The State Gun Carriage carries the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign's orb and sceptre, in the Ceremonial Procession following her State Funeral at Westminster Abbey, in London on September 19, 2022. (Photo by Zac Goodwin / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ZAC GOODWIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Queen Elizabeth's Final Hearse Has Literally Zero Horsepower
One of the fascinating components of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral was how the monarch's coffin was placed on a royal gun carriage and pulled to Westminster Abbey, the country's main cathedral. The carriage is a unique part of British state funerals and has been involved in the send-offs of several of the queen's predecessors.
When used in wartime, the gun carriage would have had a cannon strapped to it and been pulled by a pair of horses. Instead, for Her Majesty’s funeral, personnel from the Royal Navy pulled the unique hearse through the streets of London; horses weren’t used for fear they could potentially topple the carriage if spooked.
Officially referred to as the "State Gun Carriage," it never saw battle but was modified before Queen Victoria’s funeral with a rubber coating for the wheels and a raised platform to accommodate the royal coffin. Since then, it's been used in the funerals of King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI, Winston Churchill, and Lord Louis Mountbatten.
The carriage weighs 2.5 tons, and for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, 142 sailors from the Royal Navy split into two teams to guide the carriage through the streets of London. One group was placed in front to pull the vehicle forward, while the other team followed and acted as a brake; each team had a set of improvised ropes that they pulled in unison (via the BBC).
As effective as the Royal Navy is, its sailors are only human, and it would be unreasonable to expect them to drag a gun carriage more than 20 miles from London to Windsor. So for the trip's final leg, the royal coffin was transported in a modified Jaguar XF sedan altered to specs made by the late Queen herself, including a raised glass roof and oversized windows.