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Pride of place given for the nation’s NHS and military heroes at Westminster Abbey

NewsPride of place given for the nation’s NHS and military heroes at Westminster Abbey

Thousands of military and NHS heroes will be given pride of place during the Coronation after being offered VIP spaces in front of Buckingham Palace. They will have the best seats as the King and the Queen Consort leave the Palace in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, accompanied by the sovereign’s escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

More than 6,000 Armed Forces members will take part on May 6, making the Coronation the biggest military ceremonial operation for seven decades.

After being crowned at Westminster Abbey, Charles and Camilla will return in the Gold State Coach and appear on the Palace balcony with other members of the Royal Family to witness a spectacular six-minute flypast featuring aircraft from all three branches of the Armed Forces.

Around 3,800 seats in a specially built grandstand are being offered to veterans, NHS and social care workers, plus representatives of charitable organisations.

Huge screens will be provided in central London’s Green Park, St James’s Park and Hyde Park. Tens of thousands are expected to line the route but others will watch in the parks where facilities will include first aid points, water refill stations and toilets.

Dedicated spaces will be provided for people in wheelchairs or with other accessibility requirements.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the pomp and pageantry will “amaze” people at home and abroad.

He 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.”

The first procession will feature 200 military personnel accompanying the King and Queen on the 1.4 miles to Westminster Abbey, with 1,000 more lining the route. Nearly 4,000 will be part of the procession back to the Palace.

They will represent the diversity and traditions of the UK and Commonwealth military with flags from across the Commonwealth and music from 20 bands.

Gun salutes will be fired the moment the King is crowned. More than 400 personnel will take part in the salutes, which will be staged in 13 locations and on Royal Navy ships.

Included in the Palace flypast will be 16 helicopters, Spitfires of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAF’s brand-new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, F-35B Lightning II jets and RAF transport aircraft as well as the Red Arrows.

Rehearsals will take place over the coming weeks.

Access to the Coronation route and big screens is on a first-come-first-served basis and people will be barred from full areas.

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, the 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.”

St James’s Park will have a big screen for the May 7 Coronation concert featuring Katy Perry, Take That and Lionel Richie. People have been urged not to travel to the venue in Windsor unless they have a ticket.

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