Watch CBS News

London police stabbed amid dauntingly complex security operation for Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral

London's mammoth security operation
Queen's funeral brings London a complex security challenge 01:52

London  —Thousands of people from across the world are set to arrive in the United Kingdom to attend Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral service on Monday. The guest list for the service includes around 500 foreign dignitaries, including about 100 heads of state. As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams reports, that makes it a massive security challenge. 

The U.K. has plenty of experience organizing elaborate public events, from the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997, to the royal weddings of her children that have come since.

All those events have required meticulous preparation. But this is different. The queen's funeral is reportedly bringing with it the most complex security operation London has ever undertaken.

Police officers mingle with members of the public waiting on Lambeth Bridge as they line up to pay their respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II, in London, September 15, 2022. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty

Around 10,000 police officers and 1,500 military personnel have already been deployed, including armed police, which is more unusual in the U.K. as most police don't carry guns. Police snipers have been spotted on rooftops in the capital, keeping careful watch over the big crowds already gathering to pay their respects to the late monarch.

The funeral will be held at the ancient Westminster Abbey in the heart of London. Britain's capital is full of historic buildings and narrow, irregular streets. Compared to the tidy grid of Manhattan or even the broad avenues of Washington D.C., London can feel like a tricky maze to navigate, even without the massive crowds currently swelling its population.

Westminster Abbey sits directly across the street from the British Houses of Parliament, just down the road from the prime minister's residence, Number 10 Downing Street, and only a stone's throw from London's crowded shopping and entertainment district, the West End.

On Friday morning, two police officers were stabbed and hospitalized in the bustling district.

London Metropolitan Police vehicles are seen on a street corner in central London, September 16, 2022, after two officers were stabbed and hospitalized amid a massive security operation in the British capital ahead of Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral.   Reuters

London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised the police officers for "doing their duty and assisting the public at this momentous time for our country." He said neither officer sustained life-threatening injuries, and the incident was not considered terrorism-related.

But the violence did highlight the tense security situation as President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden, along with scores of other leaders, prepare to attend the queen's funeral on Monday.

They will join the crowned royalty from other European nations, the Japanese emperor, and of course the other members of Britain's own royal family.

One British official likened the logistics around the queen's funeral to organizing 100 official state visits, all at the same time.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.