King Charles unveils a plaque in Westminster Hall to mark his mother’s lying-in-state
- King Charles, 74, visited Parliament to unveil a plaque to his mother the Queen
- The late monarch died in September at Balmoral from old age – she was 96
- Charles unveiled plaque on floor of Westminster Hall where Queen lay in wake
- His Majesty stood for a few moments in quiet reflection after the unveiling
King Charles made a moving return to Westminster Hall today, where he and his family publicly marked the return of his mother’s coffin to London.
His Majesty unveiled a plaque on the floor of the 1,000-year-old building marking where Queen Elizabeth II lay in state, in order for thousands of subjects to pay their respects.
It now sits alongside similar memorials to successive British monarchs since King Edward VII, including the late Queen’s father and grandfather.
It is, however, the first time, that a reigning monarch has has unveiled a tribute to their predecessor.
King Charles looks at the plaque installed in Westminster Hall to mark the Queen’s lying in state there
On a bitterly cold day, the King arrived in the State Bentley, accompanied by his private secretary, Sir Clive Alderton, and the late Queen’s former right-hand man, Sir Edward Young.
He was met with warm cheers as he was greeted by Black Rod, Sarah Clarke, the first woman to hold the position, as well as the Speakers of the House of Commons and House of Lords, Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord McFall of Alcluith.
The King immediately made a beeline for parliamentary staff of the Palace of Westminster who worked during the historic Lying-in-State period including its finance director, cleaning manager, executive chef and a security officer.
‘Did you have to usher them [the queuing public] away in the end?’ he asked. ‘There were more than 200,000 in the end. Remarkable.’
After unveiling the plaque in Westminster Hall, the King (pictured) spent a few moments of quiet contemplation
He also sympathised with those that had come to meet him, saying: ‘You must be frozen stiff.’
At one point there was a ripple of laughter as an elderly peer dropped their walking stick and the king gallantly picked it up and handed it back to her.
He then approached the plaque, was was hidden underneath a princely purple silk covering, and nodded to the four men standing at each corner – Warrant Officer 1 Ben Townley and Colour Sergeant Lee Blackstock, parliamentary workers manager David Eyre and head of maintenance Mike McCann – to solemnly unveil it.
The king stood for a few moment in quiet reflection before applause rang out and he thanked the men, along with briefly greeting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer.
The plaque dedicated to Queen Elizabeth now sits alongside similar memorials to successive British monarchs since King Edward VII
The Lord Speaker, Lord Alcluith, said afterwards that it had been the biggest ‘privilege of my life’ to take part in the parliamentary operation to ensure that members of the public could pay their respects.
‘I was hear the whole time. Lindsay [Hoyle] and I are the key holders to Westminster hall and were here from beginning to end. What an honour. It was one of the most complex organisational tasks and the staff were absolutely fantastic.
‘Having the hall ready for the Queen’s coffin just a day after addressing the king was a Herculean task. The people the king has meet today truly did a heroic job. From the chef who produced 2,000 meals a day for 10 days for the staff and volunteers, to the security teams. Everyone was amazing.
‘There was a lot of gaiety and laughter in the queues as people waited but once they were here there was such solemnity about it. A cathedral element to it. And that affected everybody here. Remember it was a global event with billions of people watching.
His Majesty (pictured) spoke to members of the public after looking at the plaque which marked where the Queen had lay in state
The royal appeared to be smiling as he made his way through Westminster Hall, speaking with members of the public today
‘I don’t think I’ve ever been so privileged in my life.’
Afterwards the King continue to New Palace Yard to unveil a private gift from Parliamentarians to The late Queen to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.
The pair of unique bronze sculptured lamps feature the heraldic beasts of the United Kingdom: the Lion of England, the Unicorn of Scotland, the Dragon of Wales and the Irish Elk of Northern Ireland.
The sculptures also include crowned lanterns – symbolising the guiding light The Queen was to the country throughout her reign – designed by
Beaming: the King (pictured) seemed to be in good spirits during his public appearance in Westminster Hall today
Tim Crawley, a Cambridgeshire-based artist and sculptor.
The king watched as the Speaker and Lord Speaker each unveiled the plinths at the bottom of the lamp which feature the magnificent beasts.
He was then handed a box with a large button on the top which he was invited to press – much to his bemusement – which lit up the base of the lamps.
He laughed as the crowd cheered and turned and said to the designer: ‘You’ve done a brilliant job’.
During his visit to Parliament, the King looked at a statue outside Westminster Hall – a private gift from Parliamentarians to The late Queen to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee
Mr Crawley said afterwards: ‘The king seemed to like them and said what a brilliant job I had done on them, which was nice.’
The lamps were a year in the making, ‘not a long time for a project of this magnitude’, and took inspiration from the gothic ornamental design of Parliament.
He added: ‘Obviously I started the project thinking the Queen would be unveiling it, which was obviously very sad. But apparently she did see the designs and a photographs of the almost finish work [before she died] and liked them very much. ‘
Five lamps erected around the United Kingdom to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond and Golden Jubilees can still be seen and are now listed structures.
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