A man has been arrested “following a disturbance” in Westminster Hall, where the Queen is lying in state, after reports of someone running up the steps to the catafalque and touching the coffin.
The Metropolitan police were said to have rushed to detain the man just before 10pm on Friday evening, the second full day that mourners have been able to pay their respects to the former monarch, just hours after senior royals held a vigil.
A source told the Guardian that the man darted out of the line passing the catafalque and managed to climb the steps and touch the coffin, before they were swiftly detained – an account that was not denied by either the Met or House of Commons.
A statement from Scotland Yard said: “Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command detained a man in Westminster Hall following a disturbance.”
It added the man was “arrested for an offence under the Public Order Act and is currently in custody”.
The disturbance is believed to have taken place just before 10pm, when many mourners would have been queueing for over 12 hours. Broadcasters showing the procession of mourners cut away from the scene and instead showed the view from outside parliament.
Just hours before, the King, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward stood around the Queen’s coffin, in what was known as the vigil of the princes. A similar vigil is expected to be held on Saturday night by the Queen’s grandchildren.
It comes after a man appeared at Westminster magistrates court following allegations that two women were sexually assaulted while they were waiting in the queue to see the Queen lying in state.
A huge amount of planning for security arrangements has gone into the preparations for the lying in state, given the heightened risk of terrorist attacks due to the large crowds who have gathered in central London.