How long are the British guards’ shifts?

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Queen Elizabeth II’s four days of rest got off to a rocky start when one of the Queen’s guards collapsed near her coffin.

The Queen’s body arrived at Westminster Hall on Wednesday, where people had the chance to parade and pay their respects. Unfortunately, just after midnight UK time, a guard, a member of the Royal Company of Archers, collapsed.

Footage was captured live, as other guards and security rushed to help.

He was one of many to stand in formation around Elizabeth’s coffin, but how long must each guard remain on duty?

How long are guard shifts?

Surrounding the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall are three ceremonial units as she lies in state.

During the night in the UK, standing at each corner of the raised platform (catafalque) were members of the Gentlemen at Arms, the Royal Company of Archers and the Yeomen of the Guard.

The Royal Guards stand to protect the Queen on a 24-hour rotation. These are divided into four different six-hour shifts for each soldier, 24 hours a day until Monday.

During these six-hour shifts, the guards change position on the catafalque every 20 minutes.

In this combination image, the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II can be seen in Westminster Hall, London, on the left. Some of the Queen’s Guards, also at Westminster Hall, are pictured on the right. Viewers were alarmed when a guard, a member of the Royal Company of Archers, collapsed during the queen’s laying down.
Jane Barlow/Max Mumby/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images

What happened to the guard who collapsed?

It was during one of the shift exchanges that a member of the Royal Company of Archers collapsed. In the seconds leading up to his fall, he could be seen swinging and even falling off the platform at one point, but he managed to stay upright.

He collapsed at 12.26am UK time and police were seen rushing to his aid. All the other guards stood still to protect the queen’s coffin.

The live feed from inside Westminster Hall was cut and instead showed a wide shot of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Almost eight minutes later, the live stream returned to inside Westminster Hall where the public continued to file past the coffin and members of all three units stood guard.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Archers of Scotland
Queen Elizabeth II walks past members of the Royal Company of Archers as she arrives at Tweedbank station on September 9, 2015 in Tweedbank, Scotland. A member of the Royal Company of Archers collapsed near his coffin in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

People queuing around London to see the Queen lying in state took to social media to comment on how the line came to a halt at this time. People across social media expressed their best wishes for the collapsed guard, but no information has yet been released on his condition.

Newsweek contacted the British Parliament and Buckingham Palace for further comment.

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