardian. 9 April 2002. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Charles returns for second tribute". BBC News. 9 April 2002. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  5. ^ Knight, Sam (17 March 2017). "'London Bridge is down': the secret plan for the days after the Queen's death". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Vigil of the Princes that will see Queen's family stand guard at coffin explained". The Independent. 12 September 2022. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  7. ^ "Queen's children perform Vigil of the Princes". BBC News. 12 September 2022. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  8. ^ a b Drummond, Michael (13 September 2022). "Andrew, Edward and Anne join the King in vigil at Queen's coffin". Sky News. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  9. ^ "Princess Anne Made History as First Woman to Participate in the Vigil of the Princes". Town & Country. 14 September 2022. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  10. ^ Hollowood, Kate (14 September 2022). "How Princess Anne made history this week at the Vigil of the Princes". Marie Claire. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  11. ^ Therrien, Alex (16 September 2022). "Royals hold sombre watch over Queen's coffin". BBC News. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  12. ^ Moore, Matthew (16 September 2022). "The Queen's children stand guard over her coffin in emotional moment". Hello!. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  13. ^ "Queen's funeral details revealed as monarch to be buried with Prince Philip". Sky News. 15 September 2022. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  14. ^ Bowden, George; Faulker, Doug. "Queen Elizabeth II's grandchildren to observe lying-in-state vigil". BBC. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  15. ^ a b Cursino, Malu; Gregory, James (17 September 2022). "William and Harry lead historic coffin vigil". BBC News. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  16. ^ "Queen's grandchildren to stand vigil beside coffin on Saturday". The Guardian. PA Media. 16 September 2022. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  17. ^ Kindelan, Katie (17 September 2022). "Princes William, Harry lead grandchildren in vigil at Queen Elizabeth II's coffin". ABC News. Retrieved 20 September 2022.

External links[edit]

For Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
For Queen Elizabeth II