WO2 Dominic Virjee
The Coronation of their majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla was the largest event in the military calendar for 2023.
The event was a once in a lifetime, once in a career opportunity to be part of history and 3PWRR were invited to provide a colour party along with our first and fourth battalions. I was honoured to be accepted as the conducting WO, and pleased to have Colour Sergeants Johns and Ghale from my company as the escorts, with Captain Long of B Company carrying the King’s colour.
Colour parties came to Aldershot from Army locations across the globe, both regular and reserve, and we were ably instructed and guided by ceremonial subject matter experts from the Guards.
Instruction and practice periods were completed within the barracks with a full dress rehearsal conducted overnight in London, fully supported by the best buffet meals and barista made coffee the army has ever provided in my career.
The overnight rehearsal was as much of a highlight to me as the main event. On both occasions we took a special train service into Waterloo East. Our arrival in London, in full dress uniforms with colours and weapons gave the public much to film, photograph and post to social media. It was humbling to be applauded by the public we serve as we marched through central London, across Waterloo Bridge, through Parliament Square, along Birdcage Walk and into Wellington Barracks.
It was a privilege to march through our capital, bayonets fixed and swords drawn, with drums beating and is an honour few will experience.
The colour parties marched out from Wellington barracks to form up at the Victoria memorial, outside Buckingham Palace as an honour guard to greet the newly crowned King & Queen on their return to the palace. The cheers and applause from the public stands when we arrived in position was both surprising and heart-warming and gave us even greater pride in our part in the day.
From our position at the monument we had some of the best views of the procession available, with the gold state carriage and much of the procession passing just metres away from us. Once the procession had passed we marched back into ‘Wellie B’ to regroup and march back to Waterloo East, once more to the sound of the drums and much public appreciation, the near continual rain did nothing to dampen our spirits or pride.
Once back at Aldershot it was over, uniforms and colours out to dry and back to our ‘real’ lives. It was surreal to be home the same day; to see coronation decorations on houses and shops and to hear it discussed by others, to see footage on the news and think to myself ‘we were there, we were part of that’.