Crowds and protesters gather on Royal Mile ahead of service for King

One woman who lives in New Zealand travelled to the event with her sisters.

Lauren Gilmour
Wednesday 05 July 2023 13:01 BST
Georgia, Paula, Sara and Ciara, all from Italy, were on the Royal Mile ahead of the procession (Lauren Gilmour/PA)
Georgia, Paula, Sara and Ciara, all from Italy, were on the Royal Mile ahead of the procession (Lauren Gilmour/PA) (PA Wire)

Crowds gathered early on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile with visitors from as far away as New Zealand hoping to catch a glimpse of the King on his way to the service of thanksgiving.

Three sisters, Julie Avery, 51, from Birmingham, Karen Shortiss, 54, from Penicuik, Midlothian, and Linda Halfpenny, 67, from New Zealand, met up in the Scottish capital on Wednesday to see Charles and Camilla making their way to St Giles’ Cathedral for the event.

Mrs Halfpenny has lived in New Zealand for 42 years and is in Britain to see her two sisters.

Her time at home coincided with Charles and Camilla’s visit to Scotland, so she phoned her sisters and asked if they could attend the event with her.

Mrs Avery said: “Linda is over here visiting and last week she sent me a message asking if I could have Wednesday off and could I come up, so I said ‘Yes alright.’

“I came up last night and I’ll go home tomorrow morning to go to work tomorrow afternoon.”

Mrs Shortiss said: “We’ll spend the day together as well.”

Mrs Halfpenny said she had “come a long way” and the sisters wanted a “good position” to be able to see the royal procession.

Also in the crowd were four women from Italy, wearing fascinators and carrying royal family teacups.

They are on a business trip in Scotland and came along at midnight on Tuesday to scope out their position in the crowd, but arrived at 8.30am on Wednesday.

Ciara, from Bologna, said: “We like the royal family and we want to share with our community to show what happened.”

Paula, also from Bologna, added: “We want to show our support to the new King.”

Chris McCloskey, 54, who is originally from Glasgow but now lives in Memphis in the US, said: “I saw the Queen here at her jubilee in 1977, so this could be like a repeat of that.”

He was joined by his 10-year-old nephew Aaron, from Tullibody, whose sister presented flowers to the late Queen at an event more than 20 years ago.

Aaron said he was “very excited” to see the King.

Elsewhere in the crowd was Margaret Jenkins, 62, from East Lothian, who said: “I’m excited to see King Charles, my King, and I know not everyone would agree.”

Anne Connolly, 65, from South Shields, said: “It’s a good day out. We’re looking forward to seeing the King and Camilla.”

Referring to an area fenced off for protesters outside the cathedral, she said: “They’ve given the protesters the best spot here, the best view. It isn’t fair.”

Protesters gathered outside the High Court building holding placards saying “Not My King”.

Earlier on Wednesday, three of them made their way up and down the Royal Mile chanting “Not My King” and handing out stickers to passers-by.

One of the protesters told the PA news agency that the royal family is a “symbol of the state the country is in”.

She said: “They are a classic example of people who have too much when people have so little.

“It’s not a personal thing against the King, but it is a democratic disgrace that he has this unelected position in a modern country.”

She said protesters had received an “absolutely fabulous” response from passers-by.

She added: “It’s mostly tourists and they all find it very strange that we still have this odd constitutional quirk.”

Groups of pro and anti-republican protesters gathered next to each other on the Royal Mile, chanting “Not my King” and “Charles King of Scots” at each other.

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