With their path lit by the streetlamps of London, 4000 military personnel marched down The Mall in a midnight dress rehearsal for the Coronation Precession of King Charles III.
CAPTION: Australia’s Federation Guard members march with the Commonwealth contingent into Buckingham Palace gardens during a night rehearsal for the King’s Coronation. Photo by Sergeant Andrew Sleeman.
With pride in their home nations showing in every step, the Commonwealth contingent, including Australia’s Federation Guard, rehearsed each movement of the procession rehearsal.
At nearly 2am on Wednesday 3 May, the contingent marched out of the Wellington Barracks gates to its position.
For some of the 40 Australian personnel, including Able Seaman Tegan Connelly, it was their first sight of Buckingham Palace.
“Being in location at Wellington Barracks for this rehearsal makes everything feel real,” Able Seaman Connelly said.
“It’s a privilege to be here.
“I am nervous – very nervous, but also excited.
“Once I am out there the adrenaline will kick in.”
With the coronation just a few days away, the contingent was starting to feel reality set in.
Army’s Corporal Jonathan Apps said everyone was excited.
“We have done a lot of rehearsal leading up to now and it’s starting to feel like it’s becoming real,” Corporal Apps said.
Leading Aircraftwoman Hunter Westbrook felt similarly about marching under the stars, having spent the previous week practising every step.
“We’ve done about 45 kilometres over the past couple of days, so my feet are definitely feeling it, but it’s been really good,” Leading Aircraftwoman Westbrook said.
“I can’t say I’ve done many night rehearsals in my time in Defence, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I’m trying to soak up as much as I can.”
Finishing up as the sun began to rise, the Australian contingent was feeling proud.
“The rehearsal was great, cold, very good and very long, but it’s all worth it,” Able Seaman Connelly said.
As the sun rose, London’s early risers lined the streets to catch a glimpse of what Saturday’s procession might look like.
Next time the Australian contingent completes this route, it will be alongside the newly crowned King and Queen, surrounded by thousands of cheering onlookers.