King Charles’s coronation rehearsal lights up London night

LONDON-Members of the UK’s armed forces have paraded through the streets of central London during the night in a full dress rehearsal for the King’s coronation. The procession will feature more than 6,000 men and women from the UK and Commonwealth countries. Dressed in military attire, military personnel practised their positions in rows on horseback and on foot in preparation for Saturday’s event, accompanying the Gold State Coach on its journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. Royal fanatics waited for more than three hours for the parade to make a return journey down the Mall. Crowds ran through St James’ Park to find the best spots near the palace with many trying to spot their relatives in their military outfits. Harking from Canada, Australia, France and beyond, many international royal fans are celebrating King Charles III’s coronation by heading to London, a city that knows how to capitalise on its most famous residents. “It’s a dream come true!” explained 24-year-old French woman Ludivine Decker, a few days before leaving for London. Originally from Metz in northeastern France, the communications worker will make the trip alone as her friends don’t share her passion for the British royal family.  Too young to visit the UK for William and Kate’s 2011 wedding and still a student during Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee last year, the coronation is “a now or never” moment to attend a royal celebration, she told AFP. She plans to watch on one of the giant screens installed in the heart of the capital and to be in front of Buckingham Palace to see the king and his close family make their balcony appearance. Decker is expecting a “festive” and “family” atmosphere, and will be stocking up on souvenirs for the historic event. London already hosts millions of international tourists each year, and could attract an extra 250,000 for the coronation, according to the Centre for Retail Research.  They are expected to spend more than £322 million ($401 million) on accommodation, food, shopping and attractions. Anna Bloomfield, an Australian in her forties, has already arrived in London ahead of the ceremony. She admires King Charles “for everything that he has had to endure just being a part of the royal family”. Bloomfield has packed a tent for her own endurance test -- waiting in all weathers to secure a prime spot to watch the royal couple pass.  Kathryn, a 54-year-old executive assistant from Toronto, Canada, can’t wait to experience the “pomp and ceremony which the British are famous for”. The royal fanatic also wants to “show my support” for Charles.
“He has already shown his desire to modernise, streamline, cut excess and make the modern day royal family resemble the cultural and religious make-up of Britain today,” she said.
“He is open-minded, defends the environment, he lives in his time”, added Decker, who praised the “humanity” of Charles’ charity works.