The Australian Defence Force took great pride in their place in the Coronation of their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
CAPTION: Royal Australian Air Force Corporal Tegan Ross from Australia’s Federation Guard with representatives from Commonwealth countries escort the Gold State Coach during the Procession following the Coronation of King Charles III. Story by Lieutenant Commander John Thompson and Flight Lieutenant Lily Lancaster. Photo by Sergeant Andrew Sleeman.
The King and Queen were crowned in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey in front of thousands of guests, including Corporal Daniel Keighran VC and Keith Payne VC who formed part of the Order of Chivalry procession.
“It was a huge privilege to have played even a small part in the service, and an absolute honour to be there with Keith representing our brave service men and women past and present,” Corporal Keighran said.
Millions watched on from the streets of London and from television screens around the world.
About 40 Australian soldiers, sailors and aviators formed part of the 600-strong Commonwealth contingent from nearly 40 nations and led the Coronation Procession from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace.
Petty Officer William Garlick said the highlight for him was hearing the crowd cheering ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ as they marched past.
“That certainly brought a little bit of home to England,” Petty Officer Garlick said.
“It is an honour to come back to the United Kingdom after having marched at Her Majesty The Queen’s funeral.
“The atmosphere this time around was very different – less solemn and more joyous.
“You could see the pride in the smiles on everyone’s faces and you could hear it in the cheers of the crowd.
“It is definitely something that will stay with me for a long time.”
The contingent marched in alphabetical order with Antigua and Australia at the front of the Commonwealth Procession and Zambia bringing up the rear.
They were followed by 4000 British troops, with a further 2000 lining the streets between the Abbey and the Palace.
Corporal Tegan Ross and Bombardier Michael Nona marched alongside the King and Queen in the 260-year-old Gold State Coach.
“It was everything I thought it would be and more,” Corporal Ross said.
“I will cherish this moment for the rest of my life.”
“It was pretty exhilarating and pretty surreal,” Bombardier Nona said.
“It all came together with the crowds, the atmosphere and the flyover.
“This experience will be the highlight of my career.”
Australia’s Federation Guard Officer Commanding Squadron Leader Mitchell Brown was pleased that all the training paid off.
“I’m so proud of the Federation Guard members here representing all three services,” Squadron Leader Brown said.
“They have been training hard since we arrived last Thursday – most from Anzac Day services in Türkiye, France and Belgium.
“We have enjoyed marching with our friends from fellow Commonwealth defence forces over the past week, and clocked up about 75 kilometres of training leading up to the big day.”
Australian Defence Force personnel weren’t just on foot.
Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Daniel Cochrane, on exchange to the Royal Navy’s 820 Naval Air Squadron, flew as a crew member aboard a Merlin MK2 helicopter.
“It was surreal,” Lieutenant Cochrane said.
“There were a lot of changes to the plan due to the weather, but we got there in the end.”
The clouds in the sky did not impact the bright atmosphere as Australian soldiers, sailors and aviators proudly marched into Buckingham Palace gardens to give three cheers to the newly-crowned King and Queen.
“It was raining but that did not dampen spirits at all,” Squadron Leader Brown said.
“It was just an extraordinary day.”