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‘Charles will be a great King’

Three cheers for King Charles during a proclamation parade in Gibraltar on Sunday. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Hundreds of people gathered in Convent Place on Sunday to watch the Governor of Gibraltar, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, proclaim King Charles III as King of Gibraltar.

Sir David, a former Aide de Camp to the Queen, read the proclamation statement from the balcony of The Convent watched not only by onlookers below but also by dignitaries and religious leaders who joined him on the balcony.

As the band of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment played God Save the King during the ceremony, some members of the public sang along.

Among them was Pauline Collins from Yorkshire, who while also experiencing sorrow for the death of Queen Elizabeth II, told the Chronicle: “Charles is going to be a great king.”

“And I think he will support his son to groom him into the role he is in now.”

“I am a true royalist, I have been all my life and I will be until the day I die,” she added.

She never had a chance to meet the Queen but saw her once, and saw the then Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

She recalled meeting met Princess Anne though, who was heavily pregnant at the time. Ms Collins’ eldest daughter presented her with some embroidery she had made.

“And despite being on her feet all day she still spoke to our eldest daughter,” she said.

“And then we received a letter of thanks from the palace,” she added, a letter which is now framed and on display at home.

Louise Baitson attended the proclamation with her young son to pay her respects to the Queen, lay some flowers and to sign the book of condolence.

“For me that is very sad,” she said.

“She has been there my whole life, so it is very hard to think that for the foreseeable future we are only going to have Kings.”

“It’s an odd thing to get my head around. But I am sure he will do a great job.”

As she sang God Save the King, she reflected on how odd it felt to change one word.

“I sang God Save the Queen and then I had to correct myself. I think it is going to take a while to get used to,” she said.

“It was very poignant listening to the guns, it was very emotional.”

“And there were quite a few people getting teary eyed around us, which just added to the emotion of the day.”

Marie Gibson moved to Gibraltar a year ago and was outside The Convent because she wanted to be part of the ceremony.

“We lived in London and we lived there for 10 years, and if I was in London now, I'd be at Buckingham Palace probably with everyone else,” she said.

“I really felt that I needed to be connected and be part of the historic moment and pay my respects to Queenie who I love to bits.”

“I'm really devastated that she's gone. But it wasn't exactly unexpected.”

She noted that it was also special to experience the proclamation being read with the people of Gibraltar.

“I have always said since I moved here Gibraltarians are cousins I didn't know I had.”

“So I feel really privileged to be here in Gibraltar for this moment. It's a unique moment. If I'm lucky I will see another one when it's William’s turn,” she added.

Having landed on the British Airways flight at 11.11am, Pauline Holloway, her sister Jennifer Thrower and friend Diane Hill, who flew in from Manchester, swiftly dropped their bags off at the hotel and made their way to The Convent.

“We came down today to see [in person] what we saw back at home on the television,” said Ms Holloway, referring to the Proclamation of King Charles III at the Accession Council ceremony held in St James’s Palace on Saturday.

“We wanted to see it in person and there's nothing like the real thing,” her sister added, to which Ms Holloway immediately praised all involved in the ceremony on the Rock.

“Gibraltar really does ceremonial,” she said, noting she has visited the Rock many times since 1967.

Ms Holloway was awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to national maritime heritage.

Although she did not receive her medal directly from the Queen she did meet her while she was in the Royal Navy. She has also met the new King.

In addition, she has also attended two garden parties in Buckingham Palace.

Reflecting on the changing of the words from God Save the Queen to God Save the King, the trio said it will take time to get used to.

But on Sunday, they were careful to sing the new words during the proclamation ceremony.

They also noted that while the death of the Queen was not unexpected, it was still a shock, compounded by the fact it was only on Tuesday that the monarch had sworn in the new Prime Minister of the UK, Liz Truss.

After the proclamation, with the new King declared publicly in Gibraltar, there was a sombre mood in Convent Place, laced with a positive sense of a new era having started.

Flags had been raised for the event but were lowered to half-mast soon after it was over.

Gibraltar, along with the UK and other Commonwealth nations around the world, returned to mourning their Queen, Queen Elizabeth II.

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