Our Military Affiliates have individual and collective stories, sharing their contribution to what was a very sad but very proud day for them, for us, for our nation.
603 Squadron (City of Edinburgh) Royal Auxiliary Airforce
There was a special bond between Her Majesty and 603 Squadron. Starting in 1951, the Squadron was honoured when the then HRH Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, accepted the appointment as Royal Honorary Air Commodore (HAC) of 603 Squadron. This honour was magnified when she ascended to the throne and the bond endured for over 70 years.
603 Sqn’s OC, Squadron Leader Derek Read, took part in the funeral parade, as did a platoon of 2 Officers and 23 junior ranks, primarily because Her Majesty was Royal Honorary Air Commodore of 603 Squadron.
Air Marshal Sir David Walker, who carried out HAC (Honorary Air Commodore) duties to 603 Squadron on behalf of The Queen, but who marches here in his capacity as a former equerry to The Queen and former Head of the Royal Household.
Whilst the Squadron has planned for this over the years, it has been a task that has been anticipated with some trepidation, as all who partook understand the responsibilities and enormity of the task they had undertaken.
LS Pipes & Drums for Her Late Majesty’s Funeral
Whilst not strictly one of our Company’s Military Affiliates, the London Scottish Pipes and Drums are familiar to many of us from their close relationship with us.
We are able to share the update received from Lt. Col. Geoffrey Strickland, President, The London Scottish Pipes & Drums during preparations for the State Funeral:
“Wearing my Band President hat, I’ve just been to see our Pipes and Drums at Longmoor Camp, who are busy preparing for Monday. There will be 17 of them on parade, part of a total massed pipes and drums of 140 from across the Army (and the RAF). The London Scottish are one of the largest single unit contingents, larger than the Foot Guards contingents. Which is doubly impressive when you consider that they are all taking leave from their civilian jobs.
Their Hodden Grey kit looks fantastic, in no small part due to Piper Caroline Hicks, who is a seamstress and brought an industrial sewing machine with her!
Monday will be a sad and solemn day, but we can be very proud of our band and their part in it.”
Corporal Andy Parsons piped at the Thanksgiving Service at St Paul’s and both he and Jim MacLuas who both regularly play for us were both involved in proceedings.
825 Naval Air Squadron
We received an update stating that “One member from 825 Naval Air Squadron had the honour to play a small part in the ceremonial duties for the funeral procession of Queen Elizabeth II. A number of personnel were on standby to assist.”
Liveryman Matthew Russell, our liaison officer with 825 NAS, shared an insight gleaned from working with 825: “Those on standby are as important as those deployed at the front. It is so important to have flexibility to the plan and without the reserve element the planners have little or no flexibility. For the individuals on standby who are then stood down, it’s a double-edged sword with mixed emotion. When on standby, part of you is looking forward to getting involved and yet part of you doesn’t, preferring to be like all the others and be a spectator for the day.”
Some may also have met Lieutenant Commander Rob Dixon when he was Liaison Officer for 825. Rob, who has been Equerry to HRH Prince William, is now Equerry to HRH The Prince of Wales and as such played a prominent part in proceedings, notably following the Royal Family through the processions; a huge privilege and one that he will cherish for many years to come.
Two members (Sub Lieutenant Elliot Marples and Leading Seaman James Kenyon) of what was HMS MONTROSE Port Watch, represented their new ship, HMS LANCASTER, and the Royal Navy paid their respects at the Lying in State, at the request of The First Sea Lord.
The Crown Jeweller, corporate freeman Mark Appleby of Mappin & Webb
Our corporate Freeman, of Mappin & Webb, the Crown Jeweller Mark Appleby had a historic role in the proceedings, removing the instruments of State. A poignant moment on a solemn day honouring a most remarkable life.