King Charles and Prince William made a surprise visit this lunchtime to greet queue goers waiting to see the Queen lying-in-state.
After queuing through the night for mere minutes in Westminster Hall, crowds nearing Lambeth Bridge were blinking through bleary eyes, scarcely believing that the King and the Prince of Wales had come to shake their hands.
King Charles and his eldest son William arrived together and spent more than half an hour conversing with a stretch of the queue that were simply trying to stay awake long enough to complete the final stretch over Lambeth Bridge and into see the Queen’s coffin.
Instead, they were lifted into a state of delirium as they were thrust into touching distance of the King and heir apparent, to which the crowd burst into a rapturous chorus – “three cheers for the King – hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!” – as well as calls of “God save the King!”
With a beaming smile and wellwishers jostling for position, the King was met with a familiar face on his walk about – Paddington Bear.
“We are from Peru, we come from Peru,” the women holding the stuffed toy shouted. “We come from Peru! It is so nice to see you.”
Tapping Paddington on his nose, the King replied: “This is the bear – has he got the marmalade?”
“For later,” the women replied, echoing lines from the Platinum Jubilee sketch so many will remember with the Queen hosting Paddington for tea in Buckingham Palace.
The queue for her lying-in-state has spanned nearly 10 miles along the south side of the Thames, and the Prince of Wales was overcome by the sheer number of people that had made their way to the capital to pay their respects to his grandmother.
“She would never have believed all this,” he commented to the crowds, referencing the Queen. “It seems to be uniting everyone and bringing everyone together.”
One woman was quick to tell Prince William: “I’m on 30 hours no sleep,” to which he responded, “30 hours? You look very good on 30 hours.”
The King has returned to Buckingham Palace to host a lunch with Commonwealth Governors General while William will join his brother Harry – both in uniform – to stand head and foot in vigil at their grandmother’s coffin this evening.
They will be joined by the Queen’s six other grandchildren, at the King’s request.