Six hours without bending your knees: The grueling schedule that led to guard fainting near Queen's coffin
LONDON, ENGLAND: Thousands of mourners who queued up to pay last respects to Queen Elizabeth II were left shocked when they witnessed a royal guard fainting at West Minister palace hall while holding vigil on the podium next to the Queen's coffin on Wednesday, September 14.
The live-streamed shocker has since brought to light the brutal schedule royal guards have to follow. The schedule, which includes standing upright for six hours in total, seemed to take a toll on the guard, who fainted near the Queen’s coffin.
The incident happened right after the queen’s coffin traveled to the Palace of Westminister from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, September 14 afternoon. As officers rushed to help the guard who fell with a thud, other guards who were religiously committed to their duties didn’t even look surprised or worried.
While it is still unclear if the guard suffered any injury, the incident left the audience shocked nevertheless. After the clip of the incident went viral on the internet, several social media users shared their concerns for the guard and hoped for a change in the system, including reduced shift hours.
Meanwhile, the incident has left royal well-wishers with a number of questions, including what is the exact schedule of the royal guards and if they get any breaks at all during their duty time.
There has been a lot of pressure placed on the shoulders of royal guards since the Queen’s coffin traveled to Westminister Hall. With thousands of mourners queuing up to pay their last respects, the servicemen are required to remain still at the podium to keep an eye over the Queen’s coffin from all four corners. Their rigorous schedule includes standing by the coffin for six hours in total and rotating every 20 minutes around the coffin.
One of the Queen's bodyguards holding vigil over the Queen has fainted during a change of the guard. pic.twitter.com/1yh5GrAfKj— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) September 14, 2022
To prevent fainting, it is necessary for an average human being to bend their knees and boost the blood flow in the legs’ muscles but for the servicemen guarding the Queen’s coffin, this is not an option. They must adhere to the strict rules regardless of the very real risks of locked knees and other health hazards.
Servicemen who guard the Queen’s casket are soldiers taken from units like the Sovereign’s Bodyguard and the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London. Guards are present at all times of the day because the lying in state is 24 hours a day, so that the public may pay their respects to the late monarch.
Speaking about the experience, Anne, from Wales, said, "First and foremost we want to pay our respects to Her Majesty the Sovereign who spent 70 years of her life dedicating a life to this country. She was just a remarkable steadfast lady. She never let anybody down. She was always punctual, always had time for everybody; particularly when she came to Aberfan."