Telent’s Royal Funeral role to ensure smooth operations

On September 8th 2022, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away at Balmoral Castle. The Queen’s funeral was set to take place on Monday 19th September at Westminster Abbey, with the nation observing 11 full days of mourning and the chance for people to pay their respects. Preparations for such a significant event took priority over current projects and staff from all departments came together to ensure all aspects of the event were covered.

Operation London Bridge was the official name for the plan in place for the Queen’s funeral. The plan covered each stage of the mourning process from the announcement of death to Her Majesty’s interment in The King George VI Memorial Chapel. Although the plan has been in place for over 60 years, it has been continuously revised and altered.

During the 11 full days of national mourning and State Funeral preparation, it was anticipated that hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe would travel to London for the funeral. Airports, train stations, and the streets of London were expected to be packed, increasing the need for security, emergency services and media.

The Challenge

Transport for London (TfL) awarded Telent this contract as part of the overall TCMS2 contract, and worked alongside the MoD, Cabinet Office, Royal Parks, Westminster City Council, Metropolitan Police, and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Telent has worked with a number of these companies previously.

In the early hours of the morning during the 10 day run-up to the funeral, Telent was responsible for the removal of traffic signals to support the rehearsals and movements of the Military and enable the media to finalise the best views and vantage points for streaming the news coverage to the millions watching at home. These poles were then required to be re-installed before normal business hours to ensure Transport for London could ‘keep London moving’. This involved the removal and re-installation of c.500 signal poles.

Similarly, having hundreds of thousands of people all in one place is an immediate security and safety risk. By removing these poles, it eliminates the opportunity for individuals to climb up them in an attempt to gain a better view of the proceedings. The requirement to separate the public and those playing a part in the day’s functionality was paramount.

A number of the traffic signal poles are frequently removed in support of events held in St James Park, Whitehall and Parliament Square, such as Trooping the Colour, Remembrance Sunday, and the London Marathon. These traffic signal poles have been upgraded to a plugged and socketed solution to allow easier removal and re-installation however, given the scale of Her Majesty’s funeral, a large number of poles identified for removal had not undergone this modernisation and were still hard wired into the signal head and introduced a level of risk to tight timeframes for activities to be completed in an already complex event.

The Solution

Members of the Telent team came together at short notice to ensure that the day was carried out successfully, respectfully, and safely.

The c.175 poles were removed and reinstalled multiple times, in order to prioritise the safety of every individual in the area and to provide a clear route for Military movements as well as provide a clearer view of road.

Due to our longstanding relationship with The Royal Parks and in front of the world’s media, Telent were able to remove numerous traffic signal poles outside of Buckingham Palace and along the Mall within a 24 hour period.

Parliament Square signals were also removed and reinstalled three times for the short notice rehearsals leading up to the 19th September. This required the team’s full cooperation and commitment as they completed the first rehearsal on a Monday night and were back again to do it over the following Tuesday morning, and then another on the Tuesday evening for the first official Ceremonial move on the Wednesday.

Telent deployed operational resources drawn from its own TCMS2 staff, staff from other TSM contracts across the UK and trusted supply chain partners. The pooling of resource allowed the team to deal with the nature of the short working window and the responsibility of such an important event.

Significant liaison and collaboration with all client organisations were required to ensure that everybody was well informed of the functions and plans for the day, leaving no room for confusion or miscommunication.

The strict requirements of needing to be on and off-site in as short time as possible due to the hard deadlines for rehearsal activities and other preparations was respected and carefully followed by the team.

The team worked tirelessly around the clock to make sure every aspect of the preparations was taken care of. This included completing works by 03:30AM at Hyde Park Corner to allow for the security sweep to take place. Telent completed the works to the deadlines, despite having to overcome the challenges of losing time, as a result of delays by the police being able to enforce the road closures. This was due to VIP and military movements, which resulted in restricting the team’s access. Telent’s contribution at such short notice did not go unnoticed.

Carl Eddleston - Director of Network Management and Resilience, TfL

“I just wanted to put on record what a great job Telent did for London during Operation London Bridge. The signal removals on this scale and scope were central to ensuring everything was delivered as planned. Thank you for everything you did and the personal commitment demonstrated”

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