About the State Funeral
On 8th September 2022 at 3:10pm Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, which she loved so much. The news didn't get released to the media until 6:30pm that night, UK time, although the Royal Family had stated that they were concerned for her health and that she was 'comfortable.' Born on 21st April 1926, she was 96 when she passed away peacefully. 3 days later on the 11th, the Cortege left Balmoral Castle and made the 175 mile journey to Holyrood Castle. It was on the 13th that she was taken from Edinburgh Airport and flown to RAF Northolt where she was then taken to Buckingham Palace. The following day, the coffin was taken to Westminster Hall where she lied in state until her funeral on Monday 19th September at 11am.
Members of the Armed Forces involved
There were many people involved in the State Funeral which has been planned and rehearsed for many years. 5949 members of the UK Armed Forces which included:-
- 846 personnel from the Royal Navy
- 4416 from the British Army
- 686 from the Royal Navy.
There was also 175 people from the Militaries of the Commonwealth Nations. The units, regiments and stations that took part in the funeral were:-
- The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery
- The Royal Marines
- The Household Cavalry
- The Grenadier Guards
- The Coldstream Guards
- The Scots Guards
- The Welsh Guards
Lying in State in Westminster Hall
From 14 - 19 September the Queen was lying in State in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament. This is a formal occasion where the coffin is placed in stage so people can pay their respects. The coffin is on a raised platform called a catafalque and on each corner it is guarded by members of the Sovereign's Guard of the Household,, Foot Guards and The King's Bodyguards. It is estimated that around a quarter of a million people viewed the Queen lying in state.
Just out of interest, the crown that was placed on top of the coffin contained 1868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls and 4 rubies. As people quietly made their way past the coffin, they would have noticed that it was draped in the Royal Standard, which represented both the Sovereign and the United Kingdom. People would have also noticed the Sovereign's Sceptre which has been used in every coronation since Charles II's coronation in 1661. And the orb indicates that the Monarchy's powers come from God.
The wreath that was placed on her coffin contained myrtle, which is the ancient symbol for a happy marriage. The myrtle was cut from a sprig of a plant that was grown for her marriage to Prince Phillip in 1947. It also contained English Oak, which is the symbol of strength, and also rosemary, which is a symbol of remembrance.
The Gun Carriage
The gun carriage is a frame and mount on wheels which is based on the gun carriage which would have been used to carry guns on the battlefield in the late 19th century and early 20 centuries. There is a major difference between this and a standard mount. And this is a that it is fitted with a catafalque - which is a raised platform which is fitted with rollers, (as mentioned when she was lying in state.) This allows the coffin to move more easily, and also when the bearers move it from the carriage.
The gun carriage weighs in at 2.5 tonnes and is kept on Whale Island in Portsmouth and is maintained by the Royal Navy. It has been used in 6 previous state funerals:-
- Queen Victoria (1901)
- King Edward VII (1910)
- King George V (1936)
- King George VI (1952)
- Winston Churchill (1965)
- Lord Mountbatten (1974)
There's a reason why the gun carriage is pulled by Navy Sailors. It dates back to Queen Victoria where the carriage was originally meant to be pulled by horses. But when they reared up, they decided to disregard using horses for fear the coffin would topple off the carriage, and Sailors have been used ever since. There were 98 sailors that pulled the Gun Carriage for 2.5 miles and 40 sailors marching behind who acted as the brakes.
The Queen's Final Resting Place
Queen Elizabeth is interred in St George's Chapel in Westminster Abbey along side her husband, Prince Phillip. The ledger stone marking her name is made out of Belgian black marble and it is hand-carved. It bears the names of Prince Phillip, Elizabeth II, Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) and George VI. When Prince Phillip died in 2021 he was interred in the Royal Vault in the Chapel, and was moved to the Memorial Chapel on the Queen's death. There are 11 members of Royalty in the Chapel including the Queen. These are:-
- Jane Seymour
- Charles I
- King George III
- King George IV
- King William IV
- King Edward IV
- King Edward VII
- Queen Mary
- Henry VIII
- Queen Alexandra
One final lament as the Queen's coffin was lowered.
© 2022 Louise Powles