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Home » King’s Coronation Parade Will Be Double The Size Of The Queen’s Funeral, Say Army Officers

King’s Coronation Parade Will Be Double The Size Of The Queen’s Funeral, Say Army Officers

The King’s Coronation Parade, which is set to be ‘double the size’ of the late Queen’s funeral, started life as sketches on pieces of paper and ideas on whiteboards, the organisers have said.

Brigade Major of the Household Division, Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, said he and Garrison Sergeant Major Vern Stokes watched the 1953 Coronation on YouTube as they attempted to come up with suggestions for the procession.

Preparations for the May 6 event began in November, with around a month of planning going into every hour the military will be on parade.

Sergeant Major Stokes, 51, said everybody in the proceedings ‘will be aware’ of any potential disruptions or security threats.

He said: ‘Everybody knows exactly how they are legally allowed to react of any of those.’

Pictured: Garrison Sergeant Major Vern Stokes (left) and Chief Yeoman Warden Pete McGowran in his previous red and gold State Dress

Pictured: Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

On Friday, the plans were put into action as a procession rehearsal involving more than 700 guardsmen, officers and band members took place on Queen’s Avenue, between Lille Barracks and Mons Barracks in Aldershot, Hampshire.

As the parade is due to see soldiers filling the Mall, Sergeant Major Stokes said they had to design a new drill movement in order to feed people into Buckingham Palace, which he is yet to name.

‘It’s going really well,’ Lieutenant Colonel Shaw said after two run-throughs.

‘There’s been a lot of PowerPoint slides, but this was the first chance to see what it actually looks like.

‘I couldn’t be happier and I couldn’t be more excited and just want to fast forward to May 6 and get on with it.’

Several of the units who took part in the rehearsal have recently returned from operations and training exercises around the world, including in Kenya, Iraq and Cyprus.

Lieutenant Colonel Shaw, 43, who is due to lead the procession on horseback around 1,500 metres in front of the gold state coach, also led the planning for the late Queen’s funeral and her Platinum Jubilee.

Pictured: A horse is inspected as members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Pictured: A horse is inspected as members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Pictured: Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Pictured: Officers watch as members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Pictured: Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Pictured: Officers watch as members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Commenting on how the Coronation will compare to the previous two state events, he said: ‘I think the big difference with the Coronation, and what we’re doing, is the size.

‘I don’t like to compare anything with the funeral because one person or a million people wouldn’t have made a difference to how special it was.

‘But it is double the size of Her late Majesty’s funeral and it’s about triple the size of the Jubilee pageant. So it’s big and that’s the big difference.

‘The size brings challenges, but the military – we’re pretty good at working through the challenges, so I don’t think that that’s been a problem.

‘There’s an element of filling people in on roads – and you saw today it was a bit of a squash getting people down – but it’s not double the problem.’

Sergeant Major Stokes added: ‘We’ve been able to learn lessons from what we did (on the funeral) and insert more time if we need to or insert more rehearsals – and therefore we’ve been able to put those lessons into how we’re going to deliver this.’

Lieutenant Colonel Shaw, whose grandfather marched on the Coronation in 1953, said the royal household were responsible for eventually signing off on the proposals, but unlike the last year’s funeral, there were no written plans to follow.

Discussing the planning process, he said: ‘It was great fun – in the first few months, or first few weeks, the two of us were sat with a whiteboard with a few others and we were sketching ideas, taking bits from historical parades putting it together and coming up with, hopefully, what will be an amazing event.

‘We didn’t have a set plan to follow. For operation London Bridge there was a written plan.

‘We didn’t have a written plan but we have historical precedent we can draw from previous parades.

‘And actually, a lot of the ’53 Coronation is on YouTube.

‘So you can look at bits – taking bits from there, bits we wanted to add and putting the whole thing together.’

Pictured: A horse is inspected as members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Pictured: Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

He added: ‘The procession you saw today, I was sat at home on a Saturday afternoon and I was thinking about it… and I sketched it all out on a piece of paper, brought it in… I said “what do you think?” and he said “brilliant” and that’s what you saw today.

‘So I felt hugely proud watching it.’

Sergeant Major Stokes said he had the ‘unwelcome distraction’ of training for the London Marathon during the Coronation parade planning.

‘When you’re plodding the streets for two or three hours, that gives you a better headspace, and then you’re able to think about what you might have missed or how you can improve things – and that’s helped me an awful lot actually in designing and developing the plan,’ he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Shaw and Sergeant Major Stokes felt inspired after seeing the Mall full on the YouTube footage of the 1953 Coronation.

They decided to increase the Foot Guards procession seen at the Jubilee celebration from six-wide to 15-wide.

Lieutenant Colonel Shaw said: ‘When I get to Buckingham Palace, the Mall is going be full left to right, front to back, and the back of the procession will still be at Downing Street.

‘That’s what we wanted, to fill that Mall so the image off the top just looks down and it’s packed with troops in the colour.

‘It produces a wonderful spectacle that I think the country likes to see and we want to show – but it’s that spectacle of colour, and I suppose grandeur as well.’

Lieutenant Colonel Shaw said they were prepared for poor weather, but admitted rain would be ‘disappointing’.

‘Rain would be annoying. Heat not a problem,’ he said.

‘We have a lot of measures in place to deal with heat… and in the 20 to 30 years since Diana’s funeral we have all sorts of science and elements, so heat doesn’t worry me.

‘Rain would just be disappointing. The British public are all used to rain – it’s more just everybody gets damp and wet.

‘That’s it, no-one likes rain. We want a lovely sunny day.’

Pictured: Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Pictured: Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

The King’s Coronation Procession stretches to just 1.3 miles, around a quarter of the length of the late Queen’s five-mile celebratory journey.

A newly crowned King Charles and Queen Consort will make their way back from Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach via the tried-and-tested route of Parliament Square.

They will travel along Whitehall, around Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch and down The Mall back to Buckingham Palace.

More than 6,000 members of the armed forces will take part on the day of the Coronation, representing the largest military ceremonial operation for 70 years.

They will stage gun salutes and a flypast, as well as parading in the processions. 

Some 4,000 sailors, soldiers, aviators and other military personnel from across the UK and the Commonwealth will accompany the King and Queen Consort on their return Coronation procession.

Flanking the roads will be more than 1,000 route liners from the British Army, RAF and Royal Navy.

The journey will be the reverse of the King and Queen Consort’s route to the Abbey, but much shorter than Queen Elizabeth II’s five-mile return expedition around central London, which saw the 27-year-old monarch waving to crowds along Piccadilly, Oxford Street and Regent Street.

The grand procession in 1953 took two hours and featured tens of thousands of participants, with the two-and-a-half mile cavalcade taking 45 minutes to pass any given point.

The King’s shorter route is understood to have been selected for practical reasons, with a preference for the familiar journey used on many a royal occasion.

Pictured: A horse is inspected as members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Pictured: Officers watch as members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery take part in an Advanced Mounted Gunner Pass Out examination at Woolwich Barracks in London, on April 24, 2023

Previous monarchs, including Elizabeth II, have expressed their dislike for the bumpy, uncomfortable 260-year-old Gold State Coach.

The outward procession, called the King’s Procession, is much smaller and will see the King and Queen Consort travel in the modern Diamond Jubilee Coach, which has air con and shock absorbers.

It will feature around 200 members from The Sovereign’s Escort of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment accompanying the King and the Queen Consort, as well as troops from the three services lining the route.

The Queen’s journey to her crowning on June 2, 1953 was 1.6 miles, taking in a slightly longer route than the King’s by making her way along the Victoria Embankment by the River Thames.

She travelled both there and back in the Gold State Coach.

The King’s Coronation Procession is set to be a family affair for some of the military personnel, with their ancestors playing key roles in processions as far back as the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Lieutenant Lachlan de Klee, who will be the Ensign for the Coldstream Guards, said his relatives had taken part in the past two Coronations, and his ancestor, John Leslie, the Duke of Rothes, carried the sword of state at King Charles II’s Coronation.

‘I think it’s become quite diluted now but it’s nice to have that link all the way back, but there is definitely a massive sense of pride,’ he said.

Lieutenant de Klee is due to carry the King’s Colour from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace. He described the flag, which has all the battle honours on it, as the ‘beating heart of the regiment’.

He said his grandfather took part in the Coronation of the late Queen and his great-grandfather participated in George VI’s Coronation.

Speaking about whether he believed he would have children participating in future Coronations, he joked: ‘I’ll have to make sure I’ve got some good to go in however many years’ time.’

Asked if he was nervous ahead of the event on May 6, Lieutenant de Klee said: ‘We’ve had the excitement of doing countless other ceremonial occasions. We did the Queen’s funeral, state visits, state opening of Parliament, so nerves should be okay.

‘But this one, I think, probably will top them all.’

Second Lieutenant Archie Denison-Smith is due to carry the same sword his great-grandfather held during the 1953 Coronation.

He said: ‘My great-grandfather joined the army in 1937, he served in the Second World War, and was an usher inside the abbey on Her Majesty’s Coronation in 1953.’

He added that the sword is ‘a pretty special thing to be carrying on this Coronation’.

A platoon commander in the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, 2nd Lieutenant Denison Smith, said his family’s affiliation with the armed forces has spanned four centuries, with an order of service for Queen Victoria’s Coronation sitting at home.

Speaking after a rehearsal for the King’s Coronation parade in Aldershot, Hampshire, the 24-year-old said: ‘It’s an opportunity to celebrate everything good with the fact that we’ve got a constitutional monarchy.

‘We’re all very excited to welcome the King into the job.

‘It’s a once in a generation opportunity. We’ve not seen anything like this since the last Coronation so not in any of our lives. So I’m nervous, but also really excited.’

Second Lieutenant Denison-Smith is also due to carry the King’s Colour as an ensign during the procession.

He said: ‘Both my father and grandfather who are luckily still alive are both in the regiment, so I know they’re going to be glued to the television and picking up everything I get wrong.

‘It’s a lot of weight on my shoulders, put it that way.’