'Hello, your Highness, is it me you're looking for?': King Charles meets Lionel Richie at Buckingham Palace garden party

3 May 2023, 15:06 | Updated: 4 May 2023, 11:06

The King and Queen met Lionel Richie on Wednesday evening
The King and Queen met Lionel Richie on Wednesday evening. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

King Charles and Queen Camilla met Lionel Richie and other guests in the sun at the first traditional garden party of the King’s reign.

Buckingham Palace hosted around 8,000 guests on Wednesday afternoon, where attendees also had the opportunity to meet the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and the Duke of Kent.

It came less than a day after police carried out a controlled explosion outside the gates of Buckingham Palace following an incident on Tuesday night which saw a man ask to speak with a soldier before throwing shotgun cartridges over the fence.

Read more: Buckingham Palace suspect identified as dog breeder, 60, who posted tributes to the Queen after her death

Guests at Wednesday's event included 'Coronation Champions', volunteers recognised for their work by the Royal Voluntary Service, of which Camilla is the president.

Mr Richie, who is performing at the Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle on Sunday, met Charles and Camilla who laughed and smiled in separate meetings with the singer, who attended with his girlfriend Lisa Parigi.

Queen Camilla meets Lionel Richie
Queen Camilla meets Lionel Richie. Picture: Getty

He told reporters: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To be a part of it is everything.

“I’ve known His Majesty for a couple of years, so it’s fun to be here."

Richie, who has been involved with the Prince’s Trust as an ambassador since the 1980s, praised the King’s work.

He said: “Believe it or not, he cares. He’s hands on."

Although Richie did not give anything away about his upcoming performance, he said he was “excited” about the event.

He said: “Are you kidding me? This doesn’t happen every day. So, am I excited about this? Absolutely. This is not like any other time in life or any occasion.

Lionel Richie and Lisa Parigi
Lionel Richie and Lisa Parigi. Picture: Getty

“Once the lights hit and the music starts it’s just going to be magical.“I have to pinch myself. We’re walking in history.”

The King and Queen Consort were in good spirits as they shook hands and chatted with invited guests and charity representatives.

Police officers commended for acts of exceptional bravery also attended, alongside Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley.

It comes amid heightened security ahead of the Coronation on Saturday.

Undercover 'spotters' will be among 11,500 officers on-duty during the event, as the Met confirmed it is "very confident" in proposed policing plans ahead of Saturday's celebrations.

The force said it would be taking a zero tolerance approach to illegal protests over the course of the weekend, in light of recent protests by groups including Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil.

Over 29,000 police officers are set to be deployed over the Coronation weekend, with 9,000 Met officers visible on the day itself, forming part of operation Golden Orb.

The Met confirmed it is not considering Tuesday night's Buckingham Palace incident to be an act of terrorism.

Coronation crackdown: Met pledge zero tolerance on illegal protests, police 'spotters' in crowd and 11,500 on-duty officers
Coronation crackdown: Met pledge zero tolerance on illegal protests, police 'spotters' in crowd and 11,500 on-duty officers. Picture: LBC / Alamy

Noting it to be "one of the most significant and largest security operations the Met has led", the force confirmed Patrol officers will be joined by police dogs unit, firearms unit, marine support, and Special Constabulary on Saturday.

It added they are "ready to respond" to any incident or crime which may take place.

The force is also said to be considering the use of live facial recognition to identify wanted individuals, with a final decision yet to be made.

They confirmed security plans had been revisited following last night's arrest outside Buckingham Palace, adding it was "absolutely confident" that adequate plans are now in place.

Read more: First glimpse of King Charles' historic coronation parade as early morning rehearsal takes place across London

Read more: Ready for a Coronation: Smiling Charles and William join Kate and Camilla for rehearsals at Westminster Abbey

Speaking on the incident, the Met confirmed a mental health assessment took place following the man's arrest, with the individual found to be in possession of a lock knife.

After telling officers the bag he was carrying had to be handled carefully, police undertook a controlled explosion.

He is understood to have been deemed for fit for interview and mental health assessments will continue.

Police officers have a friendly chat with royal fan Faith Nicholson, who is camping out on The Mall, near Buckingham Palace in central London, ahead of the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday
Police officers have a friendly chat with royal fan Faith Nicholson, who is camping out on The Mall, near Buckingham Palace in central London, ahead of the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday. Picture: LBC / Alamy

The Met confirmed around 500 more officers on-duty compared to the day of the Queen’s funeral, despite a greater number of highly protected individuals in attendance.

Noting they "welcomed" new legislation on protests, the force confirmed the "multi-layered security operation" would include "officers lining the processional route, managing crowds and road closures, protecting high profile individuals, and carrying out searches with specialist team".

"We have been planning our operation for months working closely with partners and colleagues at British Transport and City of London Police, and Thames Valley Police.

"Colleagues from other forces will also assist us," the Met added.

It follows a second dress rehearsal in London overnight, which saw thousands of soldiers descend on The Mall, outside Buckingham Palace, for a rehearsal ahead of Saturday's Coronation.

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