Queen’s grandchildren stand in vigil at her coffin
Soldiers with a unique association with Queen Elizabeth II were called back from Iraq to take part in the ceremonial duties following the monarch’s death by carrying her coffin. The Guardsmen are from the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, whose Company Commander was the Queen. Although a senior officer took day-to-day control, the former sovereign’s connection with her men was strong.
The bearer party brought the Queen’s coffin inside Westminster Hall on the first day of the late monarch’s lying in state.
Entrusted with the Queen’s coffin the eight Guardsmen lifted it into place onto the catafalque – a raised platform – while Major Johnny Hathaway-White, Captain of the Queen’s Company helped to lay out the Queen’s Company Colours at its base.
On Saturday, the Guardsmen joined hundreds of other soldiers in early-morning rehearsals in Windsor ahead of the Queen’s funeral that will take place this Monday, September 19.
After a service at Westminster Abbey, the late monarch’s coffin will be driven from London to the Berkshire town in the state hearse.
The hearse will then travel in procession to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle via the Long Walk, which will be lined by members of the armed forces.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, marching bands playing music and Grenadier Guards flanking a hearse were spotted rehearsing ahead of the service.
Mounted police officers walked in front of the procession, followed by members of the Life Guards carrying swords, as well as a pipe band dressed in tartan and members of the Household Cavalry.
Around 30 Grenadier Guards, walking in two single-file lines, marched alongside the hearse.
The soldiers were flown back from Iraq
The Queen’s funeral will take place on Monday
The Grenadier Guards is one of the most senior regiments in the British Army with soldiers recognised by the scarlet tunic and bearskin uniforms they wear on ceremonial duty at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
After the rehearsal, Coldstream Guards and members of the Royal Navy could be seen marching down the High Street in Windsor and towards Victoria barracks.
Lt Col Fred Wells, Commander 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, said: “It’s a huge honour.
“There’s such a range of emotions that I think we’ve all felt over the last week, huge sadness that we’ve lost, in the Coldstream Guards, our Colonel-in-chief, for the armed forces our Commander-in-chief, and for the nation, the Queen.
“But at the same time there’s a real sense of excitement that we’re taking part in something quite special that for all of us will probably be one of the most momentous parades of our careers and probably one of the most momentous days of our lives.”
One spectator said she set her alarm at 3.15am to watch the rehearsals.
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The soldiers had a special bond with the Queen
Katharine Horsfall said: “It’s been quite a long wait to get to the bit that I really wanted to see which was quite beautiful really, so on the day I think it will be an amazing tribute to the Queen.
“A great send-off with all the pageantry that she so well deserves.”
Another, Helen Spencer, said: “It’s very emotional. I think the thump of the drums makes your heart beat kind of in rhythm and that goes right through, it gives you goosebumps.
“Incredibly emotional, but very proud.”
The state hearse will approach the castle through Shaw Farm Gate on Windsor’s Albert Road, moving via the Long Walk, Cambridge Gate, Cambridge Drive, George IV Gate, Quadrangle (South and West sides), Engine Court, Norman Arch, Chapel Hill, Parade Ground and Horseshoe Cloister Arch.
Leading the procession and walking ahead of the coffin will be a dismounted detachment of the Household Cavalry Regiment, followed by a mounted division of the Sovereign’s Escort, a Massed Pipes and Drums of Scottish and Irish Regiments, the Bands of the Coldstream Guards and the Household Cavalry, officers of the Household Division, the Kings, Heralds and Pursuivants of Arms and members of the Queen’s personal staff.
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The Guardsmen are from the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards
In the centre, the state hearse is to be flanked by the pall bearers and an escort party consisting of two officers and 24 rank and file of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Positioned in the front and rear will be The Queen’s Company Colour, the Royal Standard of the Regiment of Grenadier Guards, and a Sovereign’s Standard of the Household Cavalry.
Behind will be members of the Queen’s, the King’s and the Prince of Wales’s households, followed by further mounted and dismounted detachments of the Household Cavalry.
Later in the evening, there will be a private interment service with senior members of the royal family.
The Queen’s final resting place will be the King George VI memorial chapel, an annex to the main chapel – where her mother and father were buried, along with the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.
The late Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin will move from the Royal Vault to the memorial chapel to join the Queen’s.