As the British government prepares to stage their first state funeral in nearly six decades, the security officials are also planning what has been slated to be the “biggest policing and protective operation” in UK history.
The Police has also announced that they are dusting off long-standing plans to keep safe attendees — including some of the global political leaders and royalty — at Queen Elizabeth II’s historic funeral, as well as the millions which had been predicted to flock to London around the time of the event.
No date has actually been announced for the late queen’s state funeral, which would also be the first since the service in 1965 for Winston Churchill, Britain’s prime minister during World War II. But it has been expected to be held in Westminster Abbey in the heart of the capital on September 19.
Prior to that, her body is set to lie in state for four days in Westminster Hall, the oldest building on the UK Parliamentary estate, following a ceremonial procession through the streets of London.
The pomp-laden events, in particular the funeral, will also require an array of elaborate security measures and some hundreds of world leaders and dignitaries as well as millions of people are expected to descend on Lond
They include US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and leaders from countries where the British monarch is head of state or which are members of the 56-nation Commonwealth. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito will be among royalty from around the world set to attend the funeral, according to reports, in his first overseas trip since he ascended the Chrysanthemum throne in 2019 following his father’s abdication.
“This will be probably the biggest policing and protective operation the UK has ever mounted,” Nick Aldworth, former Counter Terrorism Policing National Coordinator, told The Independent outlet.
“It just takes one car, one person to do something abhorrent, and not only have you disrupted a constitutional event, but people will also be injured and killed.”
Aldworth noted the ceremonial events would occur in a “very different threat world” compared to previous royal funerals, such as the Queen Mother’s in 2002 and princess Diana’s five years earlier.
Britain has been hit by numerous terror attacks in the last decade, including a spate of atrocities in London, Manchester, and other cities by jihadist extremists.
The current national threat level, set by the country’s MI5 domestic security service and designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack, is “substantial”.
That is in the middle of a five-tier ranking system rising from “low” to “critical”.
London’s Metropolitan police said Friday it had already begun deploying “well-rehearsed” plans for the official 10-day national mourning period, which will culminate in the landmark service for the country’s longest-serving monarch.