Prince William, Kate greet well-wishers

·3-min read

Prince William has told well-wishers that walking behind his grandmother's coffin has been challenging and had brought back memories, alluding to the day 25 years earlier when, as a boy, he followed his mother's casket on the way to her funeral.

William, the heir to the throne, walked behind his father King Charles and side by side with his younger brother Prince Harry during Wednesday's solemn procession taking the late Queen Elizabeth from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall.

"The walk yesterday was challenging," William told members of the public who were sympathising with him over his loss while he viewed flowers laid outside the royal Sandringham Estate in eastern England to honour the Queen.

"Brought back a few memories," he could be heard saying in video footage of the exchange on Thursday.

William and Harry, then aged 15 and 12, followed their mother Princess Diana's coffin through central London in the glare of the world's media after she was killed in a car crash in Paris aged 36 in 1997, a defining image of their lives.

The brothers, whose relationship has become strained in recent years, have spoken in the past of the lasting trauma they endured after their mother's death and that walk, during which they maintained a stoical facade despite their grief.

While the circumstances were different this time, the Queen having died peacefully aged 96 at her Scottish home, there were similarities - the emotion, the solemn pageantry and the sense of a momentous event unfolding in front of crowds and cameras.

William and his wife Kate, both 40, stepped out of a dark Range Rover near to the Norwich Gates and took time to read messages on the many tributes.

Thousands of well-wishers gathered behind metal barriers to see the couple, who stayed for almost an hour speaking to people.

William told retired dry cleaner Peggy Butcher: "This sea of flowers is unbelievable."

He also extended his thanks to everyone for going to the Norfolk estate on Thursday.

Butcher, 89, and from March in Cambridgeshire, said afterwards: "He seemed to care about us because we cared about the Queen."

Receptionist Jane Wells, 54, of Long Sutton in Lincolnshire, said: "I said how proud his mother would have been of him, and he said how hard it was yesterday because it brought back memories of his mother's funeral."

Caroline Barwick-Walters, 66, of Neath in Wales, said: "He told us how difficult it was yesterday, how it brought back memories of walking behind his mother's coffin."

She said she told William "thank you for sharing your grief with the nation" and that he replied "she was everybody's grandmother".

Gregory Hill, headteacher of Howard Junior School in King's Lynn, was with a group of children aged seven to nine, and he said that William and Kate noticed a Paddington Bear tribute they had made.

"It's got our same logo on the badge as our school uniform and they both commented about that," he said.

Kate then invited eight-year-old Elizabeth Sulkovska to walk with her to place a corgi teddy and a bouquet of flowers among the tributes.

"Elizabeth was overwhelmed, she cried with joy at being chosen," Hill said.

"It's just a wonderful, amazing opportunity."

He said that the Queen's death has "touched a young generation as well", adding: "The older generation obviously knew the Queen for longer but young children that haven't experienced the Queen for long on the throne still are greatly moved by her passing, and really want to do their best to celebrate her life and legacy and never forget her."

Mental health counsellor Julie Young, 51, from March in Cambridgeshire, said: "We asked about the children and how the children are coping with it all.

"He said he thinks George understands but the other two are not really, don't understand."

with PA