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Scottish sailor will guard the Queen at her funeral just as his grandfather did at her coronation

Scottish sailor will guard the Queen at her funeral just as his grandfather did at her coronation
15 September 2022
Murray Kerr’s grandfather guarded the Queen at her coronation – now 69 years on the Scottish sailor will do the same at Her Majesty’s funeral.

The 20-year-old from Ayr will be part of the Royal Navy ceremonial guard which will line the streets of London as Her Majesty is laid to rest on Monday.

As soon as Able Seaman Murray was activated for duty at the funeral, he was on the phone to his 92-year-old grandfather, John Kerr, a former Scots Guard who was a street liner on The Mall for the coronation.

“My grandad has always spoken with pride about his time in the Guards, but the one thing, whenever I mention anything ceremonial, was about being at the Queen’s coronation. That was a defining part of his life, not just his career,” Murray said.

“It is do the best you can. Look impeccable. Go out and perform and show up and show out. That was it. My grandad said, ‘do this and you’ll remember it for the rest of your life’.

“He has always been a role model for me. He carried everything he learned in the Guards into his civilian life. He still polishes his shoes. Irons all of his clothes. Everything is neat. Everything is pressed.

“A lot of that discipline has fallen onto my father and myself. My father joined the Fire Service. There’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. These two great services that moulded them, has moulded me.

It’s huge for me. To be here and doing what we’re doing for someone that I’ve respected and admired my entire life.

Able Seaman Murray Kerr

“All these things have come down to me being on parade on Monday for the Queen’s funeral, with the aim of being the smartest and best group that lines the streets. That’s what I want for my team. That’s what all of us want.

“We want to be there for Her Majesty. We’re not doing this for anyone else. We are not doing this for us or our families. I would even go as far to say that I’m not doing this for the navy, I’m not doing this just because the navy’s asked me to. I think if I hadn’t been activated, I would have found a way to be there for Her Majesty. That’s the mentality of all of us.”

His grandfather, who lives in Irvine, North Ayrshire, was on National Service with the Scots Guards in 1953 and was part of the coronation procession that took place through London. He was one of 16,000 participants on the 7.2km route.

Now Murray – a trainee seaman specialist in the Royal Navy based at HMS Collingwood in Hampshire – will do the same as one of more than a thousand sailors and Royal Marines playing a pivotal role in the funeral.

He and his comrades are completing intensive ceremonial training to be ready for Monday when the Royal Navy will pull the State Ceremonial Gun Carriage bearing the Queen’s coffin on a two-mile route. It is a duty they have performed since the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901.

Murray himself will be a street liner on the route of the procession through the capital.

“It’s huge for me. To be here and doing what we’re doing for someone that I’ve respected and admired my entire life,” he said.

“I’ve grown up in a royalist household, showing me the monarchy and this is what they do for us. I’ve had a great respect for the Royals my entire life. Her Majesty even more so because of everything she experienced during her life and everything she gave for us.

“This is the last opportunity for us to give something back. This is huge for me personally and feel very privileged. I feel a massive sense of duty to do this to the best of my ability.”

Murray spoke to his grandfather at length, giving him perspective as he goes into a momentous day for him personally and, of course, for the nation.

“He was telling me all about it. He said there was nothing he wished he’d done differently because of the way everything turned out,” he said.

“He never thought he should have moved his foot another half inch to the left when he stood at ease, there was no ‘I wish I held my rifle a little bit straighter’. There is none of this 70 years later. There is the memory of him being part of the biggest ceremonial event of the time.

“That’s what he said to try and remember. You won’t look back in 20 or 30 years and think ‘if only I polished my left boot so it matched the right a bit better’. You will always remember how you felt and what you saw. Who you were with.

“When you see that guard of honour, the carriage crew and Her Majesty’s coffin not 20ft away. To be part of the ceremonial team that is part of this great procession. That’s what will be remembered.

“You sweat the small stuff beforehand but once you’re out there, you polish your boots, your brass, everything to the nth degree. Your uniform is pressed infinitely. As soon as you march out the gates as part of your half company, all that matters is that you’re there and you do the best that you can.

“The history books will say the ‘Royal Navy lined the streets as The Queen was taken into Westminster Abbey for her funeral’.”

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