Britons party for King Charles III's coronation

·3-min read
Thousands of street parties were taking place across the UK on Sunday to celebrate King Charles III's coronation
Thousands of street parties were taking place across the UK on Sunday to celebrate King Charles III's coronation

In the central English village of Ashley Green, Britons marking the coronation of King Charles III gathered Sunday to celebrate with traditional party food, patriotic songs and plenty of good cheer.

After rain soaked people lining the coronation procession route a day earlier, organisers were taking no chances.

The inside of the small village hall in Buckinghamshire, northwest of London, was decked out in red, white and blue bunting and balloons with long tables for 100 people.

With people bringing their own savoury food as well as a sweet dish to share, the dessert table was soon groaning under the weight of homemade delicacies.

There were huge sherry trifles, plates of scones oozing with jam and clotted cream, "summer puddings" made from bread and red berries and endless meringues.

Little girls dressed in festive colours and with Union Jack ribbons in their hair eyed the table longingly.

"I think it's lovely," Annette Cathcart, 67, told AFP. "I think you need these things to bring the community together. People spend as much or as little as they want. It's the perfect way to celebrate."

Across the UK, as many as 67,000 similar parties were taking place on Sunday as part of the coronation festivities.

Rob Barnes, 42, a retail tech boss, who was part of the community association that organised the Ashley Green event, said the best thing about the street parties was that it didn't matter if you were a monarchist or not.

"I didn't actually watch the coronation myself. My wife and my daughters did but I have mixed feelings about the royal family. It's about coming together as a community," he said, adding that it was a "very diverse group with people in their nineties and children and babes in arms".

- 'Just get on with it' -

Retired scientist and royalist Katherine Hyde told AFP the party represented the village at its best. The country needed more "community spirit", she said praising King Charles for his charity work.

Younger generations focused too much on the online world and risked "missing out" on the support that comes from meeting people in person and sharing a meal, she added.

New Zealander Graeme Nation, 50, said he was "ambivalent" about the monarchy, describing himself as a "live and let live sort of person".

He said he had come to "celebrate a little bit, but mainly to support the community, be with friends and have a nice time".

The IT manager from the nearby town of Chesham said he felt the difficult economic times the country was going through were "all the more reason to celebrate".

As for the rain, he'd "come to learn that with the great British weather you just get on with it like they did yesterday", he said.

The meal over, another volunteer stepped forward to rig up a sound system for a singalong.

Soon "Rule Britannia", "Jerusalem" and "Land of Hope and Glory" were blasting out with the community joining in enthusiastically.

"Sweet Caroline" had them up on their feet, waving their arms and swaying from side to side, before "Auld Lang Syne" and the national anthem wrapped things up.

Outside on the village green, the dark rain clouds that had been threatening to strike all day finally gave way to some intermittent sunshine.