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Coronation Crowds Report: “We Brought Along Mum’s Ashes Because She Was a Royalist,” says Jane Fryer


It’s six in the morning and a sea of ​​Union Jack flags, inflatable crowns, pennants, lovingly mimeographed faces and little dogs in red, white and blue capes is flooding central London. Hyde Park, St James’s, The Mall and the 1,099 carefully decorated Portaloos are overflowing with people who have traveled from all over the world – Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Dorset, Essex – to celebrate King Charles’ coronation in their own way. to celebrate.

A handsome trio of Danish debt collectors – Karyna, 44, René, 34, and Charlotte, 41 – are decked out in lavish red velvet cloaks and ermine-trimmed crowns, adorned with rings and bling and surrounded by bags of M&S food.

“We’ve never dressed up before, but we love the English Crown!” says Rene. “We love all things royal. We have a queen and we hope you will do the same for us.’

Another trio nearby – Helen, Lisa and Tallulah from Camden, London – take a more English approach.

People came from all over the world to celebrate King Charles’ coronation today

“We’ve got toilet rolls, egg sandwiches, flags, white wine and more toilet rolls,” says Helen, 58. “And china cups for our tea!”

Meanwhile, sisters Dawn Probert, a maths teacher, and Anne O’Connor, a healthcare assistant, have moved away from Newcastle with a rather niche charge. ‘Our parents were both staunch Royalists and they would have been here if they could. So we bought mama along – in an ash ring – look!’ says Dawn, waving her right hand to reveal a pretty ring with two pretty pink inserts.

But by far the most passionate fan is 79-year-old Joyce Springer, who was here for the Queen’s coronation in 1953 – ‘it rained then too’ – and was in the red at 5:30am this morning. eye of Haywards Heath. We meet in the huge queue for a cup of coffee.

“I wanted to go camping, but none of my family was up for it—they’re all wimps!” she says. “All you need is a pair of black bags for your legs and you’re good to go.”

Joyce should know, she’s a veteran. She camped out for the Queen Mother’s 95th, her 100th, her funeral, Charles and Diana’s wedding – the list goes on. “I’ve slept on the doorstep in front of Clarence House so many times I know every bump and crack,” she says.

She also queued for 14 hours last year to see the late Queen laid out and gives me a murderous glare when I mention anti-monarchists’ threats to throw a spanner in the works.

“If someone starts today, I’ll be the first to bundle them. I’m really going to do that,” she says. “Because no one else in the world can do this kind of thing like we can and we do it well.”

And as the giant screens set up in St James’s Park to broadcast the action in the abbey suddenly came to life, with Gustav Holst’s Jupiter, the warm-up music in the church and the Household Cavalry preparing for action showing, can you see what she means.

Dog Save The King: Juliet and Georgina Angus pictured with King Charles Spaniels

Dog Save The King: Juliet and Georgina Angus pictured with King Charles Spaniels

Because whatever the weather – and it’s not great – there’s an extraordinary atmosphere here in central London. Although no one has had much sleep and nothing much happens for hours, we are all rather excited.

Every time the Tannoy system politely instructs campers to tidy up their tents, everyone starts clapping.

And big cheers go up when members of the police, military or even a phalanx of last-minute street sweepers venture onto The Mall.

Of course one of the joys of waiting in the rain in St James’s Park for hours – apart from inhaling the smell of wet grass, hot coffee and warm horse manure – is time to chat.

On Camilla being crowned queen: “I love Charles and the monarchy, but I will never forgive her Diana,” says 60-year-old Helen from Camden. “I’ll never call her queen.”

And Charles: ‘Who cares if he talks to plants, we’re all a little crazy, aren’t we?’ says Joyce Springer.

And who could forget the Harry-shaped elephant in the room? “They don’t want him too close. If they have any sense, they’ll put him behind a thick pillar,” says 58-year-old Lisa. “I really loved him, but he’s turned into a giant nag. Though I think we’d all forgive him pretty quickly if he got home – alone.’

No one seems to care that when the procession finally passes, we probably won’t see anything at all. Because all the top spots along the processional route are long gone, taken by the gritty-eyed hardcore campers who got ahead of us all.

At the very front I meet Bridget, Mel and Shelby, a very merry group who arrived at lunchtime on Friday and told me they are still recovering from last night’s ‘prosecco binge’.

Pictured: The coronation of King Charles III and Camilla, seen from the Queen Victoria Monument, overlooking the Mall

Pictured: The coronation of King Charles III and Camilla, seen from the Queen Victoria Monument, overlooking the Mall

“Have fun, we couldn’t stop laughing!” says Mel, looking impressively fresh. “Even though they were closer to the palace, they were shooting and dancing.” Although it was wise to bring tents and sleeping bags, Joy and Amelia from Newark, Nottinghamshire couldn’t be bothered by all that hassle.

“It was hailstones when we arrived Friday morning – a total nightmare,” says Joy, who spent a cold and very uncomfortable night in her camping chair but somehow looks flawless.

But the real diehards are the ‘balconers’ – the superfan royalists who flock from all over the world all week long to snag a spot where they can have a good view of the royal balcony. They’ve brought cooking stoves, heated sleeping bags and huge trunks full of snacks – and treat it like one hell of a royal camping holiday.

Now it’s finally 10pm – just 20 minutes until the 1.5-mile procession leaves – and people still seem to be pouring in. Pink-faced and nervous, carrying flags, bags, umbrellas, makeshift supermarket picnics and soggy carpets – she wants to be a part of it.

Rightly so, as it soon turns out there’s something surprisingly special about standing in a massive crowd, in the rain, reaching past soggy umbrellas to watch the events unfold on a giant screen.

The audible “Ooh” as Brigitte Macron stumbles in and grabs Emmanuel’s strong forearm. The laughter as Liz Truss arrives, amplified by a wagging tail in a Union Jack suit suggesting she can only stay for ten minutes and be searched when she goes out.

There is a small but distinct cheer for little Rishi.

1683405906 820 Coronation Crowds Report We Brought Along Mums Ashes Because She

“We have toilet rolls, egg rolls, flags, white wine and more toilet rolls,” said a royal fan

And an awkward mix of boos and cheers when Harry walks solo down the aisle and is immediately hidden from view by Princess Anne’s giant red-feathered hat.

But not everyone is glued to the screen. As the rain really starts to fall, I join a brilliantly bouncy group of seven women who have known each other since they met at Holy Trinity Primary school in Weymouth at the age of five.

Forty years later, they mix cold champagne with hot indignation at all the gloomy naysayers. “Britain is taking a beating, but it’s brilliant and diverse and everyone is welcome,” says 45-year-old Amy from Poole, Dorset.

“People complain about the price of the golden coach, but they already have it – so it must be cheaper than a new car and much more environmentally friendly!”

Wrying myself from their merry clutches, I meet Peter, 74, an army veteran with 35 years of service and a dauntingly long strip of medals pinned to his left chest.

Maybe he explains it best. ‘It’s history, isn’t it? We’ve been going on like this for 1,000 years since the Saxons,’ he says. ‘Why would anyone want to throw it away? We’re good at that.’

As he speaks, cheers come to us through The Mall. The cameras and flags and selfie sticks shoot up in a Mexican wave and we all rush to join the 20-strong crowd behind the barriers.

The crowd erupts in a frenzy of screams, flag waving and unexpected tears.

Jumping up and down as high as possible, I can just make out the top of one of the graceful gilded corner trees on top of the golden state carriage that drives by with King Charles and Queen Camilla in it.

And you know what? It feels incredible.

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