The Queen's Coffin Was Transported on a 123-Year-Old Gun Carriage

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Queen Elizabeth's coffin was transported from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey today on top of the 123-year, 5600-pound Royal Navy State Funeral Gun Carriage. The converted ordinance transport first appeared at a royal funeral when it was used to transport Queen Victoria's coffin in February 1901. It was subsequently used to carry the coffins of King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI, Winston Churchill, and Lord Mountbatten.

Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images

The carriage was pulled by a 98 members of the Sovereign Guard and followed by 40 additional Guards who acted as brake. The tradition of using guards to pull the carriage began at Queen Victoria's service, it is believed, when concern were raised that horses would be spooked by the crowds and topple the coffin.

The carriage, which was built at Royal Gun Factory at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, never saw service in a military action and was converted in 1896. A raised platform was added and the wheels were covered with rubber. When not in use at state funerals, the carriage is kept in a climate-controlled room at HMS Excellent, a training facility on Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbor.

Photo credit: Fox Photos - Getty Images
Photo credit: Fox Photos - Getty Images

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