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Queen approved plane to transport coffin with stirring words, says Mike Tindall

Zara Tindall and Mike Tindall pay their respects after the service and procession for the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II into Westminster Hall, London, where it will lie in state ahead of her funeral (Chris Furlong/PA)
Zara Tindall and Mike Tindall pay their respects after the service and procession for the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II into Westminster Hall, London, where it will lie in state ahead of her funeral (Chris Furlong/PA)

Mike Tindall has claimed the Queen approved a plane, that repatriated the bodies of British soldiers, to transport her coffin with the words: “If it’s good enough for my boys, it’s good enough for me.”

The former England rugby star, who is married to the late Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall, described how the aircraft, due to fly the Queen from Edinburgh to London after her death, was substituted for a larger RAF aircraft to enable a more “dignified” ceremony.

Mr Tindall said he could not verify the story, sent to him by an “ex-army friend”, and it appears the claims have been shared on social media after apparently being written by Pete Bond who says he was tasked, when a staff officer in 2009, with reviewing plans for the movement of the Queen’s coffin if she died overseas.

Queen Elizabeth II funeral
Zara Tindall (right), Mike Tindall (centre) and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, the husband of Princess Beatrice, following the Queen’s State Funeral (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The former sportsman told the story during a special edition of The Good, The Bad & The Rugby podcast he co-hosts and when asked about the experience of the past few weeks replied: “It’s been sad, emotional but happy.”

Mr Tindall, who has not served in the forces, also defended himself after facing criticism for wearing medals during events around the funeral and appealed to the public not to “shout” at him on social media.

Recounting the story about the transport aircraft he added: “It wasn’t the original plane picked and they had to change it and they went for this big old plane to make it more dignified.”

The Queen’s coffin was flown from Edinburgh airport to RAF Northolt in West London on a RAF Globemaster C-17 aircraft, accompanied by the Princess Royal, ahead of her state funeral.

Mr Bond reportedly wrote a BAE 146 business jet was due to transport the Queen, but access to its freight bay was difficult and it was substituted for the larger C-17.

Platinum Jubilee
Mike Tindall with wife Zara who he says was deeply upset by the death of her grandmother (Toby Melville/PA)

Concluding the story, Mr Tindall claimed the Queen signed off the change of aircraft, used to repatriate the bodies of military personnel from Afghanistan, with the words “If it’s good enough for my boys, it’s good enough for me.”

He added: “And that in itself just sort of sums it up.”

A senior RAF source said: “Extensive and comprehensive planning was conducted by the military for the demise of Her Majesty the Queen. The most appropriate assets were used throughout the operation.”

Asked to comment on the Queen’s death and her funeral the former rugby star replied: “In some ways amazing, in other ways to see the family come so close together – overnight. You never predict it, obviously (with) a 96-year-old lady, you know at some point it’s going to happen but you’re never ready for when it does.”

He added “I’m not a direct family member in terms of blood but watching what my wife Zara had to go through, obviously she loved the Queen beyond everything else.”

Queen Elizabeth II death
The Queen’s grandchildren mounted a vigil around her coffin as she lay in state at Westminster Hall (Chris Jackson/PA)

The Rugby World Cup winner also spoke about his regrets saying he wished he had quizzed the Queen about the history she had witnessed.

He said: “But I also have loads of regrets, and loads of regrets about not asking her so many more things. Having nervousness when you have that lucky seat of being sat next to her.”

Mr Tindall wore his MBE insignia alongside his Diamond and Platinum Jubilee medals, awarded for being a member of the royal family, during the funeral and other events as rules advised him to do, but he was criticised by some.

He said: “I did get a lot of unnecessary (comments), you don’t have to shout at me on social media, by the way, you can just ask, and if you just ask I’ll probably just reply to you.”