Sailors and Royal Marines from RNAS Culdrose are among those speaking of their pride at the ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to take part in next month’s Coronation.

Nearly 900 Royal Navy personnel will march through or line the streets of London on May 6, as well as oversee and support the huge ceremonial effort.

They are undergoing the final days of drill and preparation at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth, HMS Sultan in Gosport and HMS Collingwood in Fareham – the culmination of months of planning for the Coronation by the Royal Navy.

For the Navy, the parade is a chance to honour and celebrate ‘one of its own’: the then Prince of Wales served between 1971 and 1976, rising to command minesweeper HMS Bronington before returning to Royal duties.

He has also made a number of visits to Culdrose’s Helston base, where his brother Andrew completed helicopter training.

The Coronation will also see the largest number of Royal Marines on parade in nearly a decade – and an opportunity for the Corps to march for the first time for their new Captain General, an honorary title famously held for decades by the King’s late father.

And sailors from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – the Navy’s crucial support arm, operating ships worldwide to sustain the global mission – will provide a marching platoon and street liners.


Given the significance of the occasion – the first in 70 years – many personnel of all ranks and branches, drawn from ships, submarines, Fleet Air Arm squadrons, Royal Marines units and bases throughout the UK have volunteered to participate.

Able Seaman Atupele Mkulichi, from Malawi, joined the Navy 12 months ago and works in the administration centre of RNAS Culdrose in Helston, Cornwall.

She said: “This is a monumental occasion, one I am very, very proud to be playing a part in. It’s a privilege to be involved. I feel I am not just representing the Navy, but the Commonwealth as well.

“The training has been going very well. Everyone has been working extremely hard to make sure it is crisp on the day.”

All have undergone intensive ceremonial training under a 16-strong team of sailors and Royal Marines – most of whom drilled personnel for duties in September for the funeral of Her Majesty The Queen.

Falmouth Packet: Ceremonial uniform is fitted for the occasionCeremonial uniform is fitted for the occasion (Image: Royal Navy)

The training has been overseen by Warrant Officer 1 Darren Wearing, the Navy’s State Ceremonial Training Officer who has prepared personnel for major public events, such as Royal weddings and the annual Remembrance parade past the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

The officer leading the entire Naval contingent marching on the day will be marine engineering officer Captain Sophie Shaughnessy, for whom the parade will be her duty in uniform after 29 years’ service around the world before she leaves the Royal Navy.

“Everyone involved is looking forward to the day – they are all ‘up for it’,” she said. “Right across the Royal Navy, the Coronation is a shared experience. We all share pride in serving in the Navy.

“For me, it’s a career I’ve loved – and my last day is marching for our Commander-in-Chief and King on his Coronation. That makes it a very special day.”


Later in the day, Royal Navy Merlin and Wildcats will take to the skies of the capital, joining fellow aviators from the Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps in the traditional flypast down The Mall and over Buckingham Palace.

In addition to Royal Navy personnel involved in ceremonial aspects of Operation Golden Orb, more than 300 personnel are providing logistical support on the ground both to the military and civilian authorities, including medics, police, drivers, liaison teams and command and control experts.

And away from the capital, gun salutes will be fired at HM Naval Bases Portsmouth and Devonport while Royal Navy ships on deployment around the globe will also be saluting with their ceremonial guns.