Police chiefs say their operation for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will be the biggest ever, with more than 10,000 officers on duty determined to thwart any attempt to disrupt or exploit the event.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line the funeral route through central London, and then in Windsor, Berkshire, where the late Queen will be buried, and the route in between.
The Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner Stuart Cundy said commanders had plans in place to thwart or deal with any attempted attack or disruption.
About 300 foreign dignitaries are expected, triggering the biggest personal protection operation undertaken by the Met.
Cundy said the “scale and complexity” of policing the funeral was immense, with officers being drafted in from forces around the country so the Met can manage the funeral and other demands across the capital.
Cundy said: “This will be on Monday the biggest single deployment of police officers in an operation that the Met police has ever undertaken.”
He added: “As a single event this is larger than the 2012 Olympics, it is larger than the platinum jubilee weekend.”
He declined to give a figure, but in a separate interview the Met commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said more officers would be involved in policing the day of the funeral than make up England’s second-largest force, West Midlands police, which numbers 7,579 officers.
Rowley said: “The number of officers deployed is heading to a point where it will be well beyond the total size of a force like West Midlands or Greater Manchester – it will be heading into the high numbers of thousands of officers deployed.”
For the London 2012 Olympics, figures from police chiefs show, about 9,500 officers were deployed in the capital alone. For the Queen’s funeral, the Met and the Thames Valley force are both making their biggest ever deployment on a single day, knowing any alleged errors would lead to damaging criticism at a time of national mourning.
Cundy said plans for such big events were always evolving, and the stabbing attack on two officers on Friday morning would be taken into account. “So whilst the stabbing of the two officers in central London we do not believe to be either terror related or related to events surrounding the death of Her Majesty the Queen, we will be reflecting on that, we will be looking at our policing plans.”
He added: “It brings into sharp focus the need for all officers who are on duty, the members of the public … to keep that vigilance..”
Cundy said there would not be a ban on protest, and every officer policing in the London area had been reminded of the right to do so. “We have ensured that all of our officers … all those colleagues that are deployed here in London, understand that people have a right to protest. Our response will be proportionate, it will be balanced, and our officers will only be taking action where it is absolutely necessary.”
Tim De Meyer, the assistant chief constable of Thames Valley police, which covers Windsor, said officers would use their judgment. “We known that we have to balance the right to freedom of expression with public safety … We will be eager to ensure that we balance those two things and that we preserve the dignity of the event.”
De Meyer said people in Windsor would need to go through airport-style security measures, and 2,000 officers would be in the town.
Cundy said flying drones would be banned in London and already 11 people had been spoken to for operating them. In all, 34 arrests had so far been made, but none by the Met for protest.
Cundy said commanders had planned how to stop and respond to any attempt to attack the funeral, or what to do if the numbers of people present spilled over into a dangerous crush. “Our contingency planning considers a while range of different scenarios, which includes everything from terrorist attacks, to criminal activity to crowd surges, crushing …”
In charge as gold commander is the deputy assistant commissioner Jane Connors, a Met high flyer and public order specialist. Earlier this year she oversaw the Met investigation into Partygate.
Police said that in central London alone, 22 miles of barriers would be used to help marshal the crowds, with officers on the ground supported by helicopters and commanders monitoring and directing the security operation from a hi-tech control room.