Military personnel have commenced rehearsals for the Ceremonial Funeral of His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, which will take place at Windsor Castle on Saturday.
“It’s a huge responsibility”
Early morning grey skies made way for bright sunshine as the drill staff scrutinised every move and turn of military personnel from all three Services, as they practised the complicated choreography in groupings large and small.
The Funeral and Procession will consist of marching troops and military bands from units who have a special connection to His Royal Highness.
Captain Little, Officer Commanding the Army School of Ceremonial, said that many challenges had to be conquered in recent days to ensure an event of this importance can go ahead:
“Having been in the Army for over 20 years, I’ve conducted large parades before but not in this short space of time. The Trooping of the Colour, for example, normally requires a few months of training but for this Royal Funeral, from receiving the Death Notice, we have had a week to prepare. To do all that and to get all three Services to work in synchronicity is a huge achievement.
We have had a week to prepare. To get all three Services to work in synchronicity is a huge achievement. Capt Little, Officer Commanding, Army School of Ceremonial
Each regiment in the Army has their own little idiosyncrasies and to synchronise all the arms drill and foot drill and try to do that across all the Armed Forces has been challenging.
In the back of our minds we need to bear in mind and remember it is a sombre parade and a celebration of His Royal Highness’ life and the service he has given to the country.”
Music drifted from all four corners of the camp as bands, pipes and drums rehearsed specially selected musical arrangements ensuring every beat was in time and given the seal of approval from Band Masters and Drum Majors.
The afternoon saw everybody come together in a blend of music and marching, as drills and ceremony familiarisation were practiced time and again until perfection was almost reached. Whilst today was a job well done, tomorrow will see them do it all again.
Captain Teggarty, Director of Music of The Band and Bugles of The Rifles, said his personnel have an integral part to play at the ceremony:
“Being part of the Guard of Honour is one of the main features of the event and is a big privilege.
It’s a huge responsibility, as well as marching the Guard of Honour up to Windsor Castle, through the Castle and back down again, we are also responsible for playing the Royal Salute, the National Anthem. For us to do that is huge.
We will be stood at the steps to St George’s Chapel and it we will have a huge responsibility to stay focussed on the job ahead and not be carried away in the moment.
For the Rifles, it will be quite an emotional day because the Duke of Edinburgh was the Colonel-in-Chief for many years.”
On a personal note he added:
“This is one the proudest moment of my career, I’ve been in the army for 25 years and for the first nine I spent with the Welsh Guards Band doing lots of State Ceremonials, Queen’s Birthday Parades and I was privileged to play at The Queen Mother’s Funeral as well.
Fast forward many years later and being the Director of Music of the Rifles Band at the biggest event I’ve had to do is an immense honour.”
“It is my time to make them proud”
Since yesterday, members of the Armed Forces have been arriving at Brunswick Lines, Pirbright, from across the United Kingdom. Those taking part in the ceremonial procession include a Guard of Honour, Route Liners, Bearer Parties and military bands.
Nothing has been forgotten, even the ceremonial dress will receive close inspection, ensuring that those selected will be at their very best for the British Army Field Marshal, a rank bestowed upon him by HM The Queen in 1953 which he held until his death.
Master Tailor, Warrant Officer Class 2 Osea Navuso, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (The Highlanders) whose role is to maintain and upkeep the distinguished uniforms of the soldiers and officers of Scotland’s infantry said:
“This is a day we’ve all been preparing for; to be involved with this momentous occasion, honoured is an understatement.
This is one of the most important activities that the regimental tailor can be involved with, it is my time to make them proud.”
The Fijian soldier has served for 20 years and in that time has had the privilege to meet the Regimental Colonel in Chief twice. Recalling one occasion he added:
“I met the Duke of Edinburgh in Germany on our return from Operation Herrick 19 when he presented Operational medals to the battalion my family who were excited. It took quite a while for the family to realise that HRH was literally there.
I’m from Fiji and the only time we see him is on the TV or in the papers, but we got the chance to speak to him personally.”
The last-minute funeral preparations can only be delivered through the support of 27 Royal Logistic Corp, who have provided the services required for the smooth delivery to ensure the finest farewell to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and a thank you for his military service.
One of those support staff, Corporal Dan Flintoft, Quartermaster Department said:
“On a personal note I feel proud and humble to be a part of this. With my role enabling the guys to go ahead and perform these important duties, it is a significant moment in my career.”