Yesterday, RAF Odiham was transformed into a life-size replica of the Coronation procession, with more than 7,000 personnel taking part in the rehearsal to ensure the procession is smooth-sailing.
The procession route was mapped out on the base in Hampshire using a pace stick to ensure it is precisely the correct distance.
This was the first and only full daytime practice for the Coronation. However, there will be a night rehearsal ahead of time, too.
During the rehearsal, 40 nations were represented, including personnel from the 34 Commonwealth countries and six overseas territories, testing out their timings and drills to ensure a perfect turnout. Commonwealth troops led the contingent, while the Household Cavalry brought up the rear.
The processions will be the largest military ceremonial operation for 70 years, since the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965, with more than 6,000 members of the Armed Forces out on the streets of London to mark the historic occasion.
On the day of the Coronation, The King’s Procession route will take Their Majesties down The Mall via Admiralty Arch, along the south side of Trafalgar Square, past Whitehall and Parliament Street, around the east and south sides of Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary, to finally arrive at the Abbey. They will ride in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach to the ceremony.
A minibus was used for the practice as a stand in for the carriage, while rugby posts marked Buckingham Palace, and cones ‘recreated’ Admiralty Arch at the entrance to The Mall.
After the Coronation, Their Majesties will travel the same route but in reverse and will instead travel in the Gold State Coach, which dates back to the reign of George III.
Speaking about the dry run, the head of the Royal Navy, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key said: ‘Putting it all together for the first time here actually, there’s a tinge of excitement. For us to have the opportunity and the privilege to play a small role in the coronation of His Majesty and Her Majesty in just under a week’s time is a mixture of excited anticipation, probably a few nerves and great pride.’
‘The late Queen, like the King today, was an enormous supporter of the armed forces and what we do, and we see this being continued in him. We have enormous confidence in King Charles as our Commander in Chief and it’s a great opportunity for us to show our allegiance to him and I’m sure that his mother will look down with great pride on the day.’