A royal guard collapsed in front of a crowd of mourners just after midnight while he was watching over the Queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall in London, United Kingdom. The black-clad guard was standing on the Queen’s coffin podium as he held a ceremonial staff, and he reportedly swayed and stumbled moments before he ultimately collapsed. Reports outline that when he first stumbled, he had resumed formation, but seconds later, he fainted at the foot of the late monarch’s casket at around 1:00 a.m.
The guard next to him seemed to have attempted to reach for him when he was falling face forward towards the floor, but seemingly seeing that it was too late, he resumed his stance. Two nearby officials rushed to help the guard, and another aide from the crowd also went to him.
Meanwhile, BBC’s live stream of the lying-in-state on YouTube was suspended for a brief period while the guard was being checked. Additional reports from ITV Hub state that a stretcher was carried out for the guard, but he stood and quickly returned to his post after being handed back his hat and ceremonial staff. The report continued by saying the guard swayed again and was escorted away by staff. Some minutes later, a different guard claimed the post.
The incident occurred on the first night of the Queen’s Lying in State, a period when everyone may pay their respects to the late monarch. During this period, soldiers dressed in ceremonial attire keep a continuous 24-hour vigil around the Queen’s coffin, and the guards at the four corners of the catafalque must remain motionless. The soldiers rotate every 20 minutes, and the length of time that they must stand still is six hours. Reportedly, it is not uncommon for guards to collapse while on duty, as five soldiers were said to have fainted at the National Thanksgiving Service during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.