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Rosaleen Fenton & Sonia Sharma

Earl of Wessex Prince Edward explains why he wasn't shaking hands with mourners during walkabout

Prince Edward and his wife Sophie were greeted with cheers as they came to meet mourners outside Buckingham Palace - and the Earl of Wessex explained he was trying not to shake hands in order to meet more people.

While the Countess of Wessex shook hands with people and accepted several bunches of flowers, the Queen’s youngest son could be heard explaining to a well-wisher that he was simply trying to ensure he didn't fall behind as he attempted to speak to as many people as possible. As he quizzed the crowd on where they they had travelled from, he politely waved as he walked past the mourners on Saturday afternoon.

He later shook a mourners hand, before explaining: "I've been trying to avoid it, only if I do it once, then I get everybody doing it.' The Queen’s youngest son asked many of the crowd members if they were planning to make their way to Green Park to lay flowers, where thousands of bunches had been left.

Read More: King Charles and Prince William stun queueing mourners with unexpected walkabout

Meanwhile, his wife was given bouquets and a stuffed toy as she shook hands with those gathered, reports The Mirror. The Earl of Wessex told mourners the Queen would "appreciate” the number of people paying their respects. Well-wishers could be heard telling Edward and Sophie "sorry for your loss” outside Buckingham Palace.

Prince Edward told people in the crowd: "I know that my mother would really appreciate this fantastic support."

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, meets well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace (Getty Images)

Fans praised his decision to not shake hands on social media, with one writing: "Edward is wise. Saw Charles shake hands this morning & thought he’s exhausted & his resistance is low. The public contact is nice, but I hope he’s healthy for the funeral."

Another commented: "He's chosen to meet and chat with people, good for him. He's clearly not comfortable with shaking hands, it's not compulsory." A third added: "Geez- Edward is out there greeting people, being friendly and thanking them for being there. Why isn’t that enough? Some people just don’t like being touched. Cut the man some slack- he and his family have been going non stop since the Queen died."

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