Here's How Princess Anne Made History At The Queen's Vigil

A rare royal tradition was performed Monday, September 12, following the heartbreaking death of Queen Elizabeth II.

King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward all silently followed their mother's casket through the streets of Edinburgh as it traveled by hearse from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St. Giles Cathedral, the Associated Press reports. Once inside the church, the Associated Press adds that the queen's coffin was placed "on a wooden stand and topped with the golden Crown of Scotland" where it will remain until Tuesday, September 13, giving the public a chance to visit and pay their respects.


As the public began to file past the coffin, the queen's children stood guard on the four sides of her coffin. Video shows they stood with their backs to the coffin and had their heads bowed, King Charles III standing at the head, dressed in a kilt.

According to the Independent, this is a tradition known as the "Vigil of the Princes," first held in 1936 following the passing of King Edward VIII. The only other time the vigil has been observed was in 2002, when King Charles III — then, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales — stood with Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and David Armstrong-Jones, the ex-husband of Princess Margaret, for the Queen Mother.

The vigil, which lasts for 15 minutes, has only been performed by men in the past. Princess Anne, dressed in military uniform, is the first woman to perform the "Vigil of the Princes."


Princess Anne has often broken the royal mold

Taking part in the "Vigil of the Princes" is certainly not the first time that Princess Anne, Princess Royal, has broken royal tradition. In fact, she's made a point of rewriting the script during a number of official events, not letting gender define her role nor her titles. For example, when Anne was appointed to the Order of the Garter — a tradition dating back to King Edward III — she insisted on being initiated with the same title as her brothers. Typically, members are either Knights or Ladies of the Garter, but not the Princess Royal. She is, in fact, a knight, and was named to the order by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994, Express notes. 


Titles are not the only distinction that has set Anne apart from the crowd. A talented equestrian, the Princess Royal is an Olympian and represented Great Britain on the competition circuit back in the day. Her love of horses has profoundly impacted her life, and it was a passion that she regularly shared with her late father, Prince Philip

Princess Anne also had an impactful role during Prince Philip's funeral

While Princess Anne made it clear that her gender — nor royal tradition — would stop her from participating in the "Vigil of the Princes," she also made a point of historically participating in the funeral honoring her late father, Prince Philip. As noted by CBS News at the time, Anne was the only woman who walked behind Philip's casket, distinguishing herself among her male royal counterparts. As CBS explained, royal funerals are typically dominated by men, who are typically the only gender to walk behind the casket. But, as Anne demonstrated, some royal traditions are meant to be broken, and she joined the men of her family while adorned with her military honors. 


Of her father, Anne remarked amid his passing, "You know it's going to happen but you are never really ready. My father has been my teacher, my supporter and my critic, but mostly it is his example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate." As she does just that — Anne has been known for her unwavering support of the crown, and holds one of the highest approval ratings of all the royals, a poll from YouGov shows.