The ceremonial processions at Queen Elizabeth II's funeral are steeped in royal traditions

Five things to know about the Queen’s coffin procession

Solemn processions at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II are imbued with royal traditions – Copyright POOL/AFP Victoria Jones

Marie HAIKLIN

The ceremonial processions that carry the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II to London’s Westminster Abbey and then to her burial place in Windsor reflect the ancient traditions of the British monarchy.

– Pulled out by the Royal Navy –

Royal Navy sailors will use ropes to haul the Queen’s lead-lined coffin mounted on a gun carriage from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey. Their teammates of 142 sailors will walk alongside to act as a brake if needed.

This tradition dates back to the funeral of Queen Victoria in February 1901.

The horses that were supposed to be pulling a carriage weighing more than two tons panicked and began to kick, threatening to drop the coffin.

One of the Queen’s relatives, Prince Louis of Battenberg, a captain in the Royal Navy, suggested to the new King Edward VII that this problem could be avoided by replacing horses with sailors.

Nine years later, when Edward VII himself died, this idea was brought to life again and has since become an unchanged tradition of state funerals.

– Carrying the coffin in bearskins –

Eight soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards will have to carry the Queen’s coffin from Westminster Hall to the gun carriage outside and then to Westminster Abbey.

One of the most ancient in the British Army, the regiment is one of the five infantry regiments that make up the Queen’s (now the King’s) Life Guards.

The soldiers of the regiment usually wear tall bearskin caps, a uniform they copied from the grenadiers of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard defeated at Waterloo in 1815.

Soldiers will be accompanied by the Queen’s Service Grooms, assistants who assist members of the royal family in their public duties.

– Guard of honor –

Three regiments will play a particularly important role in the procession, which will pass close to the coffin of the queen.

The Yeomanry of the Guard, the oldest military unit in the British Army, created in 1485, and the Corps of Honor of the Army Gentlemen are two former bodies of the Royal Family’s bodyguards who now only serve in a ceremonial role.

Yeomen of the Guard always wear red and gold uniforms dating back to the Tudor era (16th century).

One of their most famous pursuits is to search the Palace of Westminster for gunpowder before the State Opening of Parliament.

This annual ritual commemorates the Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up King James I and Parliament in 1605.

They will be followed by members of the Royal Company of Archers, who served as bodyguards for Elizabeth II whenever she was in Scotland.

Some detachments from other British regiments and from the armed forces of the Commonwealth, a group of countries led by the British monarch, will join the funeral procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch on the corner of Hyde Park near Buckingham Palace.

– Royal House of Elizabeth II –

While members of the royal family, led by the new King Charles III, will follow the coffin, they will be followed by members of the royal court, including the highest-ranking official in the royal court, the Lord Chamberlain.

They will be preceded by the pipers and drummers of the Scottish and Irish regiments, as well as the Gurkha brigade, consisting of soldiers from Nepal who are part of the armed forces. There will also be 200 RAF musicians.

– 6000 troops –

Some 6,000 soldiers, sailors and crews of the British armed forces will take part in the procession, Admiral Tony Radakin, Chief of the British Defense Staff, said on Sunday.

At several points along the route, they will give the royal salute, for example when they pass the Victoria Memorial in memory of the Queen.

“For all of us, this is our last duty to Her Majesty the Queen and our first important duty to His Majesty King Charles,” he said.

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