To Prepare for Queen's Funeral, Soldiers Throw Flowers at Horses

Horses must be ready for anything during Wednesday's procession, Monday's parade
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2022 1:58 AM CDT
Updated Sep 14, 2022 4:06 AM CDT
To Prepare for Procession, Soldiers Are Throwing Flowers at Horses
Guards march during a rehearsal for Queen Elizabeth II procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall in London, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Queen Elizabeth's coffin arrived at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday it will be taken from there to the Houses of Parliament to lie in state for four days at Westminster Hall before Monday's funeral at Westminster Abbey. To prepare for the procession from the palace, British soldiers held a rehearsal in the wee hours of Tuesday in which they pretended to weep while throwing flowers and flags at the horses that will be pulling the coffin, the Telegraph reports. A sergeant says they expose the horses to other loud noises, including "aggressive" noises and loud banging on drums, in an effort to prepare them for anything. Particularly calm horses have been chosen for the job.

And their training didn't just start after Elizabeth's death: "We try to do it regularly, like once every couple of months with the horses. They’ve always been constantly exposed to it so it’s never an imminent surprise," he says, adding that one of the hardest things for the horses is walking at the slow pace (75 beats per minute) that is required. An 18-year-old horse that also participated in Margaret Thatcher's funeral in 2013 is retiring after this parade, the sergeant adds. Wednesday's procession starts at 2:22pm local time and ends at 3pm. The Guardian says the actual funeral parade, which will feature 4,500 members of the military Monday, "will be the biggest parade of its kind in living memory." (More Queen Elizabeth II stories.)

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