Coronation will see largest ceremonial display of armed forces in a generation

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The coronation of the King and Queen Consort will see the largest military ceremonial operation in 70 years, with more than 6,000 men and women of the UK’s armed forces taking part in the historic royal event.

Sailors, soldiers, and aviators from across the UK and the breadth of the Commonwealth will accompany Charles and Camilla to and from Westminster Abbey – where the coronation service will take place on May 6.

Later in the day, military personnel will conduct a six-minute flypast of more than 60 aircraft from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force – flying over The Mall in central London.

Featuring more than 400 personnel, across 13 locations and deployed Royal Navy ships, 21 rounds will fire to mark the coronation with the exception of the Tower of London and Horse Guards Parade, where a 62-round salute and a six-gun salvo will fire respectively.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he is “incredibly proud of our brilliant military personnel”, adding: “As they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Commonwealth friends and allies, I know the hard work of thousands of our servicemen and women during the past weeks and months will culminate in an incredible display that will amaze crowds at home and across the world.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace noted the operation will be “spectacular”, saying: “We can be enormously proud of the professionalism and precision of our armed forces as they honour His Majesty, their new commander-in-chief.

“From the procession on The Mall, to the flypast over London, with gun salutes at sea and across the country, it will be a spectacular and fitting tribute and a privilege to take part in for all those involved and watching from afar.”

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, chief of the Defence Staff, said: “The contribution of the armed forces to the coronation symbolises unyielding service to King and country.

“It reflects centuries of tradition, but is indicative of the integral role the armed forces play in modern Britain and the extraordinary ways we support the nation, whether deterring aggression and maintaining stability worldwide or strengthening our domestic resilience and prosperity.

The Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Tony Radakin
The chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Tony Radakin (Alastair Grant/PA)

Nearly 400 armed forces personnel from at least 35 Commonwealth countries will also be on parade to mark the historic moment.

For the flypast through the skies of London, which will be watched by members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – the Red Arrows – will follow dozens of aircraft used by the armed forces on operations around the world.

Featured amongst the aerial procession will be aircraft that have delivered support to Ukraine, policed Nato airspace, supported disaster relief, deterred drug trafficking and countered terrorism in the Middle East and Africa.

Included will be 16 helicopters, the historic Spitfires of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAF’s brand-new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, Joint RAF and RN crewed state-of-the art F-35B Lightning II jets and transport aircraft from the RAF’s Air Mobility Force.

It will feature the first flypast involvement of the RAF’s new Envoy IV CC1 aircraft.

Trooping the Colour parade
The RAF Red Arrows perform a flypast over Buckingham Palace (Chris Ison/PA)

The first, the King’s Procession, will be the smaller in scale of the two and will feature just under 200 members, centred around The Sovereign’s Escort of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

The second, the coronation procession, will follow the same route back to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey, and will represent the diversity and traditions of the UK and Commonwealth armed forces, featuring nearly 4,000 personnel.

It is expected to be the largest military ceremonial operation of its kind for a generation.

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