LONDON – Earlier this week saw HM Queen Elizabeth II transported back to London via the Royal Air Force’s C17 Globemaster aircraft. Why was this the aircraft of choice?
ZZ177, the C17 in question, operated KRF01R to RAF Northolt from Edinburgh Airport, with the Scottish airport suspending operations as a result of this special flight.
Anti-Royalists believe that the use of the C17 may have been overkill, despite it being just the coffin that was being transported, but there is more than meets the eye on this one.
C17 = The Queen’s Choice…
Pete Morgan, a Staff Officer in the UK’s armed forces, gave some of his own insight into why the C17 was to be used for this flight, with his involvement in this pretty evident.
He said the following: “I never met HM The Queen, but when I was a staff officer in 2009, I was tasked with reviewing and rewriting the Operation Overstudy plans, which detail how we would repatriate her body if she died overseas”.
“The existing plan was for her to be transported back in a BAe 146, a smart business jet operated by 32 The Royal Squadron. However, the repatriation of Princess Diana in 1997 had not gone smoothly due to difficulties in loading the coffin into the freight bay”.
“Subsequent modifications to the aircraft had made access to the freight bay almost impossible”.
“With a requirement for the aircraft to be able to land at RAF Northolt, the only two options were to use a C130 or C17.”
“The C130 was noisy and would impact the ceremonial aspects of her arrival at RAF Northolt, whereas the C17 was quieter and was, sadly, very familiar with the repatriation role from undertaking the repatriation of service personnel who had died in Afghanistan”.
“A dress rehearsal at RAF Northolt provided that it would work, but the impact of changing from a smart-looking business jet to a more utilitarian C17 was fairly significant, and so approval from the Palace for the change to our plans was sought.”
“The response that came back from HM The Queen was: ‘If it’s good enough for my boys, then it’s good enough for me”.
As mentioned by Morgan, Operation Overstudy is a plan that is in place in case the head of state dies overseas and how repatriation of the body would commence.
With HM Queen Elizabeth II now at rest, this operation will now cover King Charles III in the event that he doesn’t die within the Royal grounds in London.
Either way, the story from Morgan highlights exactly the level of pride that the Queen has taken in her 70 years of work, and this will not become a missed story for the masses.
King Charles III will no doubt continue this tradition that his mother has set, and with the very well-planned logistics that have come out of this event, it’s safe to say everything is covered.