Why The Seat In Front Of King Charles Was Left Empty During The Queen's Windsor Service

Over 2,000 people attended Queen Elizabeth's state funeral at Westminster Abbey, per TIME. After the service, the queen's coffin journeyed 26 miles to Windsor for a smaller, second service. Held at St. George's Chapel, over 800 people attended, including family and staff members of the queen's various residences (via People).

Some royal fans watching this second service were puzzled to see an empty chair in front of King Charles III. According to Express, these viewers surmised that it was a symbolic gesture in honor of the late queen. On the contrary, it is part of standard royal protocol at an event. To ensure that the monarch has a clear line of sight, no one is permitted to sit in front of him or her.

Previously, Queen Elizabeth was observed with an empty seat in front of her in 2018 during both Princess Eugenie's wedding to Jack Brooksbank and Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle. "During Harry and Meghan's wedding some erroneously thought the empty seat was intended as a tribute to Diana," royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told the Independent.

Charles's choice of chair at St. George's Chapel could also be a tribute and gesture of following in his mother's footsteps. According to The Sun, the queen routinely chose the second-row seat at this venue because she didn't think the front row seat was "comfortable." In contrast, Elizabeth did take the front row at Prince William and Princess Catherine's 2011 nuptials. That ceremony was also held at Westminster Abbey.