Who are the sailors pulling the gun carriage?

The gun carriage was first used for the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901 and has since become a tradition

The gun carriage was used for the final journey of King George VI. PA
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The state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II gives a starring role to the gun carriage and the sailors who will guide it to Westminster Abbey.

A crew of 98 Royal Navy sailors, known as the Sovereign’s Guard, will use white rope to haul the state gun carriage on which the queen’s coffin will be placed.

Behind them, another 40 sailors will march behind the carriage to act as a brake.

The gun carriage was first used for the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901 but has since become a tradition in royal and other notable funerals.

The transport, officially called the state gun carriage, is a field gun carriage that has been looked after by the Royal Navy since 1901, when it was removed from active service for the funeral of Queen Victoria.

It was also used for the funerals of King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI, Winston Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten.

The carriage was built in the late 1890s at the gun factory at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich.

When not being used, the carriage is housed at HMS Excellent, a naval base near Portsmouth, where custodian Lt Commander Paul Barker makes sure it is always ready for service.

“The gun carriage lives in an environmentally controlled room in HMS Excellent so we try to keep it at a constant temperature and weekly I go in and turn the wheels a quarter turn to stop them from going egg-shaped with gravity and lots and lots of polishing,” he said.

“In preparation for this event, we have increased that polishing ten-fold — if you look at the gun carriage, the barrel itself hasn’t been chromed — that’s years and years of polishing and lots and lots of elbow grease.

“I tend to get upset if I see a new scratch, so I have probably crawled over every single part of it in the past four or five years.”

The carriage was last fully refurbished in 1985.

Updated: September 18, 2022, 10:26 AM
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