Massive Operation

There are times that I know, know without a doubt that I must. And there are other times that I only know what I know. What if I don’t find out? What if I just let it go without trying?

I try everything – at least once. How can we grow and experience without trying? Within reason, of course.

I told myself that I have to attend or I know I’ll always wonder. And so I did … I made the trek into London on one of the busiest days ever. To be present at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. What an experienced to watch the pomp and ceremony of the Queen’s last journey. To represent my family and friends who would have loved to be there but couldn’t.

I also stood in a queue 2 days earlier to pay my respects at her coffin in Westminster Hall. The photo below was taken just after 23.00 on Saturday 17 September, after leaving the Hall.

Westminster Hall is the building to the right – the light shines through the large window partly covered by a tree

I was privileged to say my goodbye to a woman of substance. Of integrity. Of decency. She was loved by many. Saw more Prime Ministers enter and leave her service than any other monarch, met with the rich and powerful. She recognised the ordinary (wo)man in the street, as well as the intellectual and creative. Had a sense of humour. We knew her public persona, and now she’s gone, we’re learning more about the woman behind the Crown.

Me at Westminster Hall on Saturday 17 September, paying my respects on behalf of my family and friends

HRH Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch has died. Her Crown, her duties, her everything, but life, slipped silently to her son and heir. The succession plan was in place for 70 years. He is well versed and ready to take on the role as King Charles III, having been trained ‘on the job’.

Much is written about the Queen’s funeral. And the respect shown by the world to her. I’m writing today about my experience on the day of her funeral. I’d like to thank the people in the ‘back rooms’ who showed the world how to do it. How to send Ma’am off with a bang.

Yes, her laying to rest was planned for years. The precision. The timing. The organisation of every last detail. It was a massive, massive operation. The organisation required was of the highest standard.

On Monday 19 September 2022, I stood with my friend, Aileen, on Horse Guards, opposite Downing Street, where the Prime Minister of the UK lives. We stood between the Cenotaph and the entry to Horse Guards.

This marks the place I stood with my friend to watch the funeral procession

Aileen and I woke at about 5 a.m. to make our way to find a good spot to watch the proceedings. At 6 a.m. along with thousands of other people, we attempted to walk cross Westminster Bridge. Road blocks prevented us crossing and we were herded along the River Thames to walk at least twice as far to get to where we wanted to be.

It was a great place to be – we didn’t quite realise it at the time when we squeezed in between people. I managed to get right to the front of the barrier, Aileen’s view was between heads of people just in front. We were behind a huge camera. It was operated by one who looked very experienced, obviously not phased by the great event he was filming – live. Click here to read a report about the outside broadcast operation, assembled very quickly to record the Queen’s journey to her final resting place. Another massive operation that had been planned for years and I am sure updated many times till this day.

Cameraman and assistant

In the cameraman’s ‘pen’ was an assistant and their security personnel. Poor security person was asked to move by The Public as he blocked the camera-ready viewers who wanted THAT particular photo! Of course, he pandered to our requests a few times, then decided to do his job and ignore our pleas.

It seemed that every person taking part in that monumental parade, heading towards Westminster Abbey, came through the gates on Horse Guards. I took photos and videos – remember as you view, that I am not a professional photographer! These personnel on parade were put through their paces and apparently instructed to ‘take salt’ in the build up to the ceremonial processions so they did not pass out. Read about it here.

We watched each of the regiments assemble and March down the wide road to take their place in the procession. We watched those on horseback. The Navy who drew the gun carriage. The British Legion and a regiment (if that’s what they are called) made up of military personnel from all the Commonwealth countries. They proudly march along in their uniforms, all spick and span, with shiny buttons and boots. They marched along the roads accompanied by their brothers and sisters, proud to be chosen to represent at such an auspicious occasion. The smart military bands marched by, their brass and silver instruments sparkling as they played on their way to Westminster Abbey.

One of the military bands
The Navy on their way down to Westminster Abbey from where they drew the gun carriage back along this road, carrying the Queen’s coffin
King Charles III – his Standard flying on his car. He was the last of his family to make his way to his Mum’s funeral

The activity of the military did not stop once the King passed us by and when the church service began. More regiments appeared whilst the funeral service boomed out over the public address system to us who waited patiently for 6 hours to view our Queen on her last journey.

We watched as the Guards in their red and fluffy black headgear assembled. The commanding officers shouted their instructions over the words and music of the funeral service. What a spectacle on show. My video below captures some moments.

A 2 minute vídeo. You can hear the funeral service on the public address system while these soldiers are being given their commands to get into formation

As the church service came to an end, and we heard that the coffin was being carried out of the Abbey, the cloud curtain that had dimmed the sky, drew back to let the sun shine through. I heard the birds chorus, their sound in time with the Last Post.

And then they all came back again up Horse Guards – accompanying the Queen through the glorious streets of London, they passed many, many thousands of people, to Hyde Park, from where she made the rest of the journey by car to Windsor.

The Navy drawing the gun carriage with the coffin
The coffin shrouded in the Queen’s Standard with her Crown a-top and flowers picked that morning from her Palace gardens
King Charles walking behind his Mother’s coffin – he is wearing the white cap and black and gold uniform

Security

Such a massive organisation needed massive security. It was reportedly the biggest security event in the U.K. My friend and I wandered around the streets of London on Sunday, the day before the funeral. Many roads and side streets were blocked. Not only because of the funeral procession on Monday, but because many heads of state and people of importance had already arrived in the City. They were accommodated at hotels that would have been security screened. Read about the security here.

The police were out in full force. Not only the London Bobbies, but forces were brought in from around the country. We saw them later in the day, looking for places to eat as we did. Looking at their maps on their mobile devices to figure out where to go.

Crowds

A big mention to hundreds, nay thousands, of everyday people who joined the security companies, the volunteers such as scouts, first aiders and more, who kept the public safe. They were in their reflective yellow vests, or orange, or blue or green – I guess it depended on seniority or their job role. They showed us where to go, where to stand, they kept people moving to avoid overcrowding. They kept clear spaces for emergency ambulances and so that people could walk. They blocked roads so entrances and exits were controlled. It was clearly a matter of herding the sheep to where they wanted us to go. These people were the shepherds, and from where I stood, they did a pretty good job.

I heard them politely ask people who had made the pavements their beds, their resting place, to “Please get up. You could be crushed if someone falls. Move out to the back if you need to sit or lie down, and ask the people around you to keep your place.”

These people, in my eyes, were the heroes. They did a splendid job. If there were altercations, I did not see or hear. I have no photos of them though. They were in full force throughout the City. A big thank you to them.

It’s amazing what happens when people are assembled for a common purpose. Friendliness ensues. I listened to many conversations of people around me who met that morning. Who gladly “kept the place” when someone needed to go find a toilet, sit down for a while, or just take a walk.

At the end

By 12 noon, tired and hungry, we made our way back to our hotel. On the way we stopped for a bite to eat and a cup of coffee at Gail’s Bakery. It was time to sit down after 7 hours of being on our feet. And then Aileen and I parted ways and each headed home.

On my train journey home I felt the emotion of the last few days. I read the messages from my family and friends, all wishing my friend and I a good experience. They were watching the day’s events live on TV. They were concerned that we were okay in the crowds.

And so, I’m pleased I was there. That night I watched the whole day’s proceedings on TV. What a good view, what coverage from the comfort of my home. For me though, being there in London, I felt the atmosphere, I was pleased I made it to a momentous occasion.

The Queue

On Saturday 17 September I joined the Queue at 11.30 at Southwark Park and paid my respects to the Queen just after 23.00.

Part of The Queue to see the Queen lying in state
My steps recorded till midnight on Saturday 17th …

And I collapsed on my friends’ Diego and Aileen’s sofa around 01.00 on Sunday 18th another 500 steps later having walked the Underground and caught a train to their place. All I wanted was a nice cuppa tea … and I had the luxury of a hot, hot shower, a hot water bottle and a comfortable bed! Thank you to my dear friends.


My song for this post is nostalgic – beautifully sung in my opinion – by retired Rear Admiral Nirmila Kannan. If Tomorrow Never Comes a song I’m sure touches anyone who has lost a loved one.

Rear Admiral (rtd) Nirmila Kannan

I write when I have the urge. I write to express feelings. I write to explore my imagination. I write about my thoughts. I write about topics I find interesting. I write to relax. I write because I like to write. If you find words or songs that resonate in my blogs, I’d love to hear from you. If you find a situation that reminds you of something, someone, sometime, I’d love to hear from you. I do hope you enjoy reading Cecilyswritings as much as I enjoy sharing.

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(c) Cecily Lalloo and (c) Cecilyswritings 2022. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, and photos taken by Cecily, without permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Readers of my blog are welcome to share excerpts and links (shares) provided that full and clear credit is given to Cecilyswritings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content, or to other authors/writers/artists where they are acknowledged.

Where I use images, music and quotes in my blog that do not belong to me, no copyright infringement is intended. I shall, wherever possible, attribute or apply links to the original where it’s on the internet. ALL PHOTOS IN THIS POST ARE BY Cecily Lalloo (c)2022.

Written by Cecily between 19 September and 2 October 2022 and posted on 3 October 2022.

3 thoughts on “Massive Operation

  1. Hi I sent.a reply to the WordPress…but was returned

    What a great occasion to be present at memories that will live forever.

    The queing and tiredness to get to see the Queens coffin was probably worth the wait to be part of such a historical occasion never to be repeated in our lifetimes.

    Photos taken so close all tell a story and the crowds that were there all under control amazing.

    Yes, as you say years of planning went into this event.

    I want to sit and watch it quietly hope we managed to record all.

    Have a nice day

    Hot here
    Love. Deno xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Tiyana2007 thank you! Your comment has been received, and is appreciated. It was pending approval as we often get spam.

      Much appreciate your reading and sharing your thoughts. I too sat quietly and watched from start to end. Thinking about Mum, Granny T and family.
      Take care, Cecily 🌷

      Like

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