A joyous unseen portrait of the Queen has been released on the eve of her funeral as King Charles issued a heartfelt message of thanks to the nation. The late monarch looks radiant as she beams in the photo shared by Buckingham Palace ahead of the state funeral on Monday as the nation prepares to say a final goodbye.
The picture was taken at Windsor Castle in May ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
In a message, also shared on Sunday night, Charles thanked members of the public who have been “such a support and comfort” to the Royal Family in their grief for the late Queen.
He said that he and the Queen Consort have been “so deeply touched” by messages they have received from across the UK and around the world.
The King, who has carried out a UK tour with Camilla following his mother’s death, added that they have been “moved beyond measure” by well-wishers who have turned out to pay their respects.
Charles said: “Over the last ten days, my wife and I have been so deeply touched by the many messages of condolence and support we have received from this country and across the world.
“In London, Edinburgh, Hillsborough and Cardiff we were moved beyond measure by everyone who took the trouble to come and pay their respects to the lifelong service of my dear mother, the late Queen.
“As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my family and myself in this time of grief.”
The Queen wears a light blue dress in the new portrait complete with diamond clip brooches, which were an 18th birthday present from her father George VI in 1944.
She also wears her favourite three-strand pearl necklace and pearl earrings.
The image was taken by photographer Ranald Mackechnie, who also snapped the Platinum Jubilee portrait of the Queen released to mark the start of festivities for her historic 70-year reign in June.
It comes ahead of the funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday on what will be a day of pageantry, military processions and solemnity.
It will be a national bank holiday to allow as many people as possible to say a final farewell to the beloved royal matriarch.
Two thousand people including foreign royals, world leaders, presidents and prime ministers will be in the congregation at Westminster Abbey.
Prince George, nine, and Princess Charlotte, seven, will join their parents Prince William and Kate to remember their great-grandmother. Four-year-old Prince Louis, who won the hearts of the nation with his cheeky antics during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, will not attend.
The lying in state at Westminster Hall is due to end at 6.30am on Monday ahead of the funeral.
Members of the public have flocked to the capital from all over the country to queue for up to 24 hours to pay their respects to the late monarch.
The coffin will be taken in a procession led by Charles from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey for the state funeral at 11am on Monday.
Before the service, the tenor bell will be tolled every minute for 96 minutes, marking the years of the Queen’s life.
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, will say in The Bidding: “Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the nation, from the Commonwealth, and from the nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service.”
He will speak of the Queen’s “unswerving commitment to a high calling over so many years” as monarch and Head of the Commonwealth.
The Dean will say: “With affection we recall her love for her family and her commitment to the causes she held dear.”
The service will be televised, and a national two minutes’ silence will follow the Last Post being sounded at 11.55am.
The Reveille, the national anthem and a lament, played by the Queen’s Piper, will bring the service to an end at approximately noon.
The coffin will then be taken in procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch and then travel to Windsor.
Once there, the hearse will travel in procession to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle via the Long Walk, after which a televised committal service will take place.
Later in the evening, there will be a private interment service with members of the Royal Family.
The Queen’s final resting place will be the King George VI memorial chapel, an annex to the main chapel – where her mother and father were buried, along with the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.
Her beloved husband Prince Philip’s coffin will move from the Royal Vault to the memorial chapel to join his wife.
It come after Charles hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace on Sunday evening for presidents, prime ministers and royalty from across the globe.
US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were among world leaders at the glittering event alongside Prime Minister Liz Truss, who had an audience with the King earlier on Sunday.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain, King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia of Sweden, and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark were represented European royal families.
Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, who earlier met the Princess of Wales for an audience at Buckingham Palace, also attended.
Prince William, Kate, Prince Edward, Sophie Wessex, Princess Anne, her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were among royals who mingled with guests along with Charles and Camilla.
Meanwhile, the nation fell silent for one minute at 8pm to remember the late Queen, the only monarch most Britons have ever known.