‘Long live the King!’ Trumpets and tears as thousands gather to see Charles III proclaimed monarch

Pomp, and ceremony, and thousands of people trying not to forget the national anthem had changed

Colin Drury
Friary Court, London
Saturday 10 September 2022 14:52 BST
King Charles III: What's next for the monarch?

There was pomp, there was ceremony, there were thousands of people trying desperately not to forget that the national anthem now demands “God save the King”.

Large crowds gathered outside St James’s Palace on Saturday morning to sing and cheer as King Charles III formally ascended to the throne.

They stood below the famed balcony in Friary Court to witness a man whose title is the garter king of arms come out and proclaim the new monarch following a formal ceremony inside.

State trumpeters sounded the royal salute before the King’s Guard gave three cheers – Bearskin hats raised with each one – and a rousing rendition of the national anthem was performed.

And the thousands here loved every moment.

“It was a bit of an odd experience singing ‘God Save the King’,” said Stephen Jones, a 28-year-old cost consultant, who was among the thousands in the courtyard. “It definitely took a bit of concentration to remember. ‘God Save the Queen’ comes so naturally. It’s what we’ve been singing our whole lives. It will take a bit of adjusting.”

His partner, Sydney Jung, had been standing right in front of French TV cameras during the anthem. “So I was feeling pressure not to forget,” the 28-year-old HR worker said.

Stephen Jones and Sydney Jung (Colin Drury)

The pair – like almost everyone here – had come along because they wanted to witness a moment of history. “Days like this – they don’t come along very often,” Mr Jones declared before a moment’s reflection (perhaps on Charles’s vintage). “The next one will probably come along a bit sooner, though,” he decided.

The garter principal king of arms, David Vines White, reads the proclamation of the new king, King Charles III, from the Friary Court balcony of St James’s Palace, London (PA Wire)

Some here had nursed a vague hope that the king himself might appear – “A bit disappointing,” decreed 54-year-old Suzanne Jones on hearing the news that he would not – but most appeared delighted simply to see this ancient ritual being performed. When the state trumpeters emerged to kick things off, shortly before 11am, a thousand mobiles were raised into the air – where they stayed until the whole thing was finished.

“It was amazing!” said Susanne Wolf – about the ceremony, not the phones. “My mother, who is 85, was here for the coronation of the Queen, so this feels like full circle for us as a family. I have been getting very emotional about it, actually. It is a wonderful occasion. It is special.”

She, her sister and her sister’s two teenage children had travelled from Germany – where they all live – specially to be here. They had driven from Frankfurt to Brussels on Friday evening, hopped on the Eurostar to London, got a couple of hours’ sleep at a hostel, and then come straight here. A 10-hour journey for a ceremony that lasted 10 minutes, no more. They were due to set off back home early on Sunday.

Was it worth it?

“Absolutely worth it,” said the 59-year-old. “This is history. When the news came on Thursday [about the Queen’s death], I just had an overwhelming urge to be here. I wanted to pay my respects and show my support for the royal family.”

For some here, part of the thrill appeared to be seeing various politicians standing in their own fenced-off enclosure within the courtyard. The great, the good, and David Cameron were all here. When a whisper went through the crowd that Boris Johnson had turned out, a palpable buzz could be felt. Mobile phones went up again. Nick Clegg’s emergence caused slightly less excitement.

Susanne Wolf, left, with niece Annika, sister Conny and nephew Jonathan (Colin Drury)

As proceedings were wound up – “Was that it?” one child could be heard asking – thoughts for many here turned to the King and the new era ahead.

“Well, he’s not his mother,” said Sue Burke, diplomatically. “But I think he will do a good job. I think he’s got Camilla, who appears a very good influence, and they’ve had a long time to prepare, and I think he will ease into it quite naturally.”

Time will tell, of course, but certainly – if the thousands here are anything to go by – he starts off his reign with some considerable goodwill. As the crowd began to break up and head off with their moment of history safely in their video albums, a shout or two could be heard going up: “Long live the King!”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in