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The Independent

Queen’s coffin to be carried to Westminster Abbey on historic gun carriage

The Queen’s coffin can be carried to Westminster Abbey on a 123-year-old gun carriage towed by 98 Royal Navy sailors, in a convention courting again to the funeral of Queen Victoria.

On the day of Victoria’s funeral in 1901, her coffin was to be carried on the gun carriage by means of the streets of Windsor however, within the bitter chilly of that February day, the horses which have been going to tug it panicked and reared, threatening to topple the coffin from the carriage.

Captain Prince Louis of Battenberg, the longer term First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, intervened and prompt to the brand new king, Edward VII, that the senior service ought to step in.

As soon as this was agreed, the horses have been unharnessed and improvised ropes have been hooked up to the gun carriage, which weighs 3,000kg (2.5 tonnes), and the group of sailors was introduced in to make sure the coffin was carried safely for the remainder of the route.

Solely 9 years later, on the funeral of Edward VII, the brand new routine grew to become enshrined as a convention which has been adopted in any respect state funerals since, together with these of kings George V and VI, Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten – the son of Captain Prince Louis of Battenberg.

On the Queen’s funeral, the gun carriage can be pulled by a 98-strong group of sailors referred to as the Sovereign’s Guard, whereas 40 sailors march behind the carriage to behave as a brake.

The gun carriage on the funeral of George VI (PA)

(PA Wire)

The carriage was constructed on the Royal Gun Manufacturing facility on the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich to hold the usual mild subject gun of the Military on the time, the breech-loaded 12-Pounder, however was transformed right into a ceremonial gun carriage by becoming a catafalque – a raised platform with horizontal rollers for shifting the coffin.

These days it’s saved at HMS Glorious on Whale Island in Portsmouth, underneath environmentally-controlled situations at a temperature of between 16C and 20C, and at humidity of between 40% and 70% to forestall it turning into dry and brittle and to cease fungal development.

Upkeep is carried out on behalf of King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery based mostly in Woolwich, with work on the wheel and coach carried out by Mike Rowland and Son Wheelwrights and Coachbuilders from Colton, South Devon.

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