Fans pack London to greet their majesties
DRIZZLE DID NOTHING TO DAMPEN THE SPIRITS OF KING CHARLES’S LOYAL SUBJECTS AS THEY LINED THE STREETS TO CELEBRATE HIS CORONATION
Just eight months after London’s famous streets were awash with seemingly endless tears for the late Queen Elizabeth II, her loyal subjects gathered once again but this time to mark the biggest and happiest celebration Britain has seen in 70 years.
Royal watchers, some of whom camped out for up to six days in tents along The Mall, heralded the arrival of the day their beloved Queen’s oldest son would finally be crowned and take the Monarchy into a new era.
Excited and jubilant crowds chanted “hip, hip, hooray, long live the King”, fist-pumped the air, waved, cheered, screamed and held up mobile phones on selfie sticks to take photos as King Charles III and Queen Camilla passed by in the royal coach.
No one does pomp and pageantry like the British, and more than one million people were determined not to miss a glimpse of the royal couple as they travelled the 2.4 km route – in 23 minutes – from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey.
Surrounded by dozens of royal horse guards, footmen, the Yeoman of the Guard, grooms, marching bands, the King and Queen were also escorted by the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry and passed a guard of honour made up of 160 members of the three armed services.
Excited crowds were wrapped with plastic bin liners and wearing Union Jack suits and hats. Many had their faces daubed with paint, children wore charming homemade crowns and royal robes as champagne corks popped, beers were opened and glasses of wine appeared to have been drunk long before the procession was even due to start.
The old, the young, newborns in mothers’ arms and the infirm gathered in dedicated camps many had earlier co-ordinated in WhatsApp groups.
They carried plastic bags and trolleys filled with first-aid kits, Walkers crisps, Cadbury’s chocolates, bottled water, baby wipes and cucumber sandwiches.
Phillip Mason, who dressed up as the King, with his girlfriend Bethany Mason taking the role of Camilla, just wanted to be part of the momentous occasion, seeing the leadership of the monarchy pass from mother to son.
“Look, the Queen was the bomb. Charles has got a bit of work to do to catch up, but we need to move on with the times,” he said.
Conspicuous among the royalists were a group of Australians who had taken up prime position closest to a giant screen in St James Park, boisterous, jovial and inescapable.
Melbourne theatre worker Liz Norman flew into London on two flights, forking out $6000 to get to Dublin and another $600 to fly to Heathrow.
“How could I stay in Australia when the King is getting crowned,” Ms Norman said.
“I’m British born and have lived in Melbourne for eight years, I just had to see the King, it being part of history.”
As Big Ben chimed on the hour each hour and the moment of arrival grew nearer, crowds started chanting “God Save the King”.
“I love the royals. I’d rather have a monarch than a politician,” said Australian mum Nicola Demetriadi, who is originally from
Earlier in the morning, loud cheers rang out as royal fans got a sneak preview of the King before the procession as he and Camilla were driven
into Buckingham Palace ahead of his historic drive to the Abbey along the streets lined with Union jacks and flags from the King’s other realms.
The iconic London Underground, affectionately nicknamed The Tube, was pushed to its limits all morning, belching out constant streams of royalists into the city centre as well as conveying dozens of the Royal Guards in their full regalia.
The event was the British military’s largest ceremonial operation since Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 Coronation, with 9000 servicemen and women deployed and 7000 performing ceremonial and supporting roles.
A ring of steel was thrown around the capital for the ceremony, with snipers seen perched on the roof of the royal residences. There were so many defence personnel, one was placed every few paces along the procession route that was taken by The King and Queen in the dazzling Diamond Jubilee State Coach, built by Australian craftsman Jim Frecklington in Sydney.
They and hundreds of police were keeping a watchful eye on protesters and republicans who had gathered in Trafalgar Square for a #NotMyKing protest.
Six members of the antimonarchy group, Republic, were arrested including the CEO Graham Smith, who is formerly a Telstra worker from Melbourne.
Royal fans also clashed with “Just Stop Oil “protesters on The Mall, with onlookers singing the national anthem as the demonstrators shouted messages about climate change and the right to protest.
Approximately 13 of its demonstrators were arrested on
The Mall, as well as five more at Downing Street.
The protester arrests were not the only disruption in the hours leading up to the Coronation.
The King’s controversial younger brother Andrew, The Duke of York, was booed as he was driven in a state car towards Westminster Abbey, past a grandstand in front of Buckingham Palace.
As the rain picked up during the morning, umbrellas popped up all over the procession route, some featuring the poppy emblem of the Royal British Legion.