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Photos and article by Paul Wright, May 2023
Coronation Day 2023

The King & Queen
Buckingham Palace Balcony

Coronation Day in Rushden on Saturday May 6th, 2023, started off really bright and sunny. The big question was, would it last?

The weather was not looking too good in London, and the rain was falling by 9.30, with arrivals at the Abbey sheltering under umbrellas. Sadly the rain had reached our neck of the woods by 10.00, and all through the service it was raining here, with a temperature of 14C.

Numerous people, including myself, decided to get out fairly bright and early to visit the shops. And to have the chance to purchase a newspaper; there was a young man buying several titles, so that he could keep them as a souvenir of the day. Imagine how many of us have mislaid, or lost something from the 1953 Coronation?

The 1953 crowning of Charles’s mother, the late Elizabeth II, was the UK’s first coronation to be shown on TV.

And in 2023, some of the staff working at Waitrose were getting into the spirit of the day, and were sporting cardboard crowns.

In Rushden itself, some shops and businesses were doing their bit to mark the Coronation.

decorated post box Salvation Army Shop window
Salvation Army Shop window - sorry about reflection!

If I was awarding prizes for effort, it would be difficult to pick an outright winner. But the display in Jan's Floral Boutique was really special, and can be seen in our photos. This business is one of the longest to still be with us on our High Street, and is located at number 27.

decorated cycles
Jan's Floral Boutique
Regal Ride in Rushden - decorated cycles

Then it was back home, ready to settle down in front of the television to enjoy this historic event.

The live coverage on the television started at 7.30 on the BBC, and ran through the day. The engineering feed of the BBC coverage was plagued by “splatter” on the audio side of things at times.

Other broadcasters were covering every single moment too, with a tally of 6,000 staff from around the world here for the big day.

I read during the week that I was in the group of 10% of people who were around in 1953, and vaguely recall the day being pretty wet in Wymington.

So that was 70 years ago, for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Back then very few people had the luxury of the box in the corner, but would have tuned in on their wireless sets. My late father purchased our first television in 1955 from Clark's in Rushden High Street for a princely sum of 100 guineas (£105). That in today’s money would have been a few week’s wages.

Osborne's window display
Planters near Asda

It had a 12 inch screen displaying black and white pictures, and was manufactured in England by Bush. The model number was a TV-24, and had the controls on the right hand side. (no remote controls in those days!) And every so often to you had to manually adjust the vertical or horizontal hold of the picture etc.!

In 2023 down in London, public access to sites along The Mall and Whitehall were on a first-come, first-served basis, with people directed to official screening sites in Hyde Park, Green Park and St James's Park once they were full.

On the downside, a few anti royal protesters were arrested north of Trafalgar Square in London. There was a massive security operation, with the Metropolitan Police putting 11,500 officers on duty.

In a break from tradition, King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla were in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach rather than the older, more uncomfortable, Gold State Coach. The mode of transport used to transport the Royal couple back to Buckingham Palace was propelled by 8 Windsor grey horses.

The coach is housed at the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace, and it and other coaches are on view to the public. You can see where the horses and staff live on your visit.

Inside Westminster Abbey King Charles III was crowned at 12.05 with the St Edward's Crown. Made of solid 22-carat gold, the 360-year-old crown is over 30cm (1ft) tall and it’s heavy, weighing about 2.23kg, (that is nearly 5lbs). It holds 444 separate jewels and gemstones, including sapphires, rubies, amethysts and topaz. Visitors to the Tower of London can see them during any future visit in the Jewel House: Adults £29.90, concessions £24.00

On a more modest scale, our King was wearing a pair of shoes made in Kettering for the historic day. The shoes were made from leather created from calves that had grazed in a specific part of the Swiss Alps. While they might sound expensive to you and I, at £3,500, they were obviously fit a for a King.

And ten minutes later Queen Camilla was also crowned; she was wearing Queen Mary's Crown in a similar ceremony.

The major part of the service was conducted by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

A gun salute was fired by The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, stationed at Horse Guards Parade, and also a bit further down the River Thames at the Tower of London.

The crowds down on the Mall yelled out “God save the King”. The ceremony was broadcast over speakers along The Mall. The sound of corks being popped as people celebrated King Charles’ official crowning could be heard through the constant rain.

Finally at 1.00 the King and Queen came out of the Abbey, and sadly the weather was still wet, and the umbrellas were needed.

The flypast had to be scaled down because of the wet weather, and the planned assembly of the aircraft over the North Sea was deemed to be unsafe, so a scaled down version went over the Palace at exactly 2.30 to thrill the crowd on the balcony. Naturally the Red Arrows did their top class job for everyone at the end.

Let's all spare a thought for the members of the military, who had to polish up various parts of their uniforms on yet another wet Coronation day. The rain carried on into the evening in Rushden, but at least the public houses seemed busy.

Maybe you managed to stay dry for your street party, or get together? Let’s hope it worked out well. Sunday was certainly just what any doctor would order, and was sunny. Several houses made the effort and put up bunting etc, and did manage to have a good meet up with friends and family.

In Rushden a party on Sunday 7th May, was held in the Walled Garden, in Hall Park was called the 'Big Lunch' from 10.00-5.00

Workers in the UK were granted an additional bank holiday on Monday May 8th, 2023 to celebrate.

Rushden Town Band along with the NN10 Choir provided the music.

Not to be left out, Higham Ferrers was hosting its own ‘Big Lunch’ on the Market Square from midday. The weekend was saved, and the sun shone for all of the day, and Rushden weather station registered a high of nearly 21C.

To round off the Sunday, a Coronation Concert was held in front of a 20,000 crowd in front of Windsor Castle, and was broadcast around the world.

It was compered by actor Hugh Bonneville, the star of Downton Abbey and the films Paddington. Well worth a watch for the effects of the lighting show if you can view it on a catch up platform?

Long live the King.

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