18 May Shropshire’s Lord-Lieutenant Anna Turner writes of her once-in-a-lifetime experience of the coronation
It is with amazing memories that I write this. The last week has been a total whirlwind of Coronation activities.
On May 2 I travelled to London to watch the overnight rehearsals for the Coronation parade. With over 7,000 soldiers and horses taking part the sight was a sheer wonder – made even more special by the rehearsal being in the dark in the middle of the night.
The next day it was marvellous to see photos on social media of Shropshire residents attending His Majesty King Charles III’s first Royal Garden Party. A fabulous sunny welcome awaited them at Buckingham Palace as they arrived and it was lovely way to show appreciation for all they do for the county.
I travelled to London on Friday ahead of the Coronation. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was.
The weather forecast was for rain so a waterproof mac was to hand!
The anticipation and atmosphere in London had built and was electric with high hopes of a spectacle we would never forget.
A very early start on Coronation Day saw me making my way to Westminster Abbey at 7am with Lord-Lieutenants from around the United Kingdom. Whilst queuing to get into the Abbey it was lovely to bump into other Shropshire residents that had been invited to the Coronation.
Most would consider a four-hour wait a bit extreme but I promise you it flew by. We were asked to stop moving around in Westminster and be seated at 8.30am which is when the people-watching started. Nudges from my neighbour “did you recognise him”? It was John Major, and so it went on with other prime ministers, leaders, foreign royal families, representatives from faiths, heads of state all in beautiful uniforms, costumes and clothes.
When the music started, I had to remind myself this was the real thing and not just records being played, the organ, orchestra, trumpeters and soloists made the hairs on my arms stand up.
Adding to the wonderful pomp and ceremony, we had among the congregation, standing guard, members of The King’s Bodyguards in their intricate ceremonial dress.
1. The Gentlemen at Arms
2. The Royal Company of Archers
3. Yeoman of the Guard.
Sitting in the nave you are quite a distance from the Chairs of Estate but luckily television screens made sure we could all see the entire ceremony, apart from the “anointing” which took place behind the screens of which some of the meticulous work had been completed by Shropshire artisans. Watching this with Zadoc the Priest being sung by the choir was the most poignant moment for me.
With a beaming smile on my face, I bobbed a curtsey to both Their Majesties as they processed past in their ornate robes with crowns weighing their heads down. I felt as if I had eye contact and felt hugely privileged to have been lucky enough to have had the call-up – there were only just over 2,000 guests and even the Archbishop of Canterbury’s wife had not been invited.
Moving about in that part of London was nearly impossible as barriers had been placed to prevent the crowd covering the procession route and the troops marched back to different venues.
I will never forget the sound of those beating drums, bands playing, feet marching, the clunk of metal from horses’ bits, tack and trumpet fanfares.
I cannot wait to have the opportunity to see Her Majesty’s robe at close quarters. It will have been exquisitely made, with her two Jack Russells embroidered in the hemline.
When the bells of Westminster Abbey rang, our King and Queen were crowned and we sang the National Anthem. I have never felt more proud to be a servant of His Majesty and of what our country can achieve, with immaculate traditions upheld.
Coronation celebrations continued the next day in Shropshire when I, supported by two Lord-Lieutenant Cadets, attended a service at St Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury, to celebrate the Coronation of the King and Queen Camilla. I was also delighted to attend the unveiling of the commemorative coronation plaque at Livesey House, Shrewsbury by the Mayor of Shrewsbury.
The plaques were created by British Ironwork Centre who teamed up with me as Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire, Anna Turner, to provide coronation plaques to 20 towns in the county.
For the third time in the last 12 months, I have been honoured to be part of such a historic event – the other two being Platinum Jubilee and funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
It is such a privilege to be Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire and represent the county.