King Charles surprises crowd outside Buckingham Palace

LONDON (AP) — King Charles III. surprised cheering fans who gathered outside Buckingham Palace on Friday, a day before his coronationas the finishing touches were made in preparation for an occasion that London failed to celebrate in 70 years.

People in the crowd shouted his name as Charles climbed out of a chauffeur-driven Bentley in a blue suit. A person was heard shouting “God save the King” as the British monarch approached the crowd lined up behind a barricade.

Charles thanked the well-wishers for coming and shook hands as he slowly moved down the line.

Theresa Iredale, who wears a plastic crown, said she trembled as the king approached her after screaming his name.

“I saw his hand come to mine and I thought, ‘I can’t believe I’m shaking the hand of the king,'” she said.

King Charles III greets well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace in London on Friday 5 May 2023, a day before his coronation at Westminster Abbey.
King Charles III greets well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace in London on Friday 5 May 2023, a day before his coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Prince William, heir to the throne, and his wife Kate also greeted the public during the tour, speaking to fans across the Mall, posing for selfies and chatting.

The royals stopped after a lunch following the final rehearsal for Charles’ coronation service at Westminster Abbey on Saturday morning.

Charles automatically assumed the throne when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died last year. The religious ceremony the coronation represents his formal coronation.

The celebration took months to prepare, choreographed down to the smallest detail and includes a huge security operation.

Aside from the massive planning, Charles tries to stay relevant support of the monarchy has declined, especially among a younger generation who are less concerned with their traditions. His coronation comes as some question the high cost of public funds – no estimate is yet available – during a cost-of-living crisis that has landed many Britons in trouble.

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On Thursday, William and Kate, the Prince and Princess of Wales, took a subway and went to a pub in Soho ahead of the coronation.

The crowd in front of the palace has been growing for a few days visitors from all over the world gathering to witness history as the youngest monarch is crowned in a tradition that stretches back more than 1,000 years.

Fans of the royal family dressed in the red, white and blue of the Union Jack, waved flags, wore complete outfits made from the distinctive pattern and one man had it painted on his face.

Many of those gathered had already set up camp or planned to spend the night hoping for a prime seat for Saturday’s procession and perhaps a glimpse of the newly crowned monarch and Queen Camilla, his wife, arriving from the balcony upon their return of the palace waved ceremony.

Those expecting just a glimpse of the king were richly rewarded for meeting him in person.

“Absolutely amazing, just surreal,” said Gillian Holmes.

“My daughter said her legs were shaking, she was in shock,” Holmes said. “I never dreamed that I would meet the king. I can not believe it.”

Throughout the day, rail passengers across the UK were greeted with a recorded message from the King as they boarded trains wishing them and their families “a wonderful Coronation weekend”.

The message ended with Charles delivering the well-known warning passengers receive before boarding or exiting subways and trains: “And remember, please watch the gap.”

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