At the stroke of 2:22pm this afternoon, Her Majesty The Queen’s coffin was carried in procession on a gun carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where she will lie in state for four days ahead of her State Funeral on Monday 19 September 2022.
Before the procession set off, dismounted detachments of The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment formed up on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, as a Guard of Honour formed from troops of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, with its state colour draped, waited outside in the Queen’s Gardens.
The carriage, known as the George Gun Carriage and which carried King George VI’s coffin, was positioned in the Buckingham Palace Quadrangle with an escort party and a bearer party formed by The Queen’s Company 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
As the Commanding Officer of the Household Division, Major General Chris Ghika and his staff took up their positions in front of the gun carriage, and the bearer party carried Her Majesty’s coffin from within Buckingham Palace to be placed on the gun carriage.
Leaving Buckingham Palace for the last time
At 2:22pm on the dot, guns were fired from Hyde Park by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery - one round every minute for the duration of the procession, meaning approximately 38 rounds were fired. Simultaneously, Garrison Sergeant Major, Headquarters London District, WO1 Andrew Stokes, stepped off the procession.
Leading the procession out of Buckingham Palace and along The Mall was the dismounted detachment of The Life Guards of the Household Cavalry, featuring more than 50 soldiers.
Following them were four key personnel: Silver Stick in Waiting Colonel Mark Berry (former Life Guards); Field Officer in Brigade Waiting, Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Light, Irish Guards; Brigade Major Household Division, Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, Grenadier Guards and Aide-de-Camp to Major General Commanding the Household Division, Captain Jamie Roy.
Flanking the gun carriage were pall bearers, all were service equerries to The Queen, and the escort party and the bearer party drawn from The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Bringing up the rear of the procession, following His Majesty The King and members of the Royal Family, was a Blues and Royals marching detachment from The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
The procession marched at a pace of 75 steps per minute, which is specifically reserved for funerals and ensures it keeps time with the slow pace of the gun carriage. Ordinarily troops would either do a slow march of 60 beats per minute, or a quick march of 110 beats per minute.
Arrival at Westminster Hall in the grounds of the Palace of Westminster
As Her Majesty arrived in Westminster, the coffin was carried in procession by a bearer party of The Queen’s Company 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards from the gun carriage and placed on a raised platform, known as a catafalque, into Westminster Hall.
After a short service, the captain of The Queen’s Company 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, assisted by a senior sergeant, laid The Queen’s Company Colour, the royal standard of the regiment, on the steps of the catafalque at the south end.
Lying In State and the Vigil
A continuous vigil will be kept by His Majesty’s Body Guard of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, assisted at times by The King’s Body Guard for Scotland (The Royal Company of Archers), The King’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard, assisted by The Body of Yeomen Warders of HM Tower of London, and by units of the Household Division.
Those units will include: The Household Cavalry, the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards and the Welsh Guards. Each period of 24 hours will be divided into four watches. Except for the first and last, each of the 20 watches will last for 6 hours. Within each watch, a Vigil will last for 20 minutes.
More than 320 military personnel from all three services took part in this ceremonial activity, including 170 military personnel from The Household Division in the procession.
The Gun Carriage
The gun carriage is known as the George Gun Carriage and carried King George VI’s coffin from Sandringham Church to Wolferton Station in February 1952. It was also used in the funeral of The Queen Mother in 2002.
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery has six 13-pounder quick-fire guns, built between 1913 and 1918, all of which have seen active service in the First and Second World Wars. They are used regularly for royal salutes in Hyde Park, Green Park or Windsor Great Park for State Occasions and to mark royal anniversaries and royal birthdays. Each gun and limber weighs 1.5 tons and, with the team, is approximately 54 feet long.
Participating units, regiments and stations
- Royal Marines
- The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery
- The Household Cavalry
- Grenadier Guards
- Coldstream Guards
- Scots Guards
- Welsh Guards