Planning for the Queen’s State Funeral on Monday will be “immensely challenging”, according to one of the UK’s most respected security figures.
Former Metropolitan Police officer Eric Stuart, Director of Gentian Events and Chair of UK Crown Management Association, says the range of sectors involved in the period of national mourning will deliver the occasion successfully.
Mr Stuart, speaking exclusively to Security Journal UK, was instrumental in delivering events such as the Notting Hill Carnival and New Year’s Eve in London.
He said: “This must have been the longest-planned event in UK if not world history.
“It has been no secret that plans have been maintained both at Scotland Yard and more recently through Department of Culture Media and Sport contracts for decades.
“It has also been no secret that as a company we have been honoured to be involved for almost as many years as I shared the police planning office with those responsible back when I served.”
No one is exactly sure how many people will head for London ahead of and during the Queen’s lying-in-state at Westminster Hall and the State Funeral.
According to observers, than 750,000 are anticipated for Her Majesty’s lying-in-state while the funeral might attract “millions”.
While much of the planning, security and logistics have been worked out in Operation London Bridge in advance, the timing and location of the Queen’s death could never be certain.
She died last Thursday afternoon (September 8) at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.
Mr Stuart added: “The plans are sound but based on an event that no one wanted to happen, despite its inevitability. Its timing could never be known and so planning and preparing for an untimed, undated event in an unknown season and commencing in any number of locations where the Queen might be, was always immensely challenging.
“Oh, and no one could say with any certainty the ‘mood of the nation’ and the crowd size. But, those plans have been written, rewritten, reviewed and tested to the best of everyone’s ability.
“I am confident that the combined efforts of the events industry, the emergency services, multiple government departments, the military and the crowd management industry who bear the brunt of the safe management of spectators, will deliver an event that will mark such a significant moment in history”.
As part of the preparations for the State Funeral, thousands of soldiers in ceremonial uniform gathered at Buckingham Palace in the early hours for the dry run.
The Queen’s coffin is due to arrive in London from Scotland on Tuesday evening and will remain in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace overnight before being taken to lie in state at Westminster Hall from Wednesday. Thereafter there will be a four-day lying-in-state.
According to the Daily Telegraph, an early-morning rehearsal saw the horse-drawn carriage of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery being led along the route.
A black coffin was placed on the gun carriage and, at around 4am, the procession was ordered to march and the carriage, pulled by horses, made its way via Queen’s Gardens, The Mall, Whitehall, Parliament Street, Parliament Square and New Palace Yard.
Central London’s streets were sealed off for the massive operation this morning but the real procession begins at 2.22pm on Wednesday, lasting 38 minutes.
King Charles III, members of the royal family and senior staff of the Queen and King’s households are expected to walk behind the coffin.
The rehearsal, which took place before the sun came up, saw people standing in for them.
Given the time, only a few onlookers were present for the military spectacular, with some finding themselves there by chance.
Security expert Philip Ingram told SJUK last week that part of the funeral have been rehearsed in sections in the dead of night many times over recent years in preparations for the Queen’s death.
FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO THE ROYAL FAMILY’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE The Royal Family
MAIN PHOTOGRAPH: The Royal Family