Guides at State Funeral: ‘How we kept our Promise to Queen to the end’
They promised to do their duty to God and the Queen – and kept that Promise right up to the moments before Her late Majesty was laid to rest following her State Funeral.
A party of Guiding leaders from the Skegness area travelled down to London on Monday to witness the sombre pomp and pageantry of the final journey of their Patron, who as a young princess had also been a member of the movement.
Unable to get to a viewing area for the processional route to Westminster Abbey, they initially joined thousands of people at the big screens in Hyde Park to watch the funeral, which was attended by around 2,000 heads of state, dignitaries, presidents, European royals, and other key figures as well as the Queen’s family.
Sarah Ellis – District Commissioner for Burgh Skegness and Spilsby as well 1st Spilsby leader and Divisional Commissioner for South Holland –described the scene: “Thousands of people have come to ;pay their respects.
"We have heard pipers and there are many veterans and forces personnel here. There is a quiet, respectful dignified feeling to London.”
However, the moment they will cherish forever was outside Hyde Park as they witnessed Queen Elizabeth 11 on her journey ‘home’ to her resting place at the King George VI memorial chapel – an annex to the main chapel at Windsor Castle, where her mother and father were buried, along with the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.
There, unlike at Prince Philip’s funeral, in death she will not be alone – her beloved husband’s coffin being moved from the Royal Vault to the memorial chapel to join the Queen’s.
Sarah recalled standing in the crowds at Hyde Park as the cortege including the state hearse and the coffin of the Queen passed by.
Sharing the experience was her son Harry, a 6th Boston Scout, 1st Spilsby Guide Leader and ex-RAF Diane Wilson-Dakin and 1st Spilsby Ranger and Guide leader Clare Parish.
Clare’s ex-Army husband Dale travelled down in his uniform to pay his respects, along with their children Jess, a former 1st Spilsby Rainbow, Brownie, Guide and Ranger, and son Jack, a 6th Skegness Sea Scout.
The solemnity of the procession to the funeral at Westminster Abbey changed to a celebration of Her Majesty’s life and dedication to guiding and local guiding party along with others in the crowd cheered as the state hearse passed by.
“It has been a very surreal experience full of mixed emotions,” said Sarah. "It was a celebration of life as the hearse and the cars passed and the crowd clapped and cheered.
"We could clearly see the coffin, the Crown and the Royal Orb and Sceptre.
"We stayed at our place at the barriers and then saw the King’s Troop and the Royal Horse Artillary – it was an amazing sight.”
Earlier in the week members of the guiding units paid their own tributes with trips to the royal Sandringham Estate and Green Park in London to lay floral tributes – as well as tealight reflections at their meetings.
A last minute visit to London was particularly memorable for one 1st Spilsby member called Vivienna. Her mum told Sarah Ellis: “While paying our respects we saw the Queen Consort, President of the US Joe Biden and our new PM Liz Truss.”
Sarah ended: “We all feel the loss of the Queen in different ways. Diane and I made the trip to Sandringham to be part of the celebration of the life of the Queen.
"I have previously seen the Queen twice at Sandringham at the New Year service and so thought it would be the most appropriate place to payt our respects locally.”
Queen Elizabeth II was Patron of the Guirl Guides from 1953 until her death. As well as being Patron, she was a Guide, Ranger and loved guiding.
The Queen was aged 11 when she became a Guide in 1937. According to the Girl Guiding website, a Guide leader called Miss V M Synge was invited to Buckingham Palace where she met Princess Elizabeth, her sister Princess Margaret and 14 of their cousins and friends.
Together they started 1st Buckingham Palace Guides, using a summerhouse in the garden as their base. They did everything an ordinary Guide unit would do, including hiking, making campfires, learning first aid and going on scavenger hunts.
In 1942, during World War II, the Guide unit moved to Windsor Castle. Elizabeth, who was Patrol Leader of Swallows, kept guiding and helping with the war effort. And when the princess turned 17, she joined Sea Rangers and became Chief Ranger of the British Empire in 1946.
The Queen’s involvement with guiding didn’t stop there. On 13 July 1947, the International Scout and Guide Folk Dance Festival took place. Two hundred Guides who had done the Queen’s Guide Award took part in a march-past in the Mall at Buckingham Palace. Princess Elizabeth joined them to take the salute, the first public duty she did following her engagement.
Even though the Queen didn’t take on a leadership role after being a Ranger, her relationship with guiding continued. When she married Prince Philip in 1947, aged 21, two of her bridesmaids were former Buckingham Palace Guides and the ingredients for the wedding cake were provided by the Australian Guides.
She became Patron in 1953, the year after she took the throne. From 29 July to 7 August 1957, 4,000 Guides from 70 different countries went to the Windsor World Camp. The Queen, who let the organisers hold the camp in the Great Park, one of the Royal Parks, visited the camp too.
Since then, the Guiding movement has been at the Queen's side, mentioning her in the Promise and celebrating her jubilees.