Vigil of the Princes

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The Vigil of the Princes is the unofficial name given to two occasions when male 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 funeral or ceremonial funeral.

King George V[edit]

Edward VIII; Prince Albert, Duke of York; Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester; and Prince George, Duke of Kent, took guard on 27 January 1936 at the lying-in-state of their father, George V. The vigil took place after Westminster Hall was closed to the public for the evening.

No known photographic record of this event exists, though a painting was made of it after the King's funeral. The oil painting was produced by Frank Beresford as the official painting of the King's lying-in-state, and was exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1936 at Burlington House. The painting, named "The Princes' Vigil: 12.15am, January 28, 1936", was subsequently purchased by Queen Mary to give to her son Edward VIII on his birthday.[1] 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 unseen 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.[2]

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother[edit]

Charles, Prince of Wales; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex; and David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley, took guard at 16:40 UTC on 8 April 2002 at the lying-in-state of their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (widow of King George VI; daughter-in-law of King George V).[3] The four relieved the guard of the Royal Company of Archers, and were themselves relieved by the Yeomen of the Guard after their twenty-minute vigil. Both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York wore naval uniform, while the Earl of Wessex and Lord Linley wore 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]

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