British Soldier Who Marched at Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 Coronation Reflects on the Platinum Jubilee

Amid the Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year-reign as British monarch, retired Capt. Andrew Clark of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment recalled the day all of it started — and the position he performed himself. When the queen was topped on June 2, 1953, he marched within the procession.

Clark, born in Coventry in 1934, was known as up for Nationwide Service in November 1952.

“At the moment after we joined up, we had been resulting from serve two years with the colors — that’s full time army service – and three ½ years on reserve, and in order that’s how the entire thing kicked off,” he stated.

A photograph of Andrew Clark taken on the day he marched at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. (Courtesy Andrew Clark)

Marching On the Coronation

Serving with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he was chosen for infantry officer cadet college and was collaborating in a 16-week course when he was chosen to march within the coronation.

“I simply occurred to be picked out,” he stated. “We went on Sunday by practice right down to London and stayed within the Mons Officer Cadet Faculty in Aldershot as a result of subsequent morning we wanted to coach the right way to march 12 abreast and the right way to get by way of Marble Arch. That every one occurred on the Monday. The subsequent day was the coronation itself.”

He estimated that attendees of the coronation ceremony had been in Westminster Abbey by 6:30 a.m. The troops themselves arrived later.

“We had been truly not required in London till the queen was topped — that was the time we had been introduced as much as consideration,” he stated. “We needed to be there.”

Clark recalled that the queen stopped for lunch earlier than the procession to Buckingham Palace. The troopers had lunch equipped for them.

“There was a well-known chain of cafes known as Lion’s Nook Home, they usually offered a packed lunch for us — what I distinctly keep in mind was two barley sugars!”

Very similar to at the moment’s jubilee festivities, the coronation procession drew huge crowds and wild fanfare. Though it rained within the afternoon, Clark stated, the climate didn’t dampen folks’s spirits.  

“We had been supporting her. Large numbers of individuals lined the route. We hadn’t actually had something like that earlier than, even for the marriage,” he stated.

“It was one in all my proudest moments. Not many individuals can say they really bodily marched within the coronation,” he stated. “I marched within the coronation representing infantry officer cadets at that cut-off date.”

Remembering Prince Philip and George VI

Clark was commissioned on Aug. 1, 1953 into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Each of his dad and mom had been docs — his mom an ophthalmic surgeon and his father a common practitioner. His paternal grandfather was a grasp tailor who labored on behalf of Hugh Cecil Lowther, the fifth earl of Lonsdale. His maternal grandfather was a missionary and doctor.

“Inside my household, with out realizing it, I do inherit traditions of service,” he stated.

He was a baby throughout World Battle II, and was stored protected from German bombings at boarding college in Cumbria and subsequently in Wales. He recalled a time when royal occasions had been extra interwoven with every day life, such because the event of Princess Elizabeth’s marriage to Prince Philip on Nov. 20, 1947. Then attending Bromsgrove college in Worcestershire, he and different college students had been permitted to go house for the event.

“Similar to this weekend, there was an additional vacation to mark that wedding ceremony,” he stated. “Although I had already had seven years of boarding and was fairly used to being a boarder, that was a really nice reduction to me.”

He additionally vividly remembered the dying of King George VI. He and fellow Bromsgrove college students gathered for a solemn memorial at their college chapel, which included a memorial constructed to commemorate all of the boys who’d been killed in World Battle I.

“Once we heard that King George VI had died, we went to an extended service at chapel and we sang this hymn that also sticks in my thoughts: “The strife is o’er, the battle finished,” he stated. “It was a really distinctive and memorable service for him.”

Army Service in Korea and Egypt

As a soldier, Clark deployed to Korea on Sept. 20, 1953, at age 19, setting sail from Southampton. Initially the troops had been held again in Hong Kong to abide by the phrases of the armistice signed on July 27, 1953. He did finally journey to Korea and was stationed under the thirty eighth parallel.

“There have been plenty of American troops there they usually had some excellent rations. However we [British] had entry to alcohol — gin, whiskey and issues,” he stated. “We’d commerce our gin and alcohol for fantastic rations.”

He expressed nice admiration for the folks of South Korea.

“It offers me huge satisfaction that right here was this nation, which we finally got here house from, with not a constructing standing, and it subsequently developed from an aid-borrowing nation into an aid-giving nation,” he stated. “South Korea rehoused its residents and received its business going. They’ve even run the G-7 and the winter and summer season Olympic video games. It’s simply extraordinary.”

After Korea, Clark deployed to Egypt, arriving at Port Mentioned after an extended journey by ship and being assigned to protect a bit of the Suez Canal. He met Discipline Marshal Bernard Montgomery there.

“Monty truly got here to fulfill us in Egypt in July 1954. It was the primary time he’d been within the Center East because the finish of the struggle,” he stated. “There was a particular parade for him.”

Clark, who studied Latin in class, associates a quote from the primary guide of Virgil’s “Aeneid” with British troopers’ victory in North Africa after their quite a few wartime hardships. “’Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit’ means ‘maybe sooner or later even these items might be good to recollect,’” Clark stated. “How can a person write that 2,000 years in the past? I let you know there have been troopers who supported Monty who met for 30 years within the Albert Corridor, as a result of ‘forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.’ It’s unimaginable for those who see it that method.”  

Clark returned to the U.Okay. in November 1954 and labored for Alfred Herbert Ltd., a Coventry-based engineering firm. He married Wendy, additionally from Coventry, on Might 9, 1964. They’d two kids, Judith and Fiona. 

Persevering with Help for the Queen and Her Legacy

The coronation march was not the final time that Clark would encounter the Queen. He was chosen to hold the colours throughout a March 23, 1956, ceremony during which the Queen positioned the inspiration stone for a brand new Coventry cathedral.

The ceremony was particularly poignant, because it noticed the beginnings of a brand new cathedral rising beside the ruins of the previous cathedral destroyed by the Luftwaffe throughout World Battle II on Nov. 14, 1940.

“For folks like me, the queen can’t do something mistaken. She’s wonderful,” Clark stated. “She has completely finished vital issues for the nation. She additionally binds us all collectively.”  

He stated that he admires the queen for her travels to construct bridges with many various nations, together with america. He additionally loved watching her work together on the balcony through the Platinum Jubilee celebrations with Prince William’s kids, particularly the younger Prince Louis.

“The traditions are vital as a result of they’re cohesive and maintain issues collectively,” he stated. “I believe it’s good.”

Clark’s daughter Fiona stated her father was a hero for his custom of service.

“I’m pleased with him,” she stated. “And I don’t suppose he realizes how proud I’m of him.”