Fight against IS: Queen pallbearers return to Iraq

Under the gaze of millions of people, eight soldiers from the Queen's Company carried the 230-kilo coffin of Queen Elizabeth II through London.

Fight against IS: Queen pallbearers return to Iraq

Under the gaze of millions of people, eight soldiers from the Queen's Company carried the 230-kilo coffin of Queen Elizabeth II through London. The Order of the British Empire beckons them for their commitment. But first they have to go back to Iraq.

Just ten days ago they carried the coffin of the late Queen Elizabeth II from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch and at the funeral service in Windsor. Now the eight young British soldiers have to pack their things. Because in a few days they will fly back to Iraq, where they are currently stationed in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

As "The Express" reports, the soldiers belong to the Queen's Company, the Grenadier Guards of the 1st Battalion. They protect an air base in northern Iraq from which both British and US special forces conduct deep infiltration operations in Iraq and Syria. They also train Iraqi security forces. They were flown to the UK specifically for the Queen's state funeral.

The Queen's Company gets the tallest and brightest members of each new regiment. The youngest of the pallbearers is just 19 years old. They are "first and foremost fighting soldiers," quoted "The Express" as a high-ranking but unnamed source within the army. But it is "this sharp contrast that the men find so attractive. If they only performed ceremonial tasks, I think it would lose its luster."

Out of twelve Grenadiers who stood for selection, eight were finally chosen for the last honors. Company Sergeant Major Dean Jones was allowed to make the decision. He has served in the British Army for 19 years and has served twice each in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Jones was instrumental in bringing them together. He's a humble man but brilliant," said the anonymous source of the soldier standing at the front left of the coffin.

According to reports, the pallbearers were only informed about their assignment in London shortly before departure. After landing, they had barely six hours to get their hair cut before beginning rehearsals. It is said that they shouldn't have told their families about it either. They only found out about it from the media when they saw snapshots of the rehearsals.

Not only are the relatives proud, the soldiers have also made an impression on many politicians, military personnel and celebrities - after all, they had to lift a coffin weighing up to 230 kilos on their shoulders. Demands are now being made to appoint the pallbearers to be members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). That wouldn't be unusual. This honor was bestowed on the pallbearers of the late Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965.

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