Prince Edward explains why he doesn’t shake hands with crowds

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Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie the Countess of Wessex greeting mourners  (Getty Images)
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie the Countess of Wessex greeting mourners (Getty Images)

Prince Edward has explained why he does not shake hands with mourners lining the streets ahead of the Queen’s funeral.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex were met with cheers after they surprised crowds of mourners outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday afternoon by stepping out to greet them.

The Queen’s youngest son could be seen speaking to members of the public, singling out individual mourners waiting in the crowd to ask where they had travelled from.

Many reached out to shake his hand, but Prince Edward appeared to prefer non-physical contact, such as waving.

Explaining to one mourner, he said: “I’d love to shake hands, but have you seen how many people there are here? They’d [my hands would] fall off!”

Another member of the crowd claimed he told them: “I’ve been trying to avoid it only because if I do it once, I have to shake everybody’s hand”.

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex meets wellwishers outside Buckingham Palace (Getty Images)
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex meets wellwishers outside Buckingham Palace (Getty Images)

The Earl of Wessex moved through the mourners, greeting as many people as possible.

Meanwhile, his wife Sophie was a few steps behind, admiring homemade tributes to the Queen and thanking those wishing to pay their respects. Collecting numerous bouquets and stuffed animals, at one point the Countess of Wessex cradled a young child.

The couple repeatedly thanked members of the public for turning out and Prince Edward said he believed his mother would “appreciate this fantastic support”.

In an official statement released on Friday, the Earl and Countess of Wessex wrote: “We have been overwhelmed by the tide of emotion that has engulfed us and the sheer number of people who have gone out of their way to express their own love, admiration and respect to such a very special and unique person who was always there for us.

“And now, we are there for her, united in grief. Thank you for your support, you have no idea how much it means.”