Ring of steel around Her Majesty: Police snipers line Edinburgh rooftops as thousands await arrival of Queen’s coffin while elite SAS troops and 10,000 cops prepare for single biggest security operation EVER during state funeral in London
- Thousands of well-wishers are awaiting the arrival of the late monarch’s oak coffin in Edinburgh
- Police snipers are lining the rooftops as officers prepare for the biggest security operation in British history
- Police and intelligence teams are understood to have cancelled holiday as part of a cross-agency task
- The operation will ramp up throughout the week as the Queen’s body is flown back to London
- It is the first time special forces teams including SAS units are expected to be pre-deployed to bases in London on a heightened state of alert in case of any potential attacks
- Full coverage: Click here to see all our coverage of the Queen’s passing
Police snipers are lining the rooftops in Edinburgh as officers prepare for the biggest security operation in British history ahead of the Queen’s funeral.
Thousands of well-wishers are awaiting the arrival of the late monarch’s oak coffin – which left her beloved Balmoral Castle today, beginning a six-hour journey through Scottish towns to the Scottish capital.
The queen’s coffin will take a circuitous journey back to Edinburgh. On Monday, it will be taken from Holyroodhouse to nearby St. Giles’ Cathedral, where it will remain until Tuesday, when it will be flown to London.
The coffin will be moved from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to the Houses of Parliament to lie in state until a state funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 19.
Today, heavily armed police and security services formed rings of steel outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse and St Giles’ Cathedral – as up to 10,000 officers prepare to be involved in the biggest single security operation the country has ever seen.
Specialist police teams and intelligence officers are understood to have cancelled holiday leave as part of a massive, cross-agency security task for the Queen’s funeral.
Hundreds of foreign dignitaries from across the globe and hundreds of thousands of mourners anticipated in the capital are set to create an unprecedented ‘security headache’.
The operation will ramp up throughout the week as the Queen’s body is flown back to London before she is set to lie in state at the Palace of Westminster.
It is the first time special forces teams including SAS units are expected to be pre-deployed to bases in London on a heightened state of alert in case of any potential attacks.
Snipers are pictured on the roof of a building by the Palace of Holyroodhouse, in Edinburgh on September 11
A police sniper is pictured prior to the arrival of the hearse carrying the coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II at St Giles Cathedral, on the Royal Mile, in Edinburgh today
Police snipers are lining the rooftops in Edinburgh today as officers prepare for the biggest security operation in British history ahead of the Queen’s funeral
The Lord Lyon King of Arms reads a public Proclamation to the people of Scotland to announce the Accession of King Charles III, outside St Giles’ Cathedral
Pictured: Outside St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh today. Thousands of well-wishers are awaiting the arrival of the late monarch’s oak coffin – which left her beloved Balmoral Castle today beginning a six-hour journey through Scottish towns to the Scottish capital
Police officers with sniper rifles stand on the roof of the St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh on September 11
Police Firearms officers keep watch while they await the coffin carrying Queen Elizabeth II from Balmoral to Edinburgh on September 11
Road closures and exclusion zones will be increased across the capital with blocks already in place around Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Police have also been granted a no-fly zone order over London on the planned day of the funeral on Monday September 19, which will follow 10 days of mourning.
As well as thousands of uniformed Metropolitan Police bobbies drafted into action, plain-clothes officers will also mingle among crowds to monitor any threats.
It is expected that other forces will be asked to provide officers under ‘mutual aid’.
On Friday police snipers were spotted on the roof of Buckingham Palace with guns trained on the crowds as King Charles greeted people outside after returning from Balmoral.
Sir Mark Rowley, who is due to officially start in his role as Scotland Yard commissioner on Monday, has been across the strategic plans in the days since the Queen’s death.
As the lead agency the Met will be in ‘gold command’ control for the funeral, which is run from its Lambeth police HQ hub.
Police teams will also be tasked with monitoring any fixated individuals who travel to London during the period of mourning with officers assigned to follow them.
At the same time intelligence services, including signals monitoring agency GCHQ, domestic security service MI5 and the foreign service MI6, will heighten monitoring of potential threats including terror networks, ‘lone wolf’ suspects and activist groups.
Police officers stand guard at Balmoral Castle after funeral cortege carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II leaves before arriving at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on September 11
Police and security personnel prepare for the arrival of the hearse carrying the body of Britain’s late Queen Elizabeth II from Balmoral
Special police patrol prior to the arrival of the hearse carrying the coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II at St Giles Cathedral
A procession leaves after a public Proclamation to the people of Scotland to announce the Accession of King Charles III, outside St Giles Cathedral
Guards take position during the Proclamation Ceremony of Britain’s King Charles outside St Giles Cathedral
Philip Ingram, a former military intelligence officer, said: ‘It’s one of the biggest security headaches for the UK because of the nature of the event, widely publicised days in advance and just about every world leader possible coming into London.
‘GCHQ with allied spy agencies will be making sure they are tuned into any particular threat, MI5 and MI6 will be looking to international organisations that they cooperate with.
‘It will attract everyone from across the globe and those that will potentially want to disrupt it – terrorists, hostile intelligence agencies.
‘Even Vladimir Putin would love this to go wrong with the UK’s support for Ukraine, or whether it’s animal rights protesters – it will attract every level of threat but the security services will be working very hard to mitigate any of these threats.’
In June vegan activists from Animal Rebellion attempted to disrupt the Trooping of the Colour ceremony by lying down in front of the procession.
Foreign dignitaries at a heightened security risk will also be assigned police or intelligence service liaisons to ensure their safety when travelling to London.
It is understood Foreign Office officials are expecting an ‘unprecedented’ number of dignitaries, other countries’ royals and heads of state to travel to Britain for the funeral.
President Joe Biden has indicated he is planning to attend the funeral but invitations are yet to be formally sent for the service at Westminster Abbey, which holds a congregation of 2,000.
Sir Paul Stephenson, former Met Police commissioner, said: ‘Yes it’s a big challenge but I’ve not the slightest doubt that Mark [Rowley], like the rest of the Met, will be up for it.
‘It’s not only a once in a lifetime event such as the Queen’s funeral but you’ve got many dignitaries from around the world and the security challenges that brings.
‘The Met is well practised in doing huge events for a long time and I’m quite sure they will be up to it.
‘It will take huge resources to ensure the event is carried out with a sense of enormous dignity and without any interference whatsoever.’
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