The funeral of the only monarch most Britons have ever known involves the largest security operation London has ever seen.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Monday State funeral for Queen Elizabeth II is an “unprecedented” security challenge, with hundreds of thousands of people packed in central London and a funeral guest list of 500 emperors, kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers and leaders. other from all over the world.
“It has been decades since many of these world leaders were in one place,” said Khan. “This is unprecedented… in relation to the many different things we are juggling.”
“There may be bad guys who want to cause damage personally or to some of our world leaders,” Khan told The Associated Press. “So we’re working extremely hard – police, security services and many others – to make sure this state funeral is as successful as possible.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Metropolitan Police Stuart Cundy said the “extremely complex” policing operation was the largest in the history of the London force, surpassing the 2012 London Olympics.
More than 10,000 policemen will be on duty on Monday, with London preferences supplemented by reinforcements from all 43 British police forces. Hundreds of volunteer police and members of the armed forces will also act as administrators along the route.
They are just the most visible part of the security operation being run from a high-tech control center near Lambeth Bridge, not far from Parliament.
Street drains and trash cans are being searched and sealed. On Monday, there will be spotty police on rooftops, street sniffers, coast guard on the Thames and mounted police on horseback.
Drones flying over central London have been temporarily banned and Heathrow Airport is suspending flights so aircraft noise does not disturb funeral services.
Authorities face the challenge of keeping 500 world leaders safe, without fiddling with diplomacy too much. The president, prime minister and royal family will gather outside before being taken by bus to the monastery – although an exception is being made for US President Joe Biden, who is expected to arrive in a van. His armored limousine, called The Beast.
Another challenge is the sheer size of the crowds expected to gather around Westminster Abbey and along the route the coffins will take after the funeral, past Buckingham Palace to Hyde Park. From there, it will be taken by hearse about 20 miles (32 km) to Windsor, where another 2,000 police officers will be on duty.
The Queen will be interred in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle alongside her husband Prince Philip, who passed away last year aged 99.
Police are deploying more than 22 miles (36 km) of barricades in central London for crowd control, and transit bosses are bracing for packed stations, buses and subways as 1 million people spilled into the ceremonial heart of London. The subway will run later than usual and train companies are adding extra services to help people get home.
While many will mourn the queen, support for the monarchy is far from universal. Police have been criticized for arresting several organizers of peaceful protests during events related to the queen’s death and the enthronement of King Charles III.
Cundy said it made it clear to officers that “everyone has the right to protest.”
“Our response here in London will be proportionate, it will be balanced, and officers will only act when it is absolutely necessary,” he said.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said the goal was to keep the event safe, “and try to make it as unobtrusive as possible, because it’s clearly a formal occasion.”
Westminster Dean David Hoyle, who will conduct the funeral service in the 900-year-old convent, said preparations were going smoothly – despite occasional security-related hiccups.
“There was a great moment when I had florists waiting in the convent, and there were no flowers, because, quite rightly, the police didn’t recognize where the truck was and the flowers were sent back,” he said. speak.
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