The ‘largest security operation in British history’ is underway today, with at least 10,000 police officers and 1,500 soldiers forming a six-mile-wide steel ring around central London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
Many roads and bridges have been closed to traffic and 23 miles of barriers have been put in place to keep the crowds under control and key areas empty or safe, with snipers on the roofs of buildings along the procession’s route.
There is particularly heavy security around the Royal Hospital Chelsea, with an outer cordon of concrete blocks set up by the police at 6am, blocking all roads up to 600m away.
Two rows of bollards stretched across the road, along with a row of portable counter-terror barricades designed to stop a bomb-laden truck.
More than 20 police officers formed a cordon halfway down Lower Sloane Street.
About 150 yards past the barricade, three trucks used to transport bollards and security fences were parked across the road with flashing orange lights.
Police officers take positions for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in central London. It has been called the largest security operation in British history
At least 10,000 police officers help guard the funeral, some from other parts of the UK
Officers wear their full traditional uniforms for today’s historic occasion, which will be attended by millions
Today is expected to be the largest one-day security operation in the Met Police’s 200-year history, although officers from other forces will also be involved.
A group of soldiers march into position today on the day of the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth in London
Police set up a ‘ring of steel’ around the Royal Hospital Chelsea in the early hours of Monday morning to protect world leaders who are expected to travel by bus to the Queen’s funeral
More than 20 police officers formed a cordon halfway down Lower Sloane Street
Local residents, including dog walkers, had to identify themselves to prove where they lived before they were allowed through the cordon.
At around 7:30 a.m., two luxury Mercedes cars, believed to be official diplomatic vehicles from Sudan, were allowed through the cordon after brief security checks.
US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese are among the foreign dignitaries attending the funeral.
A car registered at the German embassy was seen near the security cordon, while German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was reportedly attending the Queen’s funeral.
Police dog handlers were also seen patrolling the area within the cordon around Royal Hospital Chelsea.
As the morning wore on, several members of the public who wanted to cross through the closed-off area to reach houses on the other side expressed their dismay to learn that the roads had been closed, and early morning joggers also left stunned. when they told them they couldn’t walk along their usual routes.
A series of small convoys of official diplomatic cars began taking the representatives of their respective countries to the meeting place at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where heads of state will board buses for the service.
Most luxury cars, including BMW, Mercedes and Audi motorbikes, had darkened rear windows, making it impossible to see who was being transported in the back.
A car with no blacked-out windows was seen just after 8am with Ireland’s silver-haired president, Michael D Higgins, pausing for security checks before going through the barriers on Lower Soane Street.
Nearly all the official cars were accompanied by security details in four by four vehicles, most of them appearing to be unmarked Metropolitan Police cars with flashing blue lights.
Others had additional escorts of up to four police motorcyclists when they arrived at the scene.
Other delegations that have recently arrived include Slovenia, Croatia, Nigeria and Malawi.
A car registered with the Irish embassy also belonged to a group of diplomatic cars that arrived in Chelsea accompanied by a police motorcycle.
At Mayfair’s Claridge’s Hotel, 10 protection officers were seen.
Irish Taoiseach Michael Martin is also expected to attend.
A police officer was seen with a protection dog outside the hospital
A sniper was spotted looking over the hospital on Sunday as preparations began to protect the dignitaries
More than 100 world leaders, heads of state and diplomats are expected to have been invited to the service – the first full state funeral Britain has hosted since Winston Churchill died in 1965.
Leaked government documents revealed that world leaders had plans to travel en masse to Westminster Abbey on a bus for Monday’s service, rather than private cars.
Concern has arisen among some world leaders after Biden was told by British authorities that he could make his own travel and security arrangements, while they were told they would have to take buses to the funeral.
The US president is said to have been granted an exemption in the capital to travel in the presidential armored vehicle called ‘The Beast’.
Among those who catch the bus are Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.
According to Politico, the 62-year-old and other visiting royals will be bussed to the service under strict guidance from the State Department.
The website reported that Belgian King Filip and Queen Mathilde, Spanish King Felipe and Queen Letizia, Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia and Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima would also be put on a shuttle bus.
Their decision to attend the Queen’s funeral underscores the importance and deep bond between the royal families. Traditionally, a Japanese emperor stays away from funerals, except those of his own parents, because of a cultural belief based on the Shinto religion that considers death unclean.
The Queen’s state ceremony officially ended at 6:30 a.m. Monday – with an estimated 400,000 mourners passing through Westminster Hall in the past five days.
Among those catching the bus are Japan’s Emperor Naruhito (pictured) and Empress Masako
The Queen’s stateroom officially ended at 6:30 a.m. Monday — with an estimated 400,000 mourners passing through Westminster Hall in the past five days
It comes when the Queen is reunited with her husband Prince Philip as she is buried today at a historic state funeral. On the national holiday, up to two million mourners are expected to flock to London, Windsor and royal venues across the UK, and the service is expected to attract an estimated 4.1 billion TV viewers around the world.
The royal family, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will be one of 2,000 gathered at Westminster Abbey this morning to remember the late monarch for a dedicated service at Windsor Castle.
They will walk in procession behind the Queen’s coffin as it is carried through the Gothic church by the army bearer. The king and queen consort walk directly behind the coffin.
They are followed by the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Prince and Princess of Wales. George and Charlotte walk side by side in formation with their parents, followed by their aunt and uncle the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and other royals.