Beneath the glow of London’s street lamps, 4,000 sailors, soldiers and aviators paraded through the empty streets of the Capital on Tuesday night as they mounted their final full-scale rehearsal of the Coronation processions ahead of 6 May.
Personnel from all regiments of the British Army, and from across the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, formed up into the eight processional groups that will lead Their Majesties The King and Queen Consort back to Buckingham Palace after the Coronation service at Westminster Abbey.
The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment had the furthest to parade, as they will lead the ceremonial charge for both The King’s Procession to Westminster Abbey, and the return procession from the Abbey.
On the morning of the 6th May, Their Majesties will travel from Buckingham Palace in The King’s Procession to Westminster Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Created for Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Her late Majesty’s reign in 2012, the coach has only ever conveyed the Sovereign, occasionally accompanied by the consort or a visiting Head of State.
Photographer: Sgt Donald C Todd – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023
The gilded crown on the top of the Diamond Jubilee State Coach was carved from oak from HMS Victory, and the coach’s interior is inlaid with samples of woods, metals and other materials from buildings and places with specific connections to Britain and its history; Royal Residences including Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse; cathedrals including St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey; and historic ships, such as the Mary Rose. The coach will be drawn by six Windsor Greys.
The King’s Procession, accompanied by The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, will depart Buckingham Palace through the Centre Gate, and proceed down The Mall, passing through Admiralty Arch and south of King Charles I Island, down Whitehall and along Parliament Street. The King’s Procession will travel around the east and south sides of Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary to arrive at the Sanctuary of Westminster Abbey, where the Coronation Service will begin at 11 o’clock.
Photographer: Sgt Robert Weideman, RLC – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023
The procession from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace, The Coronation Procession, will be much larger in scale, taking the same route in reverse. The Coronation Procession will include Armed Forces from across the Commonwealth and the British Overseas Territories, and all Services of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, alongside The Sovereign’s Bodyguard and Royal Watermen.
Pictured: Royal Marine Band contingent of the Coronation procession. Photographer: Sgt Jimmy Wise UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023
Their Majesties will travel in the Gold State Coach. The coach, last seen during the Pageant of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2022, was commissioned in 1760 and was first used by King George III, to travel to the State Opening of Parliament in 1762. The coach has been used at every Coronation since that of William IV in 1831. The coach will be drawn by eight Windsor Greys and, due to its weight of four tonnes, will travel at walking pace.
Upon returning to Buckingham Palace following the Coronation Service, Their Majesties will receive a Royal Salute from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Armed Forces who have been on parade that day. The Royal Salute will be followed by three cheers from the assembled service personnel, as a tribute from the Armed Forces on parade to The King and The Queen Consort on the day of Their Majesties’ Coronation.