A former British Transport Police employee invited to the Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral missed the service amid chaos caused by railway disruption.
Barry Boffy, who is from Bristol, was on the guest list having been awarded an MBE at the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June.
But his train was stopped near Slough as damage to overhead electric wires forced the cancellation of all trains between the Berkshire town and Paddington.
Slough is a change point between Paddington and Windsor and Eton Central – one of two stations serving Windsor Castle, the monarch’s final resting place after the Monday afternoon procession.
Mr Boffy spent 15 years working for the BTP, eventually becoming its head of inclusion and diversity. He left the force in March and now works as a consultant for a number of charities across Europe.
“Events conspired against me and I wasn’t able to make it in time,” he told BBC Bristol.
“We had pulled into Langley, and they [train operators] opened the doors and basically said ‘make your own way’.
“It was about an hour away by car and thankfully the kindness of strangers recognised I needed to get into London as soon as possible and offered me a lift with them.
“But with all the traffic and road closures, by the time I got pretty close to where I needed to be, Met Police told me there is no point, you’re not going to make it in time.”
Mr Boffy added it was “still a huge honour and privilege just to have been invited” and he would “treasure the memory of the opportunity to have been there”.
He was among thousands of mourners who hoped to travel to London for the Queen’s funeral but would ultimately miss the occasion amid a slew of cancellations and delays.
Great Western Railway (GWR) confirmed the 6.25am service to Slough was “to be evacuated” just after 8.45am, after passengers found themselves “stuck” for several hours just outside Paddington.
GWR initially signalled disruption would cease by 10am, an hour before the start of the funeral, but confirmed on social media shortly before that time there were still “severe delays on services”.
A further update issued at 10.30am confirmed disruption was “likely to continue for the rest of the day” and apologised to customers, confirming Network Rail engineers had arrived on site.
Disappointed mourners voiced their frustration on social media, with one writing “you had one job”. Another customer, who said they left at 5am to pay their respects, claimed they were “told that Paddington is full and we can’t get in”.
The power fault also affected the Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express trains heading out of central London.
Social media posts showed Transport for London urged travellers to instead change at Hammersmith and use the Piccadilly line.