Transporting and delivering in the thick of Operation London Bridge
6 July 2023
FCDO Services teams were heavily involved in Operation London Bridge in the run up to, and on the day of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
Over the two week mourning period, many people across the nation stopped to pay their heartfelt and deepest respect to the Late Queen. At the same time, the UK Government enacted Operation London Bridge, the funeral plan for the death of the Late Queen Elizabeth II.
During this period, a small team of dedicated and passionate staff from across FCDO Services made an extraordinary effort to ensure senior ministers, VIP visitors and government officials were able to continue their duties safely and securely without disruption.
Road closures and military rehearsals
As London prepared for the state funeral, security and policing was heightened. It was one of the largest security operations the city had seen.
With thousands of members of the public descended on the capital there was a greater than usual police presence, road closures, barriers and military rehearsals all taking place. As a result, access to key ministerial and government offices was more challenging.
Throughout all of this, our London Car Service continued to transport Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) ministers and senior officials, while our External Messengers ensured important classified documents and red boxes were delivered on time.
All services operated as and where needed, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Drivers supported FCDO colleagues in King Charles Street, as well as other civil service staff and volunteers in Downing Street and across Whitehall.
Enabling the Crisis Team
FCDO Services Hanslope Park Transport team is responsible for the daily delivery run that leaves Hanslope for London every morning.
This service provided a lifeline for the newly established FCDO Crisis Teams, which were quickly set up to respond to the operation.
Within hours of forming, the Crisis Team needed laptops, screens and other IT equipment to enable them to support the frontline delivery.
Our team responded swiftly by carrying out extra runs to deliver the necessary equipment as soon as possible. This included answering requests for equipment at 2pm and delivering them by 5pm the same day.
Increasing Wi-Fi coverage
A crucial requirement during Operation London Bridge was increasing Wi-Fi coverage to ensure connectivity.
Our Technology and Operations directorate were quick to respond, mobilising a team from Hanslope Park and dispatching them to London immediately.
With more people needing network access and the majority of devices connecting through Wi-Fi, additional access points and customer access support was compulsory.
With the importance of staying up to date with the news, working Wi-Fi became an even more critical part of the King Charles Street infrastructure during this time.
As well as providing additional Wi-Fi access points and customer support staff, we supplied extra televisions and digital signage. Keeping communications channels up and running during this time was critical.
Technical staff worked extended hours, from the day of Her Late Majesty’s passing up until the funeral service in order to support staff and government partners.
Our staff also volunteered in the FCDO’s Arrivals and Departures Hub for Operation London Bridge.
These volunteer teams included Airport Liaison Officers, working as part of a small team managing the arrival and departure arrangements of heads of state and government, as well as other senior foreign dignitaries, who attended the funeral.
The officers played a key role, acting as liaison points between the Arrivals and Departures Hub, the London Diplomatic missions and the airports.
Volunteers ensured that all the arrangements were in place to facilitate the smooth travel and movement of dignitaries.
On the same day as the Royal funeral, our newly instated Foreign Secretary, The Rt Hon James Cleverly, flew to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.
Our Logistics team ensured he and his office were supported with the transfer of important documents and items for the event. This involved getting through road closures and heavy London traffic to the airport and onto the tarmac on time.
The result of this tremendous effort from all those involved from FCDO Services meant that FCDO and One HMG teams in London were able to efficiently carry out their support for Operation London Bridge. It also meant ministers got to where they needed to be without disruption to the important work they do.
It’s a privilege and an honour to work as part of this team. All in all, the Logistics and FCDO Services Operations departments do commendable work that supports the most vital national projects. Without their experience, expertise and professionalism, the smooth preparations and running of this vital and historic event would have been much more challenging to deliver for the front line staff.”
Head of Classified Services, FCDO Services