Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II is huge security challenge

LONDON– The funeral of the only monarch most Britons have known involves the biggest security operation London has ever seen.

Mayor Sadiq Khan says Monday’s state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II will be an “unprecedented” security challenge, with hundreds of thousands of people in central London and a guest list of 500 emperors, kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers and other leaders from around the world World.

“It’s been decades since so many world leaders have been in one place,” Khan said. “It’s unprecedented … in terms of the different things we’re juggling.”

“There could be evil people who want to harm individuals or some of our world leaders,” Khan told The Associated Press. “That’s why we’re working incredibly hard – the police, the security services and many, many others – to make sure this state funeral is as successful as possible.”

Metropolitan Police Deputy Deputy Commissioner Stuart Cundy said the “extremely complex” police operation was the largest in the history of the London Armed Forces, surpassing the London 2012 Olympics.

More than 10,000 police officers will be on duty on Monday, with London’s bobbies being joined by reinforcements from all 43 UK police forces. Hundreds of volunteer marshals and members of the armed forces will also act as law enforcement along the procession route.

They’re just the most visible part of a security operation run from a high-tech control center near Lambeth Bridge, not far from Parliament.

Street drains and garbage cans are searched and sealed. On Monday there will be policemen on rooftops, sniffer dogs on the streets, naval officers on the Thames and mounted policemen.

Flying drones over central London has been temporarily banned and Heathrow Airport is grounding numerous flights to avoid aircraft noise disrupting the memorial service.

The authorities are faced with the challenge of protecting 500 heads of state without shaking too many diplomatic feathers. Presidents, Prime Ministers and Kings will congregate outside the grounds before being taken by bus to the Abbey – although an exception will be made for US President Joe Biden, who is expected to arrive in his armored limousine known as The Beast.

Another challenge is the sheer size of the crowd that will gather around Westminster Abbey and along the route the coffin will take after burial, past Buckingham Palace to Hyde Park. From there it is to be taken by hearse around 20 miles (32 kilometers) to Windsor, where another 2,000 police officers will be on duty.

The Queen is to be buried in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle with her husband Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99.

Police are erecting more than 36 kilometers of cordoning off in central London to keep crowds under control and transport chiefs brace for crowded stations, buses and Tube as 1 million people flood London’s ceremonial heart. Subways are running later than normal and train companies are adding extra services to get people home.

While many will mourn the loss of the Queen, support for the monarchy is far from universal. Police have already been criticized for arresting several people involved in events surrounding the Queen’s death and King Charles III’s accession to the throne. protested peacefully.

Cundy said it was made clear to officers that “people have a right to protest”.

“Our response here in London will be proportionate and balanced, and officials will only take action where absolutely necessary,” he said.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said the aim is to keep the event safe “and to try to do that as quietly as possible as this is obviously a celebratory occasion”.

The Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, who will conduct the funeral service at the 900-year-old Abbey, said preparations had gone smoothly – despite the occasional security disruption.

“There was a wonderful moment when bouquets of flowers were waiting at the abbey and no flowers because the police didn’t properly recognize the van and the flowers were sent back,” he said.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II is huge security challenge

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