'My last duty for the Queen' - Chipping Norton ex-serviceman will be standard-bearer at the Queen's funeral
The Chipping Norton Royal British Legion (RBL) member and former RAF corporal says it will be ‘My final duty for the Queen’ as he raises the standard at the Cenotaph.
Mr Andrews will be put up in central London from tonight (Tuesday) until after next Monday’s funeral as he and hundreds of other ex-servicemen and women and serving personnel perfect the biggest Royal event in living memory.
He was a RAF corporal and weapons engineer in the RAF for 16 years until 2013 and has been a committee member of the RBL’s Chipping Norton branch for nine years – acting as its standard bearer.
Since Friday, following the Queen’s death last Thursday, members of the branch have mounted a guard of honour at Chipping Norton Town Hall, where the British Legion is running a Book of Condolences.
Mr Andrews said he expects to be rehearsing in his place on the city route during the night times.
“I have a feeling rehearsal will be at night time as well as in the day. I will be along the route - I think at the Cenotaph. There will be 75 of us British Legion representatives from around the UK and abroad.
"It will take a week to perfect because with the military it has to be perfect. We have to be able to do our duty without being told - to perform it and know exactly what we have to do and when. It must be second nature so nothing goes wrong at all,” he said.
“The funeral is at 11am and will finish at 12pm; then the coffin will be drawn from Westminster Abbey in a gun carriage to a hearse which will take her to Windsor. The gun carriage will go past us at the Cenotaph.”
Mr Andrews, who will be in uniform bearing his medals, said he expected to be in place by 8am on Monday and will be standing from then on.
"It is nerve racking but we have the easy job comparing to the military who have guns and have to hold them in place. There is no standing guns on the ground. We'll get plenty of inspections by the military to ensure we look up to standard.
"I see this as my last duty to the Queen - it is a big honour. That final duty was going to be running the book of condolence in Chipping Norton but then I was asked to do this and it was an honour to accept,” he said.
Mr Andrews’ wife, Hayley, and son Tristan, 15, will be down in London the night before and will get up at 3am to be able to stand opposite him.
Mr Andrews’ duties include leading the Armistice Day parade and holding the standard in church for the last post. He has taken part in the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on three occasions.
He also went to Ypres as a standard bearer for the 90th anniversary of the 1928 Great Pilgrimage when the RBL took 11,000 WW1 veterans and war widows visit the battlefields.
Mr Andrews will return on Tuesday after an evening ‘decompressing’ with his colleagues.