Sailors who played a historic role in Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral service have been honoured by King Charles III at a ceremony at Windsor Castle.
About 150 Royal Navy men and women received the Royal Victorian Order medal during an outdoor service on Tuesday.
Recipients included the naval personnel who pulled the queen's coffin in the procession on a 123-year-old gun carriage using ropes – a tradition dating back to the funeral of Queen Victoria.
The sailors all played a key role in the high-profile funeral, where any mistake would have been spotted and transmitted around the world in seconds.
The striking sight of the sailors in their distinctive uniforms with blue and white collars and white caps, marching in unison and acting as the Sovereign's Guard, was one of the defining images of the funeral.
King Charles personally presented the medals in recognition of the duties carried out in tribute to his late mother.
Medical Assistant Paisley Chambers-Smith was awarded a silver Royal Victorian Medal for pulling the gun carriage with her colleagues.
“It's not something I imagined doing so soon in my career. The training was so hard but worth it, and on the day, it was a massive honour to be there,” she said.
Her partner Royal Marine Sgt Stephen Leonard was also on duty, a member of the street-lining party standing in Parliament Square when the coffin passed.
“[It was] massive to be there,” Ms Chambers-Smith said. “Pride took over when you walk through the streets of London and just knowing that you're there and a part of history forever.”
Commenting on her brief chat with the king, she said: “He was asking how the training was for the funeral, which was hard – it was tough and the new boots hurt your feet.”
Ms Chambers-Smith, who is pregnant, said the king also “asked when the baby was due and how it was, standing in the heat”.
In the bright summer sun, six ratings were helped off the parade ground after apparently fainting – but at least two returned to receive their meals.
Warrant Officer Class One Eddie Wearing, the state ceremonial training officer for the Royal Navy who masterminded planning for the funeral, was made a member of the Royal Victorian Order.
“Everybody was recalled and the training commenced. We had 10 days from start to finish to get everybody in uniform and trained at the right level for the funeral on the 10th day,” WO1 Wearing said.
“It's something from a command perspective we had rehearsed … it's just getting the people ready and that's what takes the time, but I personally think we're absolutely on point.”
The Royal Naval personnel were appointed to the Royal Victorian Order by King Charles in March as part of the Demise Honours list, which is traditionally published following the death of a monarch to recognise those who have provided personal service to the late sovereign.
Joined by a military band, they paraded into Windsor Castle's quadrangle via the George IV Gate, and on to the quadrangle where the king took a royal salute.
The monarch, joined by the First Sea Lord, presented each recipient with their medal individually.
Royal Victorian Order honours are in the king's personal gift, bestowed independently of Downing Street, and are awarded for service to the British royal family.
The late queen's funeral on September 19 and preceding lying-in-state cost the UK government an estimated £161.7 million, figures have shown.
The largest cost was reported by the Home Office at £73.7 million, followed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (£57.4 million) and the Ministry of Defence (£2.9 million).2023-05-30T12:59:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd