Vigil of the Princes

The Vigil of the Princes refers to two occasions when male members of the British Royal Family "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

King 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. (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, 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, was subsequently purchased by George V's widow Queen Mary to give to their 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.

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

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).[2] 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 black morning dress; the Earl of Wessex served in the Royal Marines, but chose to leave before completing basic training, while Lord Linley (now styled Earl of Snowdon) 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.[3]

In the future

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh have four children, Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. They have four grandsons and four granddaughters. The official plans for the Queen's funeral, Operation London Bridge, call for the Queen's children to stand vigil over their mother's coffin, as well for the grandsons and granddaughters to do the same. Should the Duke of Edinburgh lie in state, he may receive the same homage, however he has indicated he does not want the "fuss" of a full state funeral.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Frank Beresford: Derby artist painted royalty Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine –
  2. ^ "Grandsons hold vigil as public files past". The Guardian. 9 April 2002. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  3. ^ "Charles returns for second tribute". BBC News. 9 April 2002. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  4. ^ 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.

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