7 May, 2023 @ 13:04
2 mins read

RBL standard bearer and Olive Press staffer recounts his day at the King’s Coronation

King Charles Iii Coronation
King Charles III is crowned with St Edward's Crown during his coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey, London. Picture date: Saturday May 6, 2023.

LIFELONG memories, a huge smile on his face, a sense of pride and a stiff right arm are the legacy of King Charles III’s Coronation for one Olive Press staffer who took part in the historic event.

Matt Jones, a 48-year-old sales representative for the Olive Press, who lives in the down to earth and humble Andalucian village of Alozaina, was whisked into a world  of royalty, pomp and pageantry to line up alongside 99 other Royal British Legion RBL standard bearers who provided a guard of honour lining the streets for the procession.

King Charles Iii Coronation
King Charles III and Queen Camilla are carried in the Gold State Coach. Photo: Cordon Press

“It was an absolutely amazing experience. It was such an honour and privilege for the RBL to be asked to be part of it. We were the only non-military organisation to be asked to do so. The reaction from the crowds was brilliant. They were clapping and cheering the RBL.

“I am still buzzing from the whole day.”

Matt was not the only expat involved. Mary Kemp, 57 who lives in Alicante and originally from Crowborough in Sussex via many years in Germany, carried the standard for District Spain North RBL.

She joined Matt, who represented District Spain South, to bear their RBL branches’ standards up the Strand  past the Cenotaph to take up station by Westminster Abbey.

Rbl Coronation Matt Jones Dunbar Court 2 Matt Jones Mary Kemp
Matt and Mary

Matt said: “We stood within five feet of the parades as royalty proceeded past – we could not have been closer. No one had a better view! Except of course we had to do eyes front the whole time! But we could still take in what was happening!”

He added: “The only problem was it was raining so much. Those standards weigh around 12 kilos dry. Once wet they felt like they weighed a ton. You can imagine how sore my right arm is today after hours of holding the standard.

King Charles Iii Coronation
The rain failed to dampen spirits. photo: Cordon Press.

“But of course it was all worthwhile. It is such a small price to pay for being part of such an incredible moment of history; to honour your King and represent your colleagues in the RBL.”

It was a long day for the 100 RBL standard bearers. They were bussed to Whitehall at 7am where they mustered for a 100 yard procession to Horse Guards Parade. “Just this was an honour in itself – a civilian organisation being permitted to be on the ground,” said Matt.

From there they marched to Westminster Abbey to proudly stand with their standards, before a short rest during the Coronation service itself. They were directed to Dunbar Court for a cup of tea and a sandwich, before returning to their posts.

King Charles Iii Coronation
As the King was crowned, Matt (below) managed to grab a quick sandwich.
Rbl Coronation Matt Jones Dunbar Court Sandwich

Following the King’s departure, the RBL members broke ranks to head back to their hotel where they were presented with certificates of appreciation before sitting down to a gala dinner.

Rbl Coronation Matt Jones Dunbar Court Certificate

Matt admitted: “I am so happy it went so well. It was nerve wracking leading up to it. We didn’t have long to prepare for the event, just a few hours of practice. I had to learn how to march in step as I have never been in the military. In the end the adrenaline saw us through.”

He continued: “But we all helped each other and worked as a unit. Everyone looked after their colleagues’ backs. If you had a shirt not tucked in, or a tie askew, a friendly tap on the shoulder would be given, and everything sorted out.

And to cap off the longest – and possible best – day of his life, Matt, who has lived 13 years in Spain, managed to reacquaint himself with some decent English beer. “We were not allowed a drink in the days leading up to the coronation, but after the gala dinner it was straight down the pub.

“It was a great day to be British, and a great day to drink British beer!”


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