The Queen

Queen's death: What next for the military?

Thousands of people will be involved in the preparations for Her Majesty the Queen's funeral over the next week-and-a-half.

That will include military guards, the clergy and the Government, and staff at Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace who will be ensuring the households continue to run smoothly during this traumatic time for the Royal Family.

Following the death of the Queen, Buckingham Palace will be Monarchy HQ amid the transition to kingship and the funeral preparations.

After the death of the Queen Mother in 2002, the military was drafted in to help, and the palace cinema was turned into an operations centre.

Paying respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022

The Queen's relationship with the Armed Forces was a centrepiece of her reign – a special relationship forged in the dark days of the Second World War, and then, as monarch, front and centre of her duties as Commander-in-Chief.

For 70 years she watched over Britain's three services and all those who served, always honoured to meet them as much as they were honoured to meet their Queen.

The military will be required to practise their ceremonial roles and ensure any funeral duties are executed perfectly in pristine uniforms for events such as the lying in state, while the horses will have to be groomed and prepared.

The Household Cavalry, who are on their summer break, will return their horses to London in time for the events.

Members of the Armed Forces will be expected to don black armbands, worn on the left arm.

There will also be changes to military hardware – medals, such as operational ones and long service commendations featuring the Queen's effigy, will need to be altered.

Here is how the Armed Forces will be involved over the next 10 days.

WATCH: Queen Elizabeth II: The Armed Forces' Commander-in-Chief remembered.

Friday 9 September

Gun salutes – one round for every year of the Queen's life – have been fired in Hyde Park and at other stations.

A procession of 71 horses, 36 pulling First World War-era 13-pounder field guns cantered into Hyde Park in central London for the event.

Police officers cleared the pathways as the military entourage rode through the south-eastern corner of the park.

Sunday 11 September

The Queen's coffin is expected to be taken by road to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

Monday 12 September

A procession is expected along Royal Mile to St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. Service and the Vigil of the Princes by members of the Royal Family.

The public may get the chance to file past the Queen's coffin at a mini lying in state in St Giles'.

Tuesday 13 September

As part of Operation Overstudy – the transfer of the Queen's coffin by plane – the coffin will be flown to London by the RAF on a military aircraft, ahead of preparation for a lying in state.

WATCH: The Queen's speech marking the Royal Air Force's 75th anniversary in 1993.

Wednesday 14 September

The Queen's lying in state is expected to begin in Westminster Hall – codenamed Operation Marquee – following a ceremonial procession through London. It will last four full days.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct a short service following the coffin's arrival.

Hundreds of thousands of people will file past the coffin on its catafalque and pay their respects, just as they did for the Queen Mother's lying in state in 2002.

In the days leading up to the funeral, members of the public will file slowly past to pay their respects in sombre silence.

For a Royal lying in state, the coffin is draped in a Royal flag, usually a personal standard, and rests on a catafalque – a raised platform covered with a purple cloth, flanked by a military guard around the clock.

Each corner of the platform is watched 24 hours a day by units from the Sovereign's Bodyguard, Foot Guards or the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

WATCH: Public pay tribute to Queen at Holyrood Palace.

Monday 19 September

The Queen's state funeral is expected to take place at Westminster Abbey in central London.

Plans include a military procession through London as the Queen's coffin is taken to and from Westminster Abbey, while, in Windsor, the coffin is expected to be driven through the town to St George's Chapel.

The original plans are for the Queen's coffin to process on a gun carriage to the Abbey, pulled by naval ratings – sailors – using ropes rather than horses.

Senior members of the family are expected to poignantly follow behind – just as they did for the ceremonial funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Military personnel will also line the streets.


Operations London Bridge and Unicorn

The plans for the aftermath of the Queen's death are codenamed London Bridge and have long been planned in consultation with the Government.

They also incorporate Operation Unicorn, the contingency plans for the death of the Queen in Scotland.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the Royal Household to rapidly bring together an additional programme in case the monarch died during the crisis, just like the Duke of Edinburgh.

A "London minus" version of the London Bridge arrangements was ready to use, if necessary, with all the original elements but the involvement of fewer people.

Restrictions meant all military processions through London and Windsor were off the table.

Type of funeral

Ceremonial Royal funerals, as opposed to state funerals, are held for members of the Royal Family who hold high military rank, for the consort of the sovereign and the heir to the throne.

The Duke of Edinburgh was given a ceremonial Royal funeral in 2021, as was the Queen Mother in 2002.

Diana, Princess of Wales, was also given a form of ceremonial Royal funeral in 1997, despite no longer being an HRH.

Baroness Thatcher's funeral in April 2013 was a ceremonial funeral with full military honours, with her coffin taken in procession to St Paul's Cathedral on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses.




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