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Queen Elizabeth II: Widespread funeral security, experts say

London is seeing an unprecedented level of security as thousands of people wait in line to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II and many world leaders are expected to attend the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II. king on Monday.

Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on September 8 at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne, now rests in Parliament’s historic Westminster House, where her coffin will be kept until at her funeral at Westminster Abbey.

British media have reported that up to 750,000 people could come to London for state funerals, with an estimated 10,000 police officers on duty each day.

Will Geddes, international security expert and managing director of the International Corporate Protection Group in London, told CTVNews.ca in a phone call: “It’s the combination of the Olympics, all the weddings of The royal family that we had, all combined into one.” interview on Thursday.

SECURITY AND MILITARY

The main plans for the Queen’s death are outlined in a scheme codenamed Operation London Bridge.

Another set of protocols codenamed Operation Unicorn came into effect because the Queen died in Scotland, specifically at her private residence at Balmoral Castle. The codenames Feather and Marquee are also being used to refer to the Queen’s stewardship in state at Westminster Hall.

“This has been done almost daily for the last four or five decades,” said royal security expert Ken Wharfe, a former bodyguard for Prince William and Harry and personal protection officer for their mother Diana , Princess of Wales, told CTV’s Your. Thursday morning. “So that gives you some idea of ​​what this isn’t just something picked out of the box.”

Wharfe said from a policy standpoint, the cost of security, including for the Royal Family, was always a “top issue.”

“But for things like this, there can’t be a cost of protection because the risk is huge, and I think the government understands that, I think the vast majority of people understand that,” he said.

The experts CTVNews.ca spoke to described the security presence as a mix of uniformed police, military and private security, more discrete elements like snipers on the roof, the Specialists involved in bomb disposal and standby military aircraft, and covert units such as plainclothes officers.

Philip Ingram, a former colonel with the British Military Intelligence Service, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Thursday: “The whole purpose behind security is that security is more fragmented. the better”.

“It blends in with the whole event and isn’t something that’s going to reduce the ability of people to access the general atmosphere and get as close as possible to the parade and everything else that’s going on.”

He said other agencies involved in the ongoing operations would likely include the UK’s domestic and foreign intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6, the Government Communications Headquarters, the National Crime Agency, and the UK’s National Crime Agency. intelligence agencies, counterterrorism police, liaisons from the private sector and leaders abroad, and intelligence gathered from international partners such as the Five Eyes network, of which Canada is the member.

Along with the Metropolitan Police Service and officers from other forces in the UK, Geddes added that 1,500 military personnel are providing additional security, with various special forces operators. will be able to look for potential threats that are emerging and can be rapidly deployed and, if necessary, materialized.

On top of that, security officers will have access to surveillance tools like London’s extensive CCTV network, as well as technology and people specializing in facial recognition – the latter of which is sometimes called “meta-identifier”.

But unlike what’s shown in the film, security experts CTVNews.ca spoke to said the city’s CCTV network is not all connected centrally, with many cameras owned by businesses private or host business and is managed on independent servers.

WHAT IS RISK?

The events surrounding the Queen’s funeral are not only held in a relatively small area, but they are also widely publicized, with the sheer number of those expected to attend causing a flurry of events. risks, experts said.

Geddes pointed to the potential threat of Islamic extremism and the far right, while Ingram said so-called lone wolf terrorists may have an incentive to act and, to a lesser extent, terrorists. scam targeting tourists.

Both groups are cited as Extinction Rebellion, who may want to interrupt the proceedings to advance their cause, as well as discontent among the anti-monarchy.

Certain countries may also want to interrupt funerals, Ingram said, due to grievances from some countries about global events such as the war in Ukraine or the conflict in the South China Sea.

“There are countries that are likely to be interested or there will be more content if it doesn’t go as smoothly as one would expect,” Ingram said.

In the coming days, Ingram said he will monitor whether the UK’s national threat level changes.

The threat level was downgraded to “substantial” in February, meaning an attack was “probable.”

“If that goes up, that’s what’s publicly available, and that’s going to bring in even more terrible resources,” he said. “But if that increases, with the arrival of world leaders, that’s when I start to worry.”

Official documents obtained by Politico and other news outlets show that foreign heads of state and their spouses have been asked to arrive in the UK on commercial flights where possible, unused. helicopter to travel and attend funerals by bus.

Geddes said this is not the first time minibuses have been used for an event, pointing to Harry and Meghan’s wedding, and helping to control the path of various groups of guests.

And although there are also a limited number of runways for expected air traffic, Geddes describes the guidance around commercial flying as a “sober nod” for the more environmentally conscious. and expect most heads of state to fly privately.


With files from CTV News and Associated Press

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