The state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II at London’s Westminster Abbey on Monday will be the culmination of decades of meticulous planning.
Here is how the day will unfold:
– Return to the abbey –
The last time Westminster Abbey was used for a monarch’s funeral was for King George II in 1760.
Since then, the preferred church has been St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle but Elizabeth opted for a larger venue.
On the morning of the funeral, the lying in state – begun at Westminster Hall in parliament on Wednesday – will continue until 6:30 am (0530 GMT).
At 6:30 am, the doors will close in preparation for the transfer of the coffin to the nearby abbey.
– Gun carriage –
Shortly after 10:35 am, a bearer party will lift the coffin from the catafalque, a raised platform, and carry it to the state gun carriage which will be waiting outside the North Door of Westminster Hall.
The state gun carriage is a field gun carriage held by the Royal Navy since 1901, when it was withdrawn from active service for the funeral of Queen Victoria.
It was also used for the funerals of kings Edward VII, George V, the queen’s father George VI, wartime prime minister Winston Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was the last viceroy of British-ruled India.
It will be drawn by 142 junior enlisted sailors – naval ratings – rather than horses and will set off at 10:44 am.
The queen’s eldest son and successor, King Charles III, will lead members of the royal family walking behind the coffin to the West Gate of Westminster Abbey, arriving at 10:52 am.
The funeral, conducted by the Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby giving the sermon, will start at 11:00 am.
Towards the end of the service at around 11:55 am, the Last Post bugle call will sound, followed by a two-minute silence.
London Heathrow Airport said flights would be stopped into and out of the airport 15 minutes before and after the silence.
The service will close with the national anthem and a Lament, a musical expression of grief, at around noon.
– Major security operation –
Westminster Abbey can hold up to 2,200 people.
Those present in the congregation will include family members, Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss, senior politicians, former premiers, and more than 100 kings, queens and heads of states and other VIPs.
Invitations are expected to be sent to representatives of all countries with which Britain has diplomatic relations.
The palace has not released a formal guest list.
Russia and Belarus have not been invited because of the war in Ukraine, diplomatic sources said this week.
Military-run Myanmar and isolated North Korea have also not been invited, with no attendance either by representatives from Syria, Venezuela or Taliban-run Afghanistan.
– Journey to Windsor –
At 12:15 pm, the coffin will be drawn on the gun carriage, followed on foot by members of the royal family led by the king, to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner near Buckingham Palace, from where it will continue to Windsor by royal hearse.
The hearse will arrive at Windsor at 3:06 pm and make its way to the castle via the Long Walk avenue, again with flights stopped, as the castle is on the flight path into and out of Heathrow.
The king and senior members of the royal family will join the procession on foot from the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle at around 3:40 pm before the cortege halts at the chapel at 3:53 pm.
The televised committal service starts at 4:00 pm.
Monday’s committal service is expected to be attended by at least 800 people, most of whom will not have been at the abbey.
They will include past and present staff members who worked for the queen.
At the end of the service the coffin will be lowered into the Royal Vault as the queen’s piper plays a lament from the doorway and the Archbishop of Canterbury pronounces the blessing.
“God Save the King” will be sung and the service ends.
– Final resting place –
A private burial service will be held at 7:30 pm.
The queen’s final resting place will be the King George VI memorial chapel, which is an annexe to the main chapel, alongside her husband Prince Philip.
The queen’s mother and father – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the queen mother – were interred there with the ashes of her younger sister Princess Margaret.
JUST IN: Adeleke Dethrones Three Osun Monarchs, Suspends OSIEC Chair, Members
Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke has dethroned three monarchs appointed by his predecessor, Adegboyega Oyetola.
Former Governor Oyetola had appointed several monarch few weeks before handing over government to Adeleke.
These, including Akirun of Ikirun, Oba Yinusa Akadiri, Aree of Iree, Oba Ademola Oluponle and Oba Adegboyega Famodun.
The former governor also approved the appointment of 30 permanent secretaries into the various ministries.
However, Adeleke in statement signed by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed about 24 hours after inauguration, announced that the thrones of Akirun of Akirun, Aree of Iree and Owa of Igbajo remain unoccupied pending the outcome of a Committee of Inquiry to review their appointments and subsequent installations.
According to the statement, the six Executive Orders issued by the governor which borders on reversal of monarchs appointments, appointment and placement of civil servants, employment and freezing of government accounts have been signed this morning and take immediate effect.
“All appointments of traditional rulers made by Osun State Government after 17th July, 2022, are hereby ordered to be reviewed to ensure there was strict compliance with due process of chieftaincy declarations and native law, custom and tradition relating to such chieftaincies. In the case of Ikirun, Iree and Igbajo, to avoid further breakdown of law and order, the appointments of Akinrun of Ikinrun, Aree of Ire and Owa of Igbajo are hereby put on hold pending review. Subsequently, the palaces of Akinrun of Ikirun, Aree of Iree and Owa of Igbajo should remain unoccupied, while security agencies are hereby ordered to take charge.
“All employments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in all the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions , Boards and Parastatals after July 17th, 2022 be and are hereby nullified”, he said.
The Governor, according to the statement, also ordered the reversal of appointments into civil service and directed head of government agencies to embark on staff audit immediately.
“All Heads of Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions, Boards and Parastatals of Osun State Government are hereby directed to carry out an immediate staff audit of the actual number of government workers in their various Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions, Boards and Parastatals, as at 17th July, 2022, and should file a report to the Office of the Chief of Staff to the Governor stating the full details and position/designation of each of the staff on the forwarded list , within 7 working days from the date of this Executive order using the attached Oath of Fidelity Template.
“All appointments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in all the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions, Boards and Parastatals after 17th July, 2022 be and are hereby reversed”, the statement reads.
Similarly, a statement issued by the Secretary to the State Government, Teslim Igbalaye ordered the immediate suspension of Osun State Independent Electoral Commission, OSIEC.
It reads, “The Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke has directed the immediate suspension of the Chairman of the Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC), Mr. Segun Oladitan and the following members of the Commission; Mr. Yusuf Oyeniran, Alhaja Suibat Adubi, Prince Yinka Ajiboye, Mrs. Abosede Omibeku, Mr. Dosu Gidigbi and Mr. Wahab Adewoyin
“This suspension is sequel to several petitions bothering on financial impropriety, dereliction of duty, absenteeism and abuse of office against the said Chairman and members of the Commission.
“Pending the outcome of investigation into the allegations against the suspended Chairman and members of the Commission, the Secretary to the Commission shall hold forth in running the affairs of the Commission”.
Foreign Creditors May Seize Presidential Jets Over Accumulated Debts
…Aviation Experts React
Aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet are at the risk of being impounded by foreign creditors, according to The PUNCH.
Findings indicated that the PAF was indebted to several service providers for various upgrades carried out on the 10 aircraft in the fleet to meet the required airworthiness.
The PAF provides secure airlift to the President, the Vice-President, their immediate families and other top government officials.
However, due to inadequate funding, it was gathered that some installations on the aircraft had again been postponed to 2023.
The PAF Commander, Air Vice Marshal Abubakar Abdullahi, who stated these in his budget defence presentation at the National Assembly, also complained that only N1.5bn was allocated for the maintenance of the aircraft out of the proposed N4.5bn.
According to report, the budgetary allocation to the PAF had risen by 121 per cent in eight years.
Findings indicate that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had since 2016 allocated N81.80bn for the PAF maintenance and foreign trips.
The amount includes N62.47bn for the operation and maintenance of the PAF, N17.29bn for foreign and local trips, and N2.04bn earmarked for other related expenses.
The Presidency has maintained 10 aircraft since the inception of the Buhari regime in May 2015.
They are Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or NAF 001), one Gulfstream G550, one Gulfstream V (Gulfstream 500), two Falcons 7X, one Hawker Siddeley 4000, two AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters.
Though Buhari promised to reduce the size of the fleet as part of his pledge to cut the cost of governance, checks revealed that his regime had failed to live up to this promise.
However, the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), delivered the two AgustaWestland AW101 VIP helicopters in the presidential fleet to the Air Force.
But addressing the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence during the budget defence session, the fleet commander explained that the average age of the PAF aircraft was 11 years and in aviation, the cost of maintenance increases proportionally with the age of the aircraft.
Based on the fleet’s experience, Abdullahi explained that the cost of maintaining each aircraft was between $1.5m and $4.5m, depending on the level of maintenance due.
Additionally, the commander revealed that 2023, being an election year, would translate to more missions and spares’ requests for the aircraft due to increased usage.
He also told the lawmakers that the N250m approved for aviation fuel out of the requested N4bn was grossly inadequate; reminding them that aviation fuel, which sold at an average cost of N390 per litre in January, was now being dispensed at N915 per litre.
The fleet commander argued that the N8.072bn allocated for the fleet in the 2023 budget out of the proposed N15.5bn was inadequate to cater for the needs of the fleet.
He, therefore, pleaded for an upward review of the budget.
In the 2022 budget, the PAF proposed N19.4bn, but only N12.4bn was appropriated out of which N11.13bn (98.07 per cent of the total approval) had been released as of October.
Abdullahi stated, “It is pertinent for this honourable committee to note that for successive years, the fleet has been grossly underfunded, which has made it difficult to operate. From the fleet’s records, debts from preceding years are usually carried over into the following budget year and it is becoming a tradition.
“Permit me to also state that most of these debts are owed to service providers overseas. Considering that over 85 per cent of the fleet’s expenditure is forex transactions, the actual budget figure in dollar terms is further diminished.
“The fleet is currently indebted to some of its service providers due to insufficient funding from budgetary allocations and the situation makes it bad for planning. As stated earlier, we currently have to have some mandatory upgrades done on our aircraft so as to meet airworthiness requirements.”
Highlighting the aircraft upgrades that had been paused due to paucity of funds, the air vice marshal disclosed that two of the fleet’s Falcon 7X aircraft with registration number 5N-FGU and 5N-FGV were due for upholstery refurbishment to give the 11-year-old planes a new look.
Abdullahi added, “They are projected for refurbishment in their next maintenance due in December 2022 and July 2023, respectively, which will cost $2.5m each. Furthermore, the fleet’s personnel and aviation insurance premium for the year 2022 amounting to $5.1m is also due for renewal in February 2023. The fleet may not be able to fund these due to a shortfall in the budget.
“The consequences of underfunding the fleet could have adverse effects on safety operations. It may also lead to our nation being embarrassed in the international community either through seizure of the PAF aircraft at foreign airports or maintenance facilities. Moreover, other states may deny the PAF aircraft necessary over-flight permits for foreign missions.”
The senior air force officer noted that aircraft maintenance accounted for 46 per cent of the overall budget proposal and was integral to the overhead cost, adding that the shortfall in the overhead greatly affected aircraft maintenance activities in the fleet.
From the releases made so far, 14 capital projects out of 22 line items were said to have been completed 100 per cent, while the remaining eight are ongoing.
In its 2023 overhead estimates, the fleet plans to spend N1.5bn on aircraft maintenance; N256m on international travels; N200m on international transport and training; N96m on electricity; N160m on refreshment; N100m on maintenance of office and residential buildings; N28m on local travels; and N25m on local training, among others.
The fleet commander disclosed that some mandatory upgrades were carried out on credit based on the fleet’s longstanding relationships with the maintenance companies, while others have been moved to the 2023 budget.
He stated, “This committee may wish to note that the quality of aircraft maintenance conducted is directly proportional to flight safety and its critical importance cannot be emphasized.
“The fleet is mindful of the meagre financial resources in the face of competing national demands. Thus, be assured that this budget is on a need-only basis. Nonetheless, if the fleet is to meet up with its statutory obligation, there will be a need for the budget appropriation to be reviewed upward to meet PAF’s requirements.”
Aviation experts react
Commenting on the PAF’s indebtedness to foreign service providers, the Chief Executive Officer, Top Brass Aviation, Captain Roland Iyayi, said the presidential jets were seen as sovereign entities of Nigeria, noting that it would be difficult to seize them.
“I don’t know if that will be easy enough; if it was another asset of Nigeria, it is different, but a presidential jet; it’s like saying a country wants to seize the United States President’s aircraft over debt. It is considered an extension of the sovereignty of the state; so, that may not be as easy as it sounds,” he stated
Similarly, the Secretary-General Aviation Round Table, Olumide Ohunayo, said it would be difficult to seize the presidential jets because they were seen as diplomatic property.
He, however, noted that those who maintained the aircraft could refuse to release them if they were not paid for services rendered.
The aviation expert stated, “Aside that, you will need a top government official or the approval of the court where the aircraft has landed to remove the diplomatic immunity.
“In such a case, the government of the country where the aircraft has landed will be involved before a judgment can be taken. For a company to do that against Nigeria, it will also need the judgment of that country where the aircraft is. This cannot happen when the President or any government official is on a visit to another country. It can only happen when the aircraft is going for maintenance.”
Police React To Viral Video Of Alleged Terrorists In Lagos
The Lagos State police command has called on the man in a viral video alleging that he was attacked by armed terrorists in Lekki Lagos State to show up and assist in investigation into the matter.
A video of a young man who alleged that he was picked from Ikoyi roundabout in Lekki by terrorists in army camouflage had gone viral on social media.
But the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin said the command’s preliminary investigation revealed that the claims were false, urging the alleged victim to show up at the station.
In a series of tweets on his official handle, the PPRO said the command would leave no stone unturned while ensuring the safety of Lagos residents and visitors.
He wrote, “Preliminary investigations so far reveal that every claim in the video is false. While the investigation is ongoing, we encourage the man to show up to assist the Police with the investigation.
“In-depth investigation has commenced. The Command will leave no stone unturned towards ensuring the safety and security of all residents and visitors to Lagos State”.
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