Part 1 of a two part update from someone taking part in the ceremonial event
Having left Northolt at 7AM in (very refreshing) light drizzle, we arrived at Wellington Barracks at 9AM (rush hour!) However there was an audiable groan at 1015 when it was revealed the temperature was now a balmy 28 deg!!
At 1026 and 40 secs (precisely) the RAF Central Band led the QCS, UAS's and the RAF Standards out of Wellington Barracks to be greeted by X,000's who had just watched Changing of the Guard . . ..
Within seconds, we were marching past Buckingham Palace on our left and the Victoria Memorial on our right before entering Green Park via Canada Gate
Here the QCS and UAS continued on as the Stnds & Escorts had a brief wait. During the wait,we experienced the bizzare sight of being greeted by HRH Duke of York & Duke of Wessex who "had decided to walk" to the event as it was a nice day and they simply stopped to chat!! (followed by several "suits and earpieces")
Then we marched up to the memorial passing the Salute Area on the left, & Joe Public on the right, the applause was terrrific and well appreciated
Finally making to the memorial, I nearly lost my toecaps to the Royal Bentley when HMTQ arrived as her car was very close! Utter honour to carry out Royal Salute present arms to HMTQ
Although the QCS were on parade, the honour of Standard Escorts fell to 18 Sqn Odiham and 78 Sqn Benson both ex BC Sqns
78 Sqn by pure luck gained pole position in being immediately L/R of the memorial (I was 1st on the right - if looking at the statues)
Facing the veterans I was infront of the Kiwi or Ausssie wheelchair contingent - I also managed to clock several Poles and a Maple Leaf badge being prouldy worn
Apart from the obvious veteran and some multi national uniforms a sea of faces and far too many TV cameras stared back at me
After the flypasts / poppydrop, a march off left wheel saw 78 Sqn lead off one group of standards to the left back the way we came, whilst 18 Sqn led the far group down Constitution Hill
From our group 83 yr old Ron Pearson carrying the BCA Stnd was led back to the memorial (via Picadilly) to meet HMTQ
More marching back to Canada Gate amid even more cheering and applause on the return leg
Arrived back at Benson at 6PM utterly shattered but very proud
secind installment to follow shortly . . . .