Military rehearse King’s Coronation procession on empty London streets at midnight

Hundreds of military personnel followed the route through the capital on horseback

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The military paraded through the quiet streets of central London in the early hours of Tuesday morning as part of the first rehearsal for the King’s Coronation.

Hundreds of military personnel followed the route on horseback in preparation for the historic event on 6 May, which is now less than three weeks away.

The procession will see King Charles and the Queen Consort make their way back from Westminster Abbey via Parliament Square, along Whitehall, around Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch and down The Mall before heading back to Buckingham Palace.

Members of the military on The Mall, near Buckingham Palace (Photo: PA)Members of the military on The Mall, near Buckingham Palace (Photo: PA)
Members of the military on The Mall, near Buckingham Palace (Photo: PA)

The coronation procession stretches to just 1.3 miles, which is around a quarter of the length of the late Queen’s five-mile celebratory journey which travelled through Piccadilly, Oxford Street and Regent Street.

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

There was no sight of it at the rehearsal last night, but on the coronation day Charles and Camilla will be taken to Westminster Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach and return via the same route in the Gold State Coach.

The coronation will see the largest military ceremonial operation in 70 years, with more than 6,000 men and women of the UK’s armed forces taking part in the royal event.

Members of the military in Westminster, central London (Photo: PA)Members of the military in Westminster, central London (Photo: PA)
Members of the military in Westminster, central London (Photo: PA)

Charles and Camilla will be accompanied to and from Westminster Abbey by sailors, soldiers, and aviators from across the UK and the breadth of the Commonwealth to celebrate the occasion. Almost 400 armed forces personnel from at least 35 Commonwealth countries will also be on parade to mark the historic moment.

Additionally, royals from across the globe will attend a reception at Buckingham Palace on the eve of the coronation. Princess Beatrix, the former queen of the Netherlands, has confirmed her attendance at the event, expected to be hosted by Charles, alongside her granddaughter and heir to the Dutch throne Catharina-Amalia, the Princess of Orange.

British royalty, presidents and prime ministers from around the world are also expected to be in attendance. US president Joe Biden is not travelling to the UK for the coronation, but First Lady Jill Biden will represent America.

The Duke of Sussex, who has a troubled relationship with Charles, will attend to see his father crowned, although his appearance at the palace reception will be open to speculation.

Kings and queens from overseas – many of whom are related to the British royal family – are traditionally invited to a reception ahead of major events like royal weddings and funerals.

Charles hosted a reception for world leaders and foreign kings and queens on the eve of the Queen’s funeral last September and was joined by the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Princess Royal.

Among the guests at the sombre Buckingham Palace event were France’s president Emmanuel Macron and King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain and King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden.