Grangemouth’s George served at King’s funeral then Coronation

George Hannah
George Hannah

Exactly 60 years ago George Hannah watched as King George VI was prepared for burial.

The Grangemouth man served in the Scots Guards 2nd battalion and played an important role in the funeral of the king and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

He was awarded a Coronation medal in 1953 for his work and it is still displayed proudly in his home.

Mr Hannah (85), who also served in World War Two, receiving a Victory Medal, said: “I was stationed at Wellington Barracks, next to Buckingham Palace, and I was selected to be the valet of Colonel Cameron.

“Part of this role was making sure he, and other officers, were dressed correctly.”

After the death of King George in February 1952, his body lay in state at Westminster Abbey with all the battalions of guards taking turn watching over his body.

The Scots Guards were the last and, after Mr Hannah stood watch, he then witnessed the King’s body being prepared for burial from a balcony in the Abbey.

“I’m not sure if I was supposed to be watching but I did,’’ he said.

“On the day of the funeral it was my job to check over the uniforms of Colonel Cameron and the Duke of Gloucester and make sure they were properly dressed and their horses were prepared.

“It’s very important to be dressed exactly right, just a lanyard facing the wrong way is considered an insult.”

The award of his medal came after the funeral of King George and for carrying out similar duties at the coronation the following year.

Mr Hannah was conscripted to the Army aged 18 in 1945 and spent a total of nine years as a soldier, also serving in Malaya during the guerilla war between the Commonwealth forces and the Malayan Community Party.

He left when he was 28 to work in for British Railways and latterly Rohm & Hass in Grangemouth.

Married to Linda, who works at Beancross Primary, and father to Alexis and Laura, George says he will be watching proudly on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June.

“I think Queen Elizabeth has been a wonderful monarch and has dedicated her life to serving the people,’’ he said.

“When I first joined the Army, I used to see her and Margaret running about the grounds of Buckingham Palace - they were just girls then.

“Since then I have taken part in the Trooping of the Colours for the Queen’s birthday twice and I’ve been a guardsman at the palace many times, which is a difficult job, trying to keep a straight face as tourists try to make you laugh!”

The grandad of six added: “The Queen hasn’t had it easy. It’s difficult being born into the Monarchy and spending every minute in the public eye. I think she’s done a wonderful job over the past 60 years.”