The Royal Salute

I am making a break with tradition on this occasion and I am going to tell a tale which one of my colleagues witnessed many years ago.

Prince Phillip was visiting the Potteries on the day in question and was due to visit some premises to officially open them. Nearby was a Primary School and all the children were duly brought from the school, clutching little Union Jacks, and gathered on the pavement in rather a disorderly manner. The Senior Police Officer on duty was well known for liking a bit of pomp and ceremony and he decided that he would “tidy” the children and teachers up a little. He got them all lined up in ascending height order in nice neat rows so they looked smart and could all get a good view of what was going on.

He then had a cunning plan to let the children know when the Prince arrived. The children were given a demonstration of a Salute and he told them that he would salute when the prince arrived. On that cue all the children were to wave their little flags and cheer as loud as they could.

Everyone settled down to await the arrival of Prince Phillip. After a few minutes what should come into view but a Funeral Cortege complete with coffin bearing hearse. Our Senior Officer, being a great traditionalist must have momentarily forgotten about the children and as the hearse passed him he duly threw up a magnificent salute (in those days policemen were expected to salute coffin bearing hearses) The children, much to his embarrassment did exactly what they had been told and erupted into a cheering flag waving throng.

I am told that the faces of the people in the funeral cars had to be seen to be believed.