Hyde Park dispatch: 'despite the politics and the rain, King's Coronation still brought people together'
None of the people who had gathered in London’s Hyde Park to witness King Charles’ coronation let the rain dampen their spirits.
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I, along with thousands of other Brits, was in central London today to soak up the atmosphere of King Charles III’s highly-anticipated coronation. And in front of a big screen in the huge outdoor space that is Hyde Park, ‘soak’ was an appropriate word for the occasion - as the weather was anything but kind to the crowds gathered.
But no one let this dampen their spirits - not even for a moment. Instead, royalists, as well as those there simply to spectate, were buzzing with energy throughout the day.
People had come dressed in outfits to celebrate the occasion - whether that be makeshift crowns or clothing bearing Union Jacks - and many had brought picnics and deck chairs to see them through the lengthy ceremony. (Champagne bottles were being popped by 9am).
Plenty of people I came across were visibly filled with emotion, particularly when the time finally came for the crown to be placed on King Charles’ head. In the moments before, people held hands and waited with baited breath - before erupting into cheers when he was officially crowned.
One woman beside me even mimicked the ceremonial act by placing what looked like a Burger King crown on her young son’s head - so it’s safe to say people were embracing the moment in a range of different ways.
Sometimes, it felt a bit like we were watching a pantomime, as the crowds would cheer, boo, and clap depending on who appeared on the big screen. There was a lot of excitable flag waving whenever the camera was on Charles, and Prince William and Princess Kate - as well as their children George, Charlotte, and Louis - received a similarly warm response.
Prince Harry however was greeted with a few boos when he arrived at Westminster Abbey - although not everyone joined in, with a woman behind me commenting: “That’s not very nice”. Admittedly, the moment of frostiness passed pretty quickly, with a few people laughing it off, but it did make me wonder why Prince Andrew’s appearance didn’t seem to stir such a reaction.
Outside of those seconds though, you couldn’t wipe the smiles of people’s faces. People were chatting away to each other - all pretty much agreed on the reason they were there. “Because it’s a moment in history,” I was frequently told.
I spoke to Sisters Susie and Ellen Davis, 25 and 28, from Shropshire, who left at 5am to make it to Hyde Park. “We just didn’t want to miss it,” they told me. “We’ve always come to the jubilees, the weddings, and the Queen’s funeral. We knew we had to be here.”
Roslyn Ismay, 53, offered a similar sentiment, commenting: “I wanted to be part of the occasion. It’s a once in a lifetime thing. And the atmosphere is so great - everyone’s in a good mood despite the weather.”
What really came through for me today was the fact that - whatever your opinions are on the monarchy - there is something quite special about a bunch of strangers gathering somewhere simply because they want to witness something together.
So love him or loathe him, the coronation of King Charles III did just that - despite the regular downpours.