Father honored for Covid-19 volunteer work is invited to Queen’s funeral
A father-of-two who has been honored for his work supporting people during the Covid-19 pandemic said he couldn’t believe it when he was invited to the Queen’s funeral.
Pranav Bhanot, from Chigwell in Essex, helped deliver 1,200 free meals and was made an MBE on the Queen’s birthday.
The 34-year-old lawyer also gave “free pro bono advice to people who had annulled marriages, couldn’t get their deposits back, people who had lost their jobs because they were made redundant”, he said. he declared.
Mr Bhanot, a councilor for Chigwell parish council, said last Saturday afternoon he received a phone call from a private number ‘while trying to put my two-year-old to sleep’.
“I don’t normally answer private numbers, but I did on this occasion,” he said.
“It was from the Cabinet Office and they invited me to the state funeral.
“I didn’t believe it, to be completely honest with you.
“I still don’t really believe it because the invitation hasn’t come yet.
“I feel completely out of place because all the headlines say there will be world leaders and presidents, but this will give me a really great opportunity to pay tribute to someone I admire so much.”
He said he received few details so far, other than “wearing a dark suit, which I went out to buy yesterday noon.”
Mr Bhanot helped set up a support group to try to ‘provide food and prescriptions for those who were self-isolating and unable to leave their properties’ during Covid-19.
He said that when he found out he was going to be made an MBE he “didn’t think I deserved it to be honest”.
“I was very surprised, very grateful,” he said.
“It was the last thing I expected.
“It’s a huge honor.”
He said he heard about the Queen’s death from a message on his phone as he walked to a tube station after leaving the office.
“I was really devastated when I found out,” he said.
“I was about to board the subway and it was really really bad news, I was really upset.
“It felt like I had lost a member of my family to be completely honest with you.”
Mr Bhanot recalled meeting the Queen at an interfaith event at Lambeth Palace 10 years ago when he was a student at the University of Manchester and involved in student politics.
“She was a lot smaller than I thought but she had this amazing, very sweet presence,” he said.
“I must have been the 100th person she spoke to that day, but she seemed so interested in what I had to say.
“Very polite and she put me at ease even though I almost froze as I couldn’t quite believe I was in front of someone I’ve seen on TV all my life who has been a constant in my life.”
The Queen’s state funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey on Monday.