Proud part for Weymouth standard bearer in Queen's funeralPaul Cooper carried the national standard for the Merchant Navy Association and was among 72 Royal British Legion (RBL) standard bearers hand selected to march behind the coffin of the monarch on September 19.Mr Cooper, 63, of Weymouth, is vice chairman of the Weymouth Portland and District Branch of the association.He said: "It was really moving and an honour and a pleasure to be there. I had a phone call asking me to take part the week before and I said 'yes' straight away”."The atmosphere when the coffin came along through Whitehall was totally silent. You couldn't hear anything but the beat of a drum and pairs of boots hitting the floor. There was the occasional ripple of applause but you could really hear a pin drop with the silence."Early in the morning on the day of the funeral the standard bearers gathered on the Embankment and waited in a ministry building. They marched down the Embankment to Whitehall and then to the Cenotaph.Mr Cooper lowered his standard for the late Queen as her coffin, on a gun carriage, passed the Cenotaph.He said: "The coffin came within 10ft of me. I had my head bowed and as the Royal family and everyone else passed by, all I could see was boots going past us."Mr Cooper was chosen for the prestigious role in the funeral through his work with the Ministry of Defence on the Lulworth Ranges.The retired diving instructor spent much of his life living in Littlebredy and and used to run his own charter boat in Weymouth.He is currently commodore of the Royal Dorset Yacht Club in Weymouth and is regularly involved in the local Remembrance Day service and Veterans' Day parades.Friends and family have shown much interest in his role in the funeral, Mr Cooper said."Some people think it's amazing. I spent a lot of time in London for the funeral as we had rehearsals as well and the funeral itself was a long day with us getting up at 4am. Many of the standard bearers got to know each other and we have our own WhatsApp chat group. There were some standard bearers there from different parts of the Commonwealth, including one from Kenya."In recognition of his role at the momentous occasion, Mr Cooper received a certificate from the RBL, which was presented by the board of trustees.
Paul Cooper, in the white hat, in the role of standard bearer at the Queen's funeral. Picture reproduced courtesy of the RBL