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King Charles in coronation rehearsal as Harry and Andrew to play no role in event

King Charles meets members of the public on The Mall (POOL/AFP/Getty)
King Charles meets members of the public on The Mall (POOL/AFP/Getty)

King Charles and senior royals held last-minute coronation rehearsals followed by a walkabout on Friday as it emerged neither Prince Harry nor Prince Andrew will play any formal role in the ceremony.

Meanwhile, William and Kate joined the monarch for a stroll on The Mall to meet crowds braving the British weather ahead of the historic event.

Charles shook dozens of outstretched hands and smiled when a man asked if he was nervous for the Westminster Abbey setpiece.

Hundreds of millions worldwide are expected to watch on television – a drier choice as forecasters predicted heavy rain showers that could see the planned fly-past called off.

Buckingham Palace confirmed Harry and Andrew will attend the service but will not perform any duties and will be absent from the procession behind the Gold State Coach carrying the newly-crowned King and Queen from Westminster Abbey back to Buckingham Palace.

All eyes will be on Harry as he faces his relatives in public for the first time since he criticised Charles, Camilla and the Prince and Princess of Wales in his tell-all memoir Spare.

Meghan remains at home in California with their children, Archie and Lili, celebrating Archie’s fourth birthday which falls on the same day.

Harry will make a quick exit, flying back to the US to mark Archie’s birthday, and is expected to attend only the abbey ceremony.

Andrew stepped down from public life after his disastrous Newsnight interview in November 2019 and the furore over his friendship with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Crowds meet the Princess of Wales on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace (Reuters)
Crowds meet the Princess of Wales on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace (Reuters)

The coronation involves Britain’s biggest ceremonial military operation since the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.

The Mall is decorated with huge union flags and others from the Commonwealth and crash barriers and other crowd control measures are in place.

Theresa Iredale, who turns 66 on Saturday, wore a plastic crown for her encounter with Charles. She said: “He said, ‘thank you for coming’ and he appreciated it and I did say it was my birthday and he said, ‘oh, congratulations’.

“I was shaking. I saw his hand coming out to mine and I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m shaking the King’s hand’. A special moment.”

With Prince George set to play a starring role and Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis expected to attend, the Princess of Wales revealed her children were “a bit nervous” and “excited” and could not wait for the day.

Prince William meets well-wishers on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace on Friday (Reuters)
Prince William meets well-wishers on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace on Friday (Reuters)

She and William posed for selfies and chatted to well-wishers, telling one she had an early start but the occasion “is a great moment for celebration”.

When one woman told William she had flown from Phoenix, Arizona, and would be camping out in The Mall overnight, he replied “No way, well done you.”

He added with a smile: “There’s not much sleeping going on around here, they’re all sat in their chairs. I think there’s a good party atmosphere.”

With rain forecast for Saturday he put his hands together and said: “I pray you guys stay dry.”

Meanwhile, the King joined realm prime ministers and governors general for lunch before heading to a Commonwealth heads of government leaders meeting.

There were 42 at the lunch, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, and prime minister of New Zealand Chris Hipkins.

Guests arrived in the white drawing room before a drinks reception in the music room followed by lunch in the blue drawing room.

In Wales, one town’s coronation party had to be cancelled after organisers failed to raise any money to cover costs, claiming there was a “lack of interest”.

Caldicot was due to host a celebration in the town centre complete with big screen and children’s entertainment, but with just over a week to go the event was axed.

Caldicot Town Team said a crowdfunding page had been running for 16 days, but despite being promoted on social media it had “failed to raise any money whatsoever”.