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Crowds begin to gather in London ahead of the coronation of King Charles

‘You have to witness these things with your own eyes, the TV doesn’t do it justice’
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The Royally Big Portrait, a giant digital portrait of Britain’s King Charles III that features hundreds of thousands of individual portraits of the King drawn by people across the UK is displayed at Outernet in London, Monday, May 1, 2023. Crowds from all over the world are beginning to gather in London ahead of the Saturday coronation of King Charles III. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth

Crowds from all over the world — including Canada — were beginning to gather in London on Monday ahead of the coronation of King Charles.

A group of diehard royal fans have already staked out their spots along the path to the palace, where they said they’ll be camping on the sidewalk to ensure they get the best view for Saturday’s procession.

Maria Scott, from northeastern England, said she doesn’t want to miss a single moment of the atmosphere — from the military bands to the chance of seeing the King and Queen Consort ride by in the famous gold coach.

“You have to witness these things with your own eyes, the TV doesn’t do it justice,” said Scott, who has been camping at Royal events since 2011.

Scott chatted with fellow camper Patrick O’Neill, from Belfast, who wore a plastic crown and draped himself in Union Jacks as the group used a tarp to protect their belongings from the occasional rain shower.

Both are big fans of King Charles as well as Camilla, the Queen Consort, who they feel doesn’t get the credit she deserves for her charity work and support of her husband.

“He’s just a remarkable man,” O’Neill said of King Charles.

A Canadian flag was among those fluttering above the road leading to Buckingham Palace, where metal barricades have been set up in anticipation of the crowds.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to be among the Canadians making the trip to London for the coronation, which will also be attended by a group of First Nations leaders from Manitoba.

The leaders also plan to meet with Crown representatives “to discuss the importance of the Treaty relationship and speak to the monarch’s role as it relates to First Nation issues moving forward,” a joint statement from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Southern Chiefs’ Organization, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Anishininew Okimawin, and the Assembly of First Nations Manitoba Regional Office said.

RCMP members on horseback will also ride in the procession that will bring King Charles and Camilla to Westminster Abbey for Saturday’s coronation ceremony.

The Prince’s Trust Canada, a charity established by King Charles, will also send a delegation that includes Jay Patel, a 21-year-old man who found employment through the group’s youth employment initiative.

Outside Buckingham palace, tourists snapped selfies on Monday while a child ran around with a flag featuring an image of King Charles’ face.

A few streets away, a souvenir seller near Westminster Abbey said coronation merchandise was selling quickly, with the flags being best-sellers. While the area is always popular with tourists, he said the size of the crowds make it clear the coronation is bringing tourists to the city.

Not everyone was swept up in the coronation excitement, however. Outside Buckingham Palace, a small handful of protesters wore cardboard masks with King Charles and Camilla’s faces on them, as they unfurled a banner that read “They don’t care if you starve.”

Eleanor Tennyson, a graduate student, said she and her friends wanted to show that “not everyone is in agreement with the monarchy.”

She said many people in the United Kingdom are faced with a cost of living crisis that has left them struggling to afford their bills, as well as high energy costs due to the war in Ukraine.

“This is not the time to spend millions of pounds on a celebration that doesn’t reflect society as it is,” she said. “It’s completely out of touch.”

The coronation takes place on May 6 at Westminster Abbey and will be followed by a concert and various community events.

A special Canadian celebration is also being held in Ottawa, while several provinces have also announced events to mark the occasion.

While this coronation is expected to be more scaled-back than that of Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953, Scott and O’Neill believe there will still be plenty of pomp and circumstance.

This ceremony will also include two coronations in one, because Camilla is being crowned alongside her husband, O’Neill noted.

“I’m so happy to be among great friends and we’re celebrating this together,” he said. “It’s a moment in history.”

—Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: ‘You couldn’t get away from it’: 1953 Coronation was major topic at Canadian schools

READ MORE: Ancient ritual, drones, a star-packed concert: What we know about the coronation





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