Navy

Sailor to guard Queen at funeral – just as his grandfather did at coronation

The Queen's coronation "was a defining part of his life, not just his career", Able Seaman Murray Kerr said about his grandfather.

Seventy years after his grandfather guarded the Queen at her coronation, a Royal Navy sailor will follow in his footsteps at Her Majesty's funeral.

Able Seaman Murray Kerr from Ayr will be part of the Royal Navy ceremonial guard that will line the streets of London as Her Majesty is laid to rest on Monday.

More than 320 Armed Forces personnel played a pivotal role in the coffin procession of the Queen on Thursday, moving her coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where she is now lying in state.

"Defining part of his life, not just his career"

As soon as Able Seaman Murray was activated for duty at the funeral, he was on the phone to his 92-year-old grandfather, John Kerr, a former Scots Guard who was a street liner on The Mall for the 1953 coronation.

"My grandad has always spoken with pride about his time in the Guards, but the one thing, whenever I mention anything ceremonial, was about being at the Queen's coronation. That was a defining part of his life, not just his career," Murray said.

"It is 'do the best you can. Look impeccable. Go out and perform and show up and show out'. That was it. My grandad said, 'do this and you'll remember it for the rest of your life'.

"He has always been a role model for me. He carried everything he learned in the Guards into his civilian life. He still polishes his shoes, irons all of his clothes. Everything is neat. Everything is pressed.

"A lot of that discipline has fallen onto my father and myself.

"My father joined the fire service. There's a place for everything and everything is in its place. These two great services that moulded them, has moulded me.

"All these things have come down to me being on parade on Monday for the Queen's funeral, with the aim of being the smartest and best group that lines the streets.

"That's what I want for my team. That's what all of us want," he added.

Royal Navy sailors prepare for the Queen's funeral 13092022 CREDIT Royal Navy MOD
Royal Navy sailors preparing for the Queen's funeral (Picture: Royal Navy/ MOD).

"We want to be there for Her Majesty"

Sailors will have the honour of pulling the gun carriage – on which Her Majesty's coffin will be taken 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. 

It is a duty the Royal Navy has performed since the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901.

Murray, a trainee seaman specialist in the Royal Navy based at HMS Collingwood, will join more than 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines playing a pivotal role in the funeral.

Able Seaman Murray said: "We want to be there for Her Majesty. We're not doing this for anyone else. We are not doing this for us or our families.

"I would even go as far as to say that I'm not doing this for the Navy, I'm not doing this just because the Navy's asked me to.

Watch: Sailors and Royal Marines rehearse their role in the funeral.

He went on: "I think if I hadn't been activated, I would have found a way to be there for Her Majesty. That's the mentality of all of us."

Murray will be a street liner on the route of the procession through the capital.

"It's huge for me. To be here and doing what we're doing for someone that I've respected and admired my entire life," he said.

"As soon as you march out the gates as part of your half company, all that matters is that you're there and you do the best that you can.

"The history books will say the 'Royal Navy lined the streets as the Queen was taken into Westminster Abbey for her funeral'."