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Soldiers must fire guns at precise second Big Ben chimes signalling end of funeral procession

Daisy Phillipson

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Soldiers must fire guns at precise second Big Ben chimes signalling end of funeral procession

Soldiers had to fire guns at the precise second Big Ben chimed throughout the Queen's funeral procession. Check it out:

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London was filled with thousands of mourners and official members of the spectacle at the funeral today (19 September).

After an hour-long service at Westminster Abbey, the coffin of the late monarch was transported on a gun carriage towards Wellington Arch near Buckingham Palace.

And it turns out Big Ben played a pretty significant role in the whole thing, as it tolled at one-minute intervals throughout the procession.

As explained by the British Army, the military signallers must make sure this part of the ceremony runs like clockwork down to the very last second so that it's in time with London's most famous clock.

In a statement, it said that for one team of soldiers, 'it is their job to ensure the guns of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire at precisely the same time that Big Ben chimes'.

The reason being that the guns firing marks the start and finish of the funeral procession, not the bongs.

The Queen's coffin was transported on a gun carriage. Credit: BBC
The Queen's coffin was transported on a gun carriage. Credit: BBC

Both the chimes of Big Ben and the minute gun salutes by the KTRHA, who were stationed at Hyde Park, makeup part of Operation London Bridge.

For those not in the know, Operation London Bridge is the funeral plan for Queen Elizabeth II, which includes the announcement of her death, the period of official mourning and the details of her state ceremony.

Following the event, viewed by millions across the globe, the Queen's coffin was transferred to a hearse before being sent to Windsor where she will be laid to rest.

While we're on the subject of the highly publicised event, one of the many questions that came up was why the funeral carriage was pulled by members of the armed forces instead of horses.

It turns out that there’s a reason for this, and it dates all the way back to the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901.

Before this date, the royal carriage was pulled by horses, bearing the Queen’s incredibly heavy coffin to Westminster Abbey.

However, one of the splinter bars of the gun carriage broke, with a strap also snapping and hitting one of the horses.

The animal panicked - as you can probably imagine - and lurched forwards, which could have caused serious problems for the event.

Soldiers loaded Queen Victoria's coffin onto the carriage. Credit: Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo
Soldiers loaded Queen Victoria's coffin onto the carriage. Credit: Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo

Back in 1901, the naval guard of honour accompanying the monarch’s coffin stepped in to fill the void left by the animals.

He agreed to drag the coffin on the carriage to Westminster Abbey so that the funeral could go ahead as planned.

The image became incredibly famous, and from this a new tradition was adopted and has been seen at every single British monarch’s state funeral ever since.

You learn something new everyday, eh?

Featured Image Credit: Antony Nettle/Alamy Stock Photo/BBC

Topics: The Queen, London, UK News, Royal Family

Daisy Phillipson
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