Coronation parade underlines Rock’s ‘umbilical link’ to UK
Personnel from all three branches of the Armed Forces and Gibraltar’s essential services marched along Main Street on Wednesday in a Coronation Parade for King Charles III, who will be crowned in London on Saturday.
The parade, which was organised by the Ministry of Defence at the request of the Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, started in Market Place before making its way through Casemates and Main Street to Convent Place for an inspection and a royal salute.
Crowds lined the route and watched as the Governor, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Commander British Forces Commodore Tom Guy and Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Moore, inspected the personnel on parade.
Above them on the balcony of The Convent were dignitaries from across the community, with music provided by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Band, the Band and Drums Association and the Sea Scouts Pipe Band.
“It was very special and what a change from back in September, when Her Majesty passed away, and the difference in the uplifting nature of such a parade,” Sir David said speaking to GBC during a live broadcast of the parade.
“I think this is the first time that we've had tri-service guards on The Convent - Navy, Air Force and Army - to guard The Convent.”
“It’s the first time we've had such a parade that has included agency services and all three services.”
“And in particular, what always overwhelms me, is that we had the massed bands of Gibraltar - the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Band and then, of course, the Band and Drums Association, the Sea Scouts Pipes and drums.”
“It was absolutely fantastic, and what a way to start this coronation weekend.”
Mr Picardo also highlighted the contrast between the joyous nature of Wednesday’s parade and the solemnity of the events last year to mark the death of the Queen.
And he said the event, one of the first parades ahead of Saturday’s coronation, “matters beyond Gibraltar”.
“I think we've once again demonstrated how Gibraltar embraces these issues, how it reflects the umbilical nature of the relationship between Gibraltar and the sovereign, the United Kingdom, our sovereignty, the King of Gibraltar,” he said.
He said the resounding ‘hurrahs’ for the King during the parade would leave people “needing our Strepsils”.
The parade in Gibraltar came just hours after rehearsals took place in central London in the early hours of Wednesday morning offering a first glimpse of the coronation events planned in London at the weekend.
Hundreds of soldiers, including from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, marched down from Buckingham Palace past Trafalgar Square and Downing Street to Westminster Abbey.
“We are deeply honoured to take part in this historic event,” Lt Col Moore said.
“Soldiers from our forebear Regiment, the Gibraltar Defence Force, took part in the Coronation in 1953, and it therefore allows serving members of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment to carry on this time-honoured tradition.”
“We will be representing not only the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and British Forces Gibraltar, but all of the people of Gibraltar.”
“I am confident that our officers and soldiers will perform this duty with great pride and to the highest standards, both at the Coronation in London and the events here in Gibraltar.”
On Wednesday night, the Diamond Jubilee State Coach and Gold State Coach were also marched down the Mall as part of the preparations for the full event on May 6.
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach was accompanied by hundreds of soldiers on horseback as it travelled along the Mall, setting off shortly after 12.20am on Wednesday.
Royal fans waited for more than three hours for the parade to make a return journey down the Mall.
Crowds ran through St James’ Park to find the best spots near the palace with many trying to spot their relatives in their military outfits.
Hundreds of soldiers from the military, navy and RAF marched through central London before stopping along Whitehall and standing in silence.
A huge security operation in in place in London, with the rehearsal taking place hours after a man was arrested outside Buckingham Palace after throwing suspected shotgun cartridges into the palace grounds.
The man was held on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon after he was searched and a knife was found, but he was not carrying a gun.
Cordons were put in place and Scotland Yard said a controlled explosion was carried out as a precaution as the man had a “suspicious bag”.
Ahead of the parade in Gibraltar, security was also the prime concern for the Royal Gibraltar Police and the Gibraltar Defence Police, whose search teams carried out searches throughout the route to ensure public safety.
The area was cordoned off ahead of the parade and the officers were assisted by Koki, the GDP’s explosives detection dog.
“Prior to joining the specialist department, Licensed Search Officers must have successfully passed an intensive five-day course approved by the UK's College of Policing,” an RGP spokesperson said.
“RGP and GDP officers often work together as a unit ahead of big events, to find missing persons or to recover evidence.”