Queen’s funeral latest: Queue entry paused for ‘at least six hours’ as mourners fill Southwark Park

Veteran ‘blown away’ by funeral invite

A veteran made an MBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours said getting a call inviting him to the monarch’s funeral sparked a “special feeling”.

Robert Lodge, of Weeley Heath in Essex, said a “lady from the Cabinet Office rang me and explained that they wanted some recent recipients of the MBE to attend”.

“In an instant the answer was yes, of course,” the 71-year-old said.

“That’s a special feeling to get that invite.”

Mr Lodge, who joined the Army as an 18-year-old gunner and rose to the rank of captain in 27 years of service, was honoured for his work with the Red Cypher charity.

The charity supports past and present members of 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and is so named because “our cap badge is a royal cypher with a red backing”, Mr Lodge said.

Mr Lodge met the Queen in Germany in 1984 when she visited a gunner parade in Dortmund.

“She was friendly, straight-talking as everyone knows her to be and a wonderful person,” he said.

“When I joined the Army in 1969 as an 18-year-old, you swear allegiance to the Queen or the Crown and her successors, and when you do that you start to understand what it is you’re getting involved in.

“The Queen was our captain general and King Charles will be our captain general on and on.”

Mr Lodge said he was “very sad” when he learned about the Queen’s death.

“When I was invited to the funeral, it’s a duty and I feel privileged, and, ‘Why me?’, but absolutely blown away with the fact I’ve been invited,” he said.

Mr Lodge said he has been asked to attend Westminster Abbey on Monday morning.

“It’s an honour and a privilege,” he said.

“I just feel very humbled.

“This year, MBE, Queen dying, being invited to her funeral… it’s all a bit surreal, really.

“But looking at the pictures on the television and all the people I speak to, there’s an outpouring of grief.

“It’s just amazing.

“Only this country would produce the standard of organisation and pageantry that we’re seeing on the television.

“Absolutely amazing, outstanding, all the people involved with it.

“Never forget it.”

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