Thousands of Armed Forces personnel to feature in the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla.

A musician from The Household Division, enjoys a special Coronation Big Lunch attended by broadcaster Mel Giedroyc at Wellington Barracks in London today (28 March). Image: Crown Copyright 2023 

More than 6,000 men and women of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces will participate in the historic Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla next month.

In the largest military ceremonial operation for 70 years sailors, soldiers and aviators from across the UK and the breadth of the Commonwealth will take part in two magnificent processions accompanying Their Majesties to and from Westminster Abbey, where the Coronation Service takes place.

Later in the day, military personnel will conduct a breath-taking Coronation flypast of more than 60 aircraft from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force flying over The Mall in Central London.

From military bases in all corners of the country and on His Majesty’s ships at sea, gun salutes will sound out to herald the moment when The King is crowned.

Across the coming weeks, Armed Forces personnel around the country will be busy rehearsing for their role in a display of pageantry, professionalism and pride to honour their new Commander-in-Chief, The King.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

I am incredibly proud of our brilliant military personnel who are preparing to honour centuries of military tradition by taking to the streets, skies and seas to pay tribute to our new King and Queen and mark the Coronation next month.

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 said:

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 soldiers, sailors and aviators participating in the Coronation are privileged to be part of this historic ceremony and all it represents. Thousands more servicemen and women will be watching at home and overseas, and are justly proud to wear The King’s Uniform on this special day.

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

Coronation flypast

The final crescendo following a spectacular military procession will be a six-minute flypast through the skies of London.

As they soar over The Mall in formation, aircraft from all three services will be watched on 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.

Coronation processions

Around 5,000 Armed Forces personnel will accompany their Sovereign from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey and back in two separate processions.

The first, The King’s Procession, is 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.

Travelling down The Mall to Trafalgar Square, where they’ll turn onto Whitehall before marching to Westminster Abbey, the Procession will cover 1.42 miles. Flanking them will be over 1,000 Forces route liners from all three services.

The Coronation Procession will follow the same route back to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey. Featuring nearly 4,000 personnel, this major military ceremonial operation will be the largest of its kind for a generation.

The Coronation Procession will represent the diversity and traditions of the UK and Commonwealth Armed Forces. A full-spectrum display of unique and historic uniforms whose designs are in some cases hundreds of years old, flags from across the Commonwealth and 20 different bands – all marching in exact rhythm – will demonstrate the very best of the Armed Forces. They will guide Their Majesties back to Buckingham Palace, before conducting a Royal Salute.

The Royal British Legion will provide a Guard of Honour of 100 Standard Bearers to line the procession route in Parliament Square on the day of the Coronation. The charity’s participation is in line with its support at previous significant Royal events. The Standard Bearers will represent the RBL and seven other associated Armed Forces charities; The Royal Naval Association, Royal Marines Association, Army Benevolent Fund, Air Forces Association, Royal Commonwealth and Ex Services League, Merchant Navy Association and SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity.

Gun salutes

In all corners of the Union, including at firing stations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, gun salutes will sound at the moment of The King’s Coronation to celebrate the historic moment.

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.