Unseen pictures show Queen's Beefeaters taking time out between lying-in-state shifts

·3 min read
(Ministry of Defence)
Guards relaxing in between shifts keeping vigil over the Queen's coffin. (Ministry of Defence)

The guards who watched over the Queen's coffin during her lying in state have been photographed resting in between their shifts.

The behind-the-scenes images show the guards relaxing and also getting ready to stand watch over the monarch's coffin.

The lying in state finished at 6.30am on Monday, hours before the Queen's funeral began.

Hundreds of thousands of people queued for hours to walk past the coffin in Westminster Hall to pay tribute to the Queen.

Watch: Queue to Queen's lying in state closes to the public

During the five-day lying in state, the Queen's coffin sat on a catafalque and was guarded at all hours by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, the Household Division or Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London, nicknamed "Beefeaters".

Read more: Queen's funeral - the hour-by-hour schedule as monarch is laid to rest

The Ministry of Defence published four images on Twitter of the guards during their downtime.

It wrote: "The UK Armed Forces are continuing to honour their Commander-in-Chief of 70 years, Her Majesty The Queen, as they stand vigil alongside The King's Body Guard."

In one image, a group of guards sit huddled together in chairs wearing their red trousers. In another, one guard has a well deserved nap while others get ready for their shift.

On Wednesday, the first night of the lying in state, one of the royal guards collapsed to the floor.

He was standing at the foot of the Queen's coffin when he suddenly fell to the floor.

(Ministry of Defence)
One guard, left, has a nap while two others prepare to keep vigil over the Queen's coffin. (Ministry of Defence)
(Ministry of Defence)
Two guards getting ready to keep vigil over the Queen's coffin. (Ministry of Defence)

The guard was holding a ceremonial staff when he appeared to faint, with nearby officials quickly rushing to his aid.

While the soldiers rotate every 20 minutes, the hours of remaining completely still while standing are six-hours in length.

Read more: Mourners describe 'eerie but beautiful' Westminster Hall atmosphere

As well as the guards, other shifts were carried out by members of the Royal Family, including King Charles III, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Two members of prime minister Liz Truss's cabinet also stood vigil.

At 06:02am on the day of her funeral the final members of the public pay their respects at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign's orb and sceptre, lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster, London. Picture date: Monday September 19, 2022.
The Queen's coffin lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall. (PA)

Scottish secretary Alister Jack and defence secretary Ben Wallace stood on Thursday at the raised platform on which the coffin rests.

Both men are members of the Royal Company of Archers, which functions as the sovereign’s bodyguard in Scotland.

The unit also watched over the coffin while it was in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh at the beginning of last week.

Watch: Royal guard collapses as Queen's coffin lies in state