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The Queen’s death: 3 memorable ways Perth & Kinross, Angus, Dundee and Fife communities paid tribute

From a 32-strong mounted guard to a piping head teacher, the Queen's death and funeral cortege almost a year ago will live long in the memory.

Horse riders gather with Emma Cheape to see the Queen's cortege at the side of the M90  Image: Emma Cheape.
Horse riders gather with Emma Cheape to see the Queen's cortege at the side of the M90 Image: Emma Cheape.

On September 11, a stunning horse-guard of 32 riders lined the M90 to honour the Queen’s cortege as it passed by.

The young woman who organised it, Emma Cheape, had not anticipated the amazing response from her fellow equestrians.

“It was such a small gesture in my mind,” Emma said.

With the location of their farm near Glenfarg, they had a view of the cortege passing by. So she made a post on Facebook inviting anyone else who wanted to join her.

The response she got was huge.

Emma organised a 32-strong horse guard to honour the Queen’s cortege in 2022. Emma alongside horse Billy. Image: Emma Cheape.

“Obviously the Queen was, and her family are, massive equestrians,” Emma said, “it was nice that others agreed it was a way we could show our respects.”

Emma, 28, had expected a handful of riders to show up.

What she wasn’t expecting was 32 riders and their horses, plus another 50-100 people on foot.

“When we all got to the field, there was nervous excitement,” she said. “None of us really knew what to expect. We were obviously all there for the same reason.

“Then we started to hear the helicopters overhead, and it was like an eerie feeling. My stomach felt funny, that butterfly way.

“The field fell completely silent.

“Nobody thought about saying a thing. Amazingly, the horses completely froze – they stood still for about forty minutes and didn’t move.

“When she passed, none of us really knew what to do. There was silence while we were in our own thoughts.

“It was amazing, but a very strange feeling.”

The horse guard as the royal cortege passed by on the M90 near Glenfarg
The horse guard as the royal cortege passed by on the M90 near Glenfarg.

Afterwards, Emma said she “had messages from around the world.”

She was interviewed by press worldwide, including live on an Australian news channel.

“My Facebook inbox was absolutely piled full of messages from people who I didn’t know and I had no connection with at all, but they just wanted to say thank you because they couldn’t do it themselves.

“It took a long time for it to actually soak in; what had happened and how well it had been received by others.

“It was just a genuine gesture to friends to join us, and I never really thought of it as any more than come along with us and stand by.

“But what we did meant so much to so many people.”

Cowdenbeath head teacher piped the Queen’s coffin into Westminster

While his pupils watched the Queen’s funeral at home on television, head teacher Stephen Ross was part of the historic moment.

He was one of the pipers who led Elizabeth II’s coffin in the procession to her funeral service at Westminster Abbey.

Beath High School rector Mr Ross is a former army reservist and, having learned the bagpipes in the Boys’ Brigade in Troon, has piped around the world with the Royal Air Force Pipes and Drums.

Rector Stephen Ross at Beath High School. Image: Kenny Smith.

As a result, he was invited to be part of the RAF’s massed pipes and drums for her funeral on September 19 last year.

He was given leave from school by Fife Council to prepare for and perform the duty.

“We had a rigorous week of rehearsals, staying at an army camp just outside London – a ‘gated and dry’ camp, meaning you weren’t able to leave, and no alcohol for the week!

“The week was like going back to living as a young squaddie again: 12-man rooms and shared facilities, old-fashioned army cook house (great food, though!) and lots of noise everywhere as brass bands were billeted with us as well as many pipe bands.”

Then came the day itself.

Pipers got kitted in what is known as their ‘Number Ones’ – full Highland dress – and boarded busses for central London shortly after midnight.

But Mr Ross had a secret addition to his outfit.

He revealed: “I made sure that Beath was represented that day – I was wearing my #teamBeath t-shirt underneath my military jacket!

“It was a strange feeling – London was very quiet as most of the streets we were in were closed off to the public.

“Everywhere you looked there were military personnel dressed in their most formal of uniforms – it could have been from the 19th Century, with all the horses and regalia on show.”

He said: “The sound from that size of band, marching along those famous streets in a quiet and hushed London was incredible – it was a real privilege and honour to be a part of that.”

The reporter who joined Kingsway crowds for the Queen’s funeral cortege

Cheryl Peebles will never forget the final journey of Queen Elizabeth II through Dundee – this time in a hearse, her coffin draped with the Royal Standard.

Thousands of people gathered along the Kingsway to see her funeral cortege on its way south from Balmoral.

“I was there to work – part of a large Courier team recording the historic moment – but felt the weight of the emotion as heavily as everyone else there to pay their respects.

“The sombre occasion was a day of happiness as well as sadness – the passing of Her Majesty’s hearse preceded by not quite a party atmosphere but certainly a spirited gathering.”

People started gathering along the Kingsway in the late morning of that sunny September, many on the grass embankment where Cheryl had stationed herself.

The Workmans and McLennans, from Auchterarder and St Cyrus, dressed up for the occasion. Pictured are Richard Workman with dog ToTo, Melanie Workman (left) and her sister Andrea McLennan with kids Ava, Harriet, and Ella McLennan. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

“Some wore black, some dressed up and many brought Union Jack flags.

“I chatted with an army veteran, proudly wearing his beret and his own and his father’s medals, whose voice broke as he spoke fondly of his old “boss”.

Harry Gerrard, from Dundee, met his ‘boss’, Queen Elizabeth II, several times during his service with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

Cheryl said it was warming to see.

“People whiled away the early afternoon swapping memories of her reign as they shared flasks of tea and nibbled on picnics.

“And they shared their tales, opinions and fondness for the long-serving monarch with those around them – people they had never met but chatted with like old friends.

“There were smiles and laughter as people kept an eye on their watches and checked social media for updates on the cortege’s progress.”

Strangers whiled away the afternoon, swapping memories of the late Queen. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

Then as a helicopter circled overhead anticipation mounted, Cheryl remembered.

“The sound of cheerful chatter gave way to silence as police motorbikes rolled into view, followed by the hearse.

“Then applause broke out.

“I had a lump in my throat and a tingle down my spine – a feeling I’m sure I shared with almost everyone around me.”