Moving scenes were broadcast to the world on Monday 19th September, as the State Funeral of Her Majesty The Queen at Westminster Abbey took place. The military played a key role in the funeral. Thousands of military personnel from the UK and Commonwealth took centre-stage that day to pay their respects and undertake ceremonial duties. Following tradition from centuries before.
The Queen had a close personal relationship with service personnel throughout her reign. She was Head of the Armed Forces and was known as ‘the boss.’ Throughout she championed the Army, Navy and Air Force, with a great empathy for the challenges faced by the Forces community; being the wife, mother and grandmother of individuals who served in the Forces. Her lifelong relationship with the Armed Forces beginning, of course, when she served in the 2nd world war in 1945 as a mechanic.
The armed forces key role in the Queen’s funeral
In total, around 4,000 military personnel were on parade during her funeral, including Commonwealth personnel. Their presence interwoven reassuringly throughout the day. Roles included taking the Queen’s coffin from the Palace of Westminster on the Royal Navy’s State Gun Carriage and the Last Post (a short military fanfare) as sounded by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry before the two-minute silence was observed throughout the United Kingdom.
Combined Cadet Force (CCF)
Preserving military tradition, the majority of boarding schools and many state schools, offer the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). The CCF is split into the three sections: Army, Navy and Air Force. Each section provides pupils with the opportunity to gain life skills such as leadership, responsibility, self reliance and teamwork through challenging and exciting military-based training and parades. CCF typically takes place once a week but cadets also go on three training weekends each year and longer camps are held in the summer holidays. The CCF isn’t about recruiting for the Armed Forces. It’s more about a new experience and helping the students reach their full potential at school and beyond. Also arming them with formal qualifications within their particular specialism.
Pangbourne College, although it originally trained boys to become Merchant Navy officers alongside an academic education, is no longer a military school; but is one of the boarding schools that offers the CCF initiative. And still pays tribute to its naval roots through traditions such as wearing naval uniform to school, focus on rowing and sailing and use of naval jargon such as ‘cabins’ for dorm rooms. The College was therefore greatly honoured, alongside other independents Wilson’s, Dulwich College, Winchester and City of London to be invited to take part in Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s State Funeral. The Head Boy and Girl at Pangbourne, accompanied by School Staff Instructor, Mr Andrew Davison, escorted the coffin to Wellington Arch before it made its final journey to Windsor. A fitting tribute to the head of the Armed Forces.