On Saturday, 14-year-old James, son of Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, took part in a 15-minute silent family vigil outside the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall. The youngest grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, Viscount Severn, joined his cousins to pay tribute to the late monarch, reports the Daily Mail.
The Queen’s other seven grandchildren, including James’ sister Lady Louise, 18, and cousins Prince William, 40, Prince Harry, 38, Peter Phillips, 44, Zara Tindall, 41 years, Princess Beatrice, 34, and Princess Eugenie, 32, attended the vigil.
The teenager appeared solemn as he stood guard next to his grandmother’s coffin with his head bowed. Her parents Edward and Sophie were also present and watched their two children stand guard from a viewing platform.
Just like his male cousins, James wore the commemorative medals given to them by the Queen. He pinned his 2012 Diamond Jubilee and 2022 Platinum Jubilee medals to the front of his black suit.
The family vigil was attended by members of the public, who had lined up for 16 hours to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth, who died aged 96 on September 8.
It was a rare public appearance for James, who mostly keeps himself out of the limelight. Discussing her decision to attend the vigil with her cousins, a royal source told People magazine that “the grandchildren, at the king’s invitation, are very eager to pay their respects“.
Aside from attending major royal events with their parents, James and Louise lead relatively private lives. Edward and Sophie refused to give their children the titles of prince and princess, although they could choose to use those titles after they turned 18.
According to a 1917 decree issued by King George V, the children and grandchildren of a reigning sovereign are automatically entitled to the titles of Prince or Princess and HRH (His/Her Royal Highness).
The Countess of Wessex explained her and Edward’s decision not to give titles to their children in a 2020 interview with The Times of London.
“We try to raise them understanding that it is very likely that they will have to work for a living“, she said. “That’s why we made the decision not to use titles of nobility. They have them and can decide to use them from the age of 18, but I think that’s very unlikely.”
At 14, James is close to the age Prince William and Prince Harry were when they walked behind the coffin of their mother, Princess Diana, at her funeral on September 6, 1997. At the time , William was 15 and Harry was 12.
In a BBC documentary from 2017, William described his participation in the funeral procession between Kensington Palace and Westminster Abbey as “one of the hardest things i’ve ever done, this walk.“