The Queen

Hundreds of sailors and marines rehearse for Her Majesty the Queen's state funeral

A look at the history and honour behind pulling Her Majesty's coffin to its final resting place.

Members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines have rehearsed their role in the funeral of Her Majesty the Queen at HMS Collingwood in Hampshire.

Sailors will have the honour of pulling the gun carriage on which Her Majesty's coffin will be borne into Westminster Abbey for the funeral service. 

The state funeral gun carriage of the Royal Navy will be pulled by 98 sailors, known as the Sovereign's Guard, with 40 sailors marching behind. 

The tradition of pulling the gun carriage by sailors dates back to 1901. It was the result of a near catastrophe. 

The gun carriage which will carry the Queen's coffin was first used at the state funeral of Queen Victoria. On the day of the funeral, the procession began with the carriage being drawn by horses. 

Lieutenant Commander Paul Barker, the state gun carriage custodian, said: "The horses got very agitated. So when they loaded Queen Victoria's coffin onto the catafalque, a few of the horses tried to rear up and turn the gun carriage over.

"So, Prince Louis of Battenburg at that time ordered the Navy guard of honour to ground rifles, take up dragged ropes and take the Queen on her final journey." 

The emergency measure has now become an honoured tradition. 

The Queen's funeral will be the seventh time that the gun carriage has been used and pulled by Navy personnel. 

The procession is just one area of involvement for the Royal Navy. Many sailors will be lining the funeral route, playing a pivotal role as the Queen is laid to rest. 

Cover image: Royal Navy sailors prepare for the Queen's funeral (Picture: Royal Navy/ MOD).