The Queen’s only daughter, 72, was the only female member of the royal family to walk behind the late monarch’s coffin, which was draped in the Royal Standard and topped with the Imperial State Crown, the Sovereign’s Sceptre and the Sovereign’s Orb, plus a wreath of meaningful flowers and a note from King Charles III.
The King was solemn as he walked behind the coffin with Princess Anne and their other siblings, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, for a procession from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey before the Queen’s state funeral in London.
Following the service, the coffin left the historic building to make its way through London to Wellington Arch in the second of three processions for the Queen.
Upon reaching Wellington Arch, the coffin was transferred to the State Hearse to travel to Windsor. As the hearse departed Wellington Arch, the parade gave a royal salute and “God Save the King” was played.
The King and other members of the royal family departed for Windsor, where another procession was made to St. George’s Chapel within Windsor Castle for the committal service.
Anne has had a visible role in all of her mother’s funeral events, from following the coffin for the six-hour trip from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh Sunday to walking with her brothers behind the casket as it moved from the palace to St. Giles’ on Sept. 12.
The four siblings also came together to conduct the Vigil of the Princes as their mother’s coffin laid in state at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Scotland.
The rare ritual has been performed only twice before in British history, first for the funerary processions for the Queen’s grandfather, King George V, in 1936, and again during the Queen Mother’s funeral events in 2002, according to The Independent.
It marked the second time that Charles, 73, Andrew, 62, and Edward, 58, have ceremoniously protected a casket during the Queen’s lying-in-state. The brothers and their cousin David Armstrong Jones, Princess Margaret‘s son, guarded the Queen Mother’s coffin for the same rite the day before her funeral 20 years ago.
But Anne’s participation in the Vigil of the Princes was significant, as she became the first female royal to join the symbolic watch.
“I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest Mother’s life,” Anne said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace on Tuesday. “It has been an honour and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys.”
“Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting,” she added. “I offer my thanks to each and every one who share our sense of loss.”
Following the state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London, where 2,000 dignitaries from around the world gathered to pay respects to the late monarch on Monday morning, a second ceremony was held at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle that afternoon.
More than 800 people attended the Queen’s committal service, with the event having a more intimate feel than the state funeral.
Later in the evening, the late monarch will be buried in a private ceremony. She will be buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel with husband Prince Philip, father King George VI, mother Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and sister Princess Margaret.