Helen Vanson, a first year Adult Nursing student in the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care took part in the Coronation ceremony in her role as Royal Navy Reservist.
Helen has been a Royal Navy Reservist for the past two years. She was selected to be part of the Royal Navy Reserves marching platoon for King Charles III’s Coronation ceremony.
We spoke to Helen about her volunteering experience and what it was like to take part in making history.
How did you prepare for the Coronation?
To ensure that our platoon was perfect for the big day, our preparation consisted of three weeks of intense training and rehearsals which we did with the Royal Navy regulars and also marines. The camaraderie amongst everyone taking part was incredible and helped get me through these three weeks. I have met so many incredible individuals from all over the country as part of this experience.
During rehearsals at RAF Odiham, I was lucky enough to meet with the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key, who is head of the Royal Navy. He congratulated us and gave us all some words of encouragement for the big day.
The overnight rehearsal in London was a night I’ll never forget, from the applause and greetings we received from the commuters on their journeys home at Waterloo station to marching back over Westminster bridge at 4am to the bright lights of Big Ben.
What was the atmosphere like on the day?
On the day of the coronation, even though the weather was cloudy and wet, the atmosphere and crowds were amazing and certainly spurred us on. Stepping into the gardens of Buckingham Palace and seeing the Royal Family as we sang the National Anthem and gave three cheers for the new King Charles III is something that will stay with me forever.
How did it feel to volunteer as part of a historic event?
I feel incredibly proud and honoured to have been a part of something so special. It was experience I’ll never forget.
Explore our academics’ Coronation research
Academics at King’s are leading extensive research into the history of British Coronations – revealing what they can tell us about our past, our present and ourselves.
In this series, experts from across King’s discuss the significant traditions of these momentous British royal ceremonies.
Explore the research now