A horse known as a “gentle giant” is to take part in the funeral procession of the Queen. Apollo the Drum Horse will be ridden by Lance Corporal Chris Diggle from the Band of the Household Cavalry.
The nine-year-old horse stands at over 17 hands (1.73 metres) tall and weighs in at nearly 800 kilograms. He is described as a “big friendly giant” who “loves attention”.
Lance Corporal Diggle will ride Apollo with reins attached to his feet as his hands will be holding solid silver drums in just one of the details so important to get right today.
The Lance Corporal said: “He’s a big lad, gentle giant that he is, but he does have his quirks – he can be naughty like most horses but he is lovely on the whole.”
He added: "He is really gentle, he is the most placid horse and that’s why he is on today because he is so well behaved. Apollo and I will be just in front of the gun carriage and we will be just behind the first division Blues and Royals. We follow the Blues and Royals making sure the pace is steady for the carriage.”
“We won’t be beating the drum today, the sombre occasion … will mean no music for us. We will have the drums and will go out with absolutely everything, but no playing today.
“The reins are attached through my stirrups which I have my legs in and because I usually have sticks in my hand (to beat the drum). I have to control the horse with my legs and steer it that way.”
Drum Horses of the Household Cavalry carry the rank of major and as such are senior to all other animals of rank in the army.
Apollo joined the Queen's Household Cavalry in 2020. He is being paraded two years after he enlisted – usually it takes three years for horses to train for this role.
Lance Corporal Diggle said: “Some take longer than others and get on with it really well. It’s because of all the kit that they carry and the drums banging, some get through quicker, and some of it’s just a lot slower for them.”
Drum Horses belong to the sovereign and permissions must be sought from the monarch for their tails and mane to be clipped.
The Queen was invited to name Apollo after this year’s Trooping of the Colour, though she deferred the offer to the Silver Stick in Waiting, Colonel Mark Berry.
In a ceremony befitting her historic 70 year reign on the throne, the Queen’s four day lying-in-state will come to an end, as the doors of Westminster Palace close to the public ahead of her state funeral procession on Monday 19 September morning.
Around 2,000 guests are expected to attend the Westminster Abbey service to bid her farewell, with tens of thousands of mourners also expected to line the streets of central London as they witness the historic and poignant funeral procession that will see the monarch's final journey.
Following the service in London, the Queen’s coffin will be transported to Windsor, where a private ceremony will take place before she is interred alongside her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh.
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