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Sombre royals follow Queen’s coffin towed by sailors to Westminster Abbey

The Queen’s coffin was carried on the State Gun Carriage which was towed by Royal Navy sailors (Peter Byrne/PA)
The Queen’s coffin was carried on the State Gun Carriage which was towed by Royal Navy sailors (Peter Byrne/PA)

As her children and some grandchildren stood in formation behind the gun carriage that would carry the Queen to her funeral, only boots tapping in unison on the cobbles and briefly shouted military orders broke a respectful silence outside Westminster Hall.

Twelve days after the nation’s longest-reigning monarch died, the last steps of her journey towards her final resting place began in New Palace Yard with a procession to Westminster Abbey.

Crowds which gathered close to Parliament Square early on Monday had clapped and cheered the arrival of the King, who was driven to Westminster Hall just after 10.30am to escort his mother’s coffin to the funeral.

The King followed the Queen's coffin alongside his siblings and son (Peter Byrne/PA)
The King followed the Queen’s coffin alongside his siblings and sons (Peter Byrne/PA)

But just minutes later, as the new monarch stood in line with his siblings the Princess Royal, Duke of York and Earl of Wessex, behind the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy, there was silence.

The crowd, momentarily still and with phones held up to capture the historic moment, was around 10-people thick in places, as tens of thousands thronged the streets to say goodbye to the monarch.

Cousins the Prince of Wales, Duke of Sussex and Peter Phillips all followed behind the coffin, for the short walk to the Abbey.

State gun carriage
(PA Graphics)

While the King and most other royals wore military uniform, Andrew and Harry sported suits in line with the fact neither are any longer working royals.

The Queen’s closest family all looked sombre as they followed the 123-year-old carriage ahead of the state funeral.

The procession included Anne’s husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Queen’s cousin the Duke of Gloucester, and her nephew the Earl of Snowdon.

Anne, Andrew and Edward had arrived first to New Palace Yard in two vehicles.

The State Gun Carriage left Westminster Hall carrying the Queen's coffin, which had been lying-in-state (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
The State Gun Carriage left Westminster Hall carrying the Queen’s coffin, which had been lying in state (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

They were followed, moments later, by Charles who was accompanied in the same car by his son and heir-to-the-throne, William.

Harry and Peter Phillips emerged from a car directly behind them – all to accompany the Queen’s coffin to a funeral which drew more than 2,000 world leaders, national figures from UK life, and leading individuals to the Abbey.

Around 140 sailors were involved in either pulling the gun carriage or marching behind to act as a brake – in a tradition dating back to the funeral of Queen Victoria.

As the procession moved off, the sounds of a massed Pipes and Drums of Scottish and Irish Regiments, the Brigade of Gurkhas, and the Royal Air Force numbering 200 musicians filled the air.

The carriage was flanked by the Bearer Party, pall bearers and detachments of the King’s Body Guards of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, the Yeomen of the Guard and the Royal Company of Archers.

Together with the sailors’ uniforms, the procession was fittingly red white and blue in colour.

Along with the royal family, the coffin – which was draped with the Royal Standard and had the Imperial State Crown and Regalia as well as a wreath of flowers laid upon it – was followed by members of Charles’ household including his private secretary and equerry.

The short procession from Westminster Hall to the Abbey, to the sound of bagpipes and with Big Ben tolling, took around eight minutes.