King Charles III was visibly tearful as the Royal Family put on an uncharacteristic display of emotion today after a bruising 10 days of mourning.
Almost 70 years after a young Charles watched the Coronation only yards from where he was now standing, none of the world leaders who gathered to mourn the Queen could fathom the King’s deepest emotions at that solemn moment.
It marked not only the loss of one of Britain’s greatest monarchs and the passing of the Crown from one sovereign to the next, but also the moment that a son said a very personal final goodbye to his mother.
Stoically, Charles moved his hand from the golden hilt of his ceremonial sword only momentarily to dab the end of his nose as the Queen’s Piper played “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep”. Princess Anne looked at him with concern. The Queen Consort touched her black veil.
A body language expert, Sonia Bedlom, later said the King was “incredibly composed”.
The monarch sat at the head of the family, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex behind him in the second row.
A few seats to the left of the King, Prince Edward could be seen reaching into the left pocket of the trousers of his uniform to pull out a white handkerchief to wipe tears from his eyes as Baroness Scotland read the first lesson.
The Countess of Wessex looked at him and could then be seen dabbing her own eyes. The Duke of York looked down at the order of service in a pair of glasses. Earlier, he had held back tears as the family marched behind the Queen’s coffin through Parliament Square.
Across the aisle, the Prince of Wales stood and sat throughout the service with his son George, at one point helping the younger prince find the right place in the order of service.
The Princess of Wales could be seen listening carefully to Princess Charlotte, who looked around from beneath the brim of her hat while mourners sang “The Lord Is My Shepherd”. At one point, Prince George looked up to admire the abbey’s ceiling before rubbing tired eyes as he sat next to his dad.
As the service came to an end, the Princess of Wales put a comforting hand on Charlotte’s shoulder as they filed out of the abbey into waiting cars.
Outside, the Duchess of Sussex was seen wiping a tear from her cheek.
Later, as the Queen’s coffin was placed into the hearse at the Wellington memorial, another wave of emotion overcame members the Royal Family. Princess Charlotte was seen sobbing.
As the National Anthem rang out and the hearse set off for Windsor, the King gave a long salute. As he looked around, his shoulders finally rounded, only briefly, with the huge weight of an emotional day.