It’s moment in history awaits: The funeral gun carriage that will carry the Queen’s coffin to Westminster Abbey towed by 98 Royal Navy sailors is prepared outside Parliament 57 years after it used at Churchill’s state service

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It’s moment in history awaits: The funeral gun carriage that will carry the Queen’s coffin to Westminster Abbey towed by 98 Royal Navy sailors is prepared outside Parliament 57 years after it used at Churchill’s state service

It’s moment in history awaits: The funeral gun carriage that will carry the Queen’s coffin to Westminster Abbey towed by 98 Royal Navy sailors is prepared outside Parliament 57 years after it used at Churchill’s state service

  • Pictures taken this morning show the historic State Gun Carriage being unloaded outside Parliament Square
  • In total, more than Royal Navy 100 sailors will take part in the ceremony and use ropes to tow the gun carriage
  • Queen Elizabeth’s funeral is taking place at Westminster Abbey at 11 am this morning with London set to be full
  • The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage

The historic gun carriage that will transport the Queen’s coffin to Westminster Abbey later today has been pictured in preparations outside Parliament this morning – 57 years after it was used at Churchill’s state service.

The State Weapon carriage will set off at 10.44 am, attracted breathtaking style by 98 Imperial Naval force mariners known as the Sovereign’s Gatekeeper who will pull on ropes connected to the carriage’s front wheels, drawing the late ruler forward.

A further 40 sailors will serve as a brake at the rear, tugging on ropes fixed to the carriage’s back wheel during the funeral procession with each part of the day timed to perfection in what could be the biggest international event in decades.

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Pictures taken this morning showed the State gun carriage being unloaded by military personnel in Parliament Square in the early hours of this morning. 

The carriage has been in the care of the Royal Navy since 1901 when it was removed from active service for the funeral of Queen Victoria.

The carriage has since been used for the funerals of King Edward VII in 1910 and King George V in 1936, King George VI in 1952, Sir Winston Churchill in 1965 and was last called into action for the funeral of Lord Mountbatten

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The carriage has been in the care of the navy since 1901 when it was removed from active service for Queen Victoria’s funeral

Pictured: Members of the public file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall

The tradition of being transported on the State Gun Carriage was started by Queen Victoria who requested that she be buried as a soldier’s daughter’ and since then it has been the tradition for the gun carriage to be drawn by a royal guard of sailors.

While in the past, the carriage has been pulled by horses, the plan has long been for Queen Elizabeth II to be carried on the carriage with sailors using ropes rather than horses to pull it along.

It's moment in history awaits: The funeral gun carriage that will carry the Queen's  coffin to Westminster Abbey towed by 98 Royal Navy sailors is prepared  outside Parliament 57 years after it

The notable carriage, which weighs 2.5tonnes, was made by Vickers, Children and Saying in 1896.

The navy’s State Ceremonial Team will be commanded by Captain Catherine Jordan, who said: ‘She’s our Commander-in-Chief, we want to do our best for her in her last moments here, and we want to do our very best for our new Commander-in-Chief, King Charles.’

In total, more than 1,000 sailors and marines, some as young as 18, will carry out ceremonial duties during the funeral procession and have been drawn from ships and squadrons across the world.

Rear Admiral Jude Terry, who is responsible for planning the navy’s contribution, said: ‘For everybody within the parade, they will have their moment of reflection and honour to be able to have served her, as well as a moment of sadness.

‘We will all feel a great deal of emotion; she will have meant so much to us all in very different ways, all of us will have been touched by her presence in some way.

‘And then also as a reflection and a look-forward, how do we carry on and serve HM the King as we go forward in our careers, and that too comes with an almost desire to do the best for him as we can.’

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Presented above: Sir Winston Churchill’s casket and the State Firearm carriage pulled by a detachment of Watchmen, January 30, 1965

Pictured: Royal Navy personnel take part in rehearsals for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral at HMS Collingwood, Fareham

Pictured: Royal Navy personnel take part in rehearsals for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral at HMS Collingwood, Fareham

Rear Admiral Jude Terry, director of people and training, who is responsible for the Navy’s funeral planning and is the Navy’s first female admiral, said: ‘I know that for everyone who is a part of it, it is an absolute honour and privilege. 

Cdr Elliot, who will be part of the gun carriage contingent, said previously: ‘I was privileged and fortunate enough to command the detachment that took on public duties in 2017.

‘Now I have been privileged to be selected as the second in command for the Royal Navy contingent supporting Her Majesty’s funeral.

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‘I will have the sombre honour of marching in front of the gun carriage carrying Her Majesty’s body on her final journey.

‘Something perhaps a little more poignant for me is it will be my last action in uniform after 32 years’ service before I actually leave the Royal Navy.’

He added: ‘The royal family is incredibly important to the Royal Navy, our relationship is second to none. There is a fondness between monarchs, whether that be Queen Elizabeth or King Charles, and us which will not change and is fundamental and central to everything we do.

‘They were Her Majesty’s ships, they are now His Majesty’s ships; that connection is strong and powerful from the most junior sailor to the most senior officer.’

Talking during practices for the notable occasion, Capable Sailor Ryan Howarth, 25, whose father was a sign in the Military and who met the Sovereign at a regal nursery party, said: ‘I feel exceptionally respected. I didn’t figure I could at any point get to follow through with something like this in my vocation, and to do it following eight months of being in it is exceptionally surprising. I wasn’t hoping to follow through with something like this however (am) profoundly respected about it.

‘My grandma recently passed away this year while I was doing my training so I never got to attend her funeral. I am not saying this is her funeral but I probably have emotions come up on the day.’

The Queen has been lying in state at Westminster Hall with both her children and grandchildren mounting separate vigils on Friday and Saturday respectively.

As the coffin is taken from New Palace Yard to Westminster Abbey, a procession will be led by the massed pipes and drums of Scottish and Irish Regiments, the Brigade of Gurkhas and the RAF.

The royal mourners will walk immediately behind the Queen’s coffin. This includes the King and his siblings, the Duke of York, Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex. 

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Behind them will be three of the Queen’s grandchildren – the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex and Peter Phillips.

Finally, Princess Anne’s husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Swindon will follow.

The procession is due to arrive at the West Gate of Westminster Abbey at 10:52 am, shortly before the funeral begins at 11 am in which the life will be remembered of the longest-serving British monarch.

The funeral itself, starting at 11 am, will be conducted by the Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle. There will be a collection of readings, prayers and hymns as well as a sermon by the Archbishop of Canterbury who also gives the Commendation.

At 11.55 am the Last Post will sound before two minutes of silence. This will be followed by Reveille, the National Anthem at 12pm and a Lament played by the Queen’s piper which will signal the end of the State funeral.

The Conveyor Party, headed by the Lord and Sovereign Partner, will return the casket to the firearm carriage for its parade to Wellington Curve – where individuals from the public will line the roads to watch.

Princess Royal and her husband will be behind the King and Queen Consort. Behind them will be the Duke of York  – who yesterday released a tribute to his late mother – followed by the Wessex.

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The Prince and Princess of Wales will be behind them and in a last-minute announcement, their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte will attend their great-grandmother’s funeral and join the Bearer Party.

They will be in front of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Earl of Swindon and Peter Phillips. Finally, the Duke of Gloucester, Prince Michael of Kent and the Duke of Kent will be at the back of the coffin.

The procession, which many will never have seen anything like before, will begin at 12.15pm, where the coffin will be followed by King Charles and the Royal Family.

The Queen Consort,with the Princess of Wales, and the Duchess of Sussex, with the Countess of Wessex, will follow behind in a car.

Guns will be fired every minute in Hyde Park and Big Ben will toll during the procession despite the clock tower being under urgent investigation after it failed to chime during the nation’s minute of silence last night.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners are expected to line the 1.7-mile route which goes past The Mall and Buckingham Palace before reaching Wellington Arch at 1 pm.

Here, the coffin will be transferred to State Hearse as it is driven to Windsor to the sound of the National Anthem on departure.

TV coverage of the funeral will be on BBC, ITV and Sky all day and members of the public out in the capital can view it on screens in Hyde Park.

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At 3.06 pm, the State Hearse will join the procession in Windsor as it goes past thousands of mourners lining up The Long Walk to Windsor Castle.

The Queen’s grandchildren followed their parent’s vigil by standing guard at their grandmother’s coffin on Saturday evening

Mourners have already been seen carrying their belongings and sitting in camp chairs as they look to secure an early spot along the procession route.

King Charles and the other royals are expected to walk directly behind the coffin at around 3.40 pm before the procession halts at the bottom of the West Steps of St George’s Chapel at 3.53pm.

The Queen Consort, with the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Sussex with the Countess of Wessex, will once again follow by car. 

The Bearer Party will lift the coffin from the State Hearse in what is set to be a deeply emotional moment as they carry it up the West Steps where it will be welcomed by a guard of honour.

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At 4 pm a broadcast Committal Administration will start, led by the Senior member of Windsor. The parade will enter the sanctuary and continue down the middle passageway to the catafalque in the Quire.

Prior to the final hymn the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre will be removed from the coffin by the Crown Jeweller.

The Queen will be lowered into the Royal Vault as the Dean of Windsor reads a final psalm and commendation before the Archbishop of Canterbury gives a final blessing. This will be followed by the singing of God Save The King.

There will be a private, non-televised service at 7.30 pm for the King and members of the Royal Family where Her Majesty will be buried together with her husband Prince Philip at the King George VI Memorial Chapel.

As well to the unloading of the gun carriage, preparations are well underway for the funeral with police closing roads in London and motorists were warned to avoid driving in parts of the capital amid one of Britain’s biggest transport operations in history.

Street terminations started to roll in from 6 am today on the A4 and the A30 in West London towards Windsor, with full terminations in the two headings after 10 am, which are not prone to be lifted until the night.

Multiple closures on local roads along the A4 will also be in place. People looking to drive around central, West and South West London were advised to check before they travel, allow extra time and expect long delays.

Bus routes will also be severely affected with many routes diverted or stopping short of their destinations. Between one and two million people are expected to visit the capital for the funeral which begins at 11 am.

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