A royal risk. Troops were warned to take precautions so they wouldn’t collapse during Queen Elizabeth II‘s funeral — but the solution wasn’t foolproof.
The monarch, who died earlier this month at age 96, was laid to rest on Monday, September 19, first being honored with a procession from Westminster Hall to London’s Westminster Abbey. Before the hour-long ceremony at the historic chapel, military members were reportedly instructed to ingest one packet of salt each day for a week. They were also encouraged to add extra salt to their food to increase their electrolyte intake.
Despite their best efforts, two of the nearly 6,000 U.K. Armed Forces personnel participating in the funeral proceedings fainted on Monday while making their way to Windsor Castle after the Westminster Abbey service.
Days before the funeral, a royal guard passed out while watching over the queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall, where it laid in state. The incident was caught on a livestream on Wednesday, September 14, as mourners waited to pay their final respects to the longest-reigning British monarch. As security stood protectively near the casket, one guard was seen swaying back and forth before falling to the ground. Officials rushed to his aid and the broadcast cut out.
Later that same day, the queen’s cousin Lady Gabriella Windsor also appeared to faint while visiting Elizabeth’s coffin. Her husband, Thomas Kingston, tried to help her get back on her feet after she collapsed.
Elizabeth’s funeral was attended by her four children — King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — whom she shared with the late Prince Philip. The foursome marched behind their mother’s casket as it traveled from Westminster Hall via gun carriage. Prince William and Prince Harry also participated in the procession, with the latter of the queen’s grandchildren wearing a morning suit instead of his military uniform.
As the service came to an end, the royal family and other attendees exited Westminster Abbey as Elizabeth’s coffin was loaded onto a hearse. As troops lifted it into the waiting car, Charles, 73, and William, 40, were seen saluting the casket. Meanwhile, Harry, 38, did not offer the same gesture.
The Duke of Sussex lost his honorary military titles when he and Meghan Markle chose to step down from their senior royal duties in 2020. Ahead of the funeral, Buckingham Palace announced that Andrew, 62, would be granted an exception to don his uniform during a vigil in his late mother’s honor despite also being stripped of his military titles amid his sexual assault lawsuit. Harry was not immediately given the same permission.
“[Prince Harry] will wear a morning suit throughout events honoring his grandmother. His decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears and we respectfully ask that focus remain on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” a statement from Harry’s spokesperson read days before the palace backtracked its decision.
The Archewell cofounder, who served in Afghanistan in 2007, sported his official uniform on Saturday, September 17, while standing guard over Elizabeth’s coffin with his older brother and their cousins. For Monday’s funeral, Harry simply had his medals pinned to the lapels of his jacket.