Dawn rehearsal for State Procession
Published 01/06/2012 | 08:02
Hundreds of soldiers have ridden on horseback through the deserted streets of London at dawn to rehearse the State Procession for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
While most of the capital was still sleeping, members of the Armed Forces performed a full dress rehearsal ahead of the spectacle on Tuesday.
With the sun barely risen, members of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment rode from the Palace of Westminster along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, then through Admiralty Arch and along the Mall to Buckingham Palace.
The route was lined with personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, Foot Guards and Massed Bands of the Household Division, the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment and the Queen's Colour Squadron of the Royal Air Force.
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery simulated firing a 60-gun salute on Horse Guards Parade as some 2,000 servicemen and women took part in the rehearsal.
The 1902 state landau carriage, which will transport the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh from a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday and was used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding day, followed behind the mounted regiment, but remained empty.
On Tuesday thousands of flag-waving well-wishers will wait hours to see the procession, but on Friday the only audience members were a few early joggers.
Next week the arrival of the mounted regiment will be greeted by deafening cheers, but this morning's eerie silence was broken only by the sound of horse's hooves and barked instructions to the path liners.
Speaking after the rehearsal, Warrant Officer 1 Paul Barker, state ceremonial training officer for the Royal Navy, said he was delighted by how well it had gone:"It went very well this morning. We are at the right stage that we need to be at, we don't want to peak too early but it's everything I expected them to achieve.
"On Tuesday there will be a mixture of nerves and pride; this is a one-off event, it's not going to happen again in our lifetime and it will give us lots and lots of memories for the future. We have lots of pep talks with our sailors and it's nice to see young sailors in naval uniform on the streets of the capital."