Thousands of well-wishers line Royal Mile as final act of King Charles' Coronation plays out in Scotland

5 July 2023, 18:06

Thousands of well-wishers lined the Royal Mile as a service of thanksgiving for the King was held at St Giles
Thousands of well-wishers lined the Royal Mile as a service of thanksgiving for the King was held at St Giles. Picture: Getty
Gina Davidson

By Gina Davidson

Ten months ago, Scotland led the world in mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth. Today it played out the final act of the Coronation of her son King Charles III.

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Thousands of well-wishers lined the Royal Mile as a service of thanksgiving for the King was held at St Giles, the same cathedral which bore witness to scenes of grief when tens of thousands passed through to pay their respects to the Queen as she lay in state.

On the third day of “Royal Week” which had already seen the annual Ceremony of the Keys and a rather washed-out Garden Party, the sun finally shone as Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile lived up to its name in a day which was full of ancient symbols and rituals.

The Honours of Scotland, the crown jewels, left Edinburgh Castle at the head of a People’s Procession, led by the Lord Lyon.

Around 100 people from various aspects of Scottish life walked down the Esplanade and into the Lawnmarket, with more than 700 members of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force also taking part.

As they made their way to the cathedral, at the other end, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the new King and Queen Camilla, as well as the Prince and Princess of Wales - known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland - were driven to the same destination.

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Royals take in Red Arrows flypast following Thanksgiving service

During the ceremony, which was eight weeks since the Westminster Abbey Coronation, King Charles was presented with the symbols of his authority in Scotland - the gold crown, the silver-gilt sceptre which were first used together for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543.

But there was a new sword of state - the Elizabeth Sword, which was presented by Olympian Katherine Grainger - and the Stone of Destiny also featured in a day of pomp, pageantry and prayer.

Leading figures and representatives from Scotland the nation's life were in attendance, and heard the Right Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, deliver the sermon, which took the environment as one of its themes.

She told the congregation that society will be on the "right track" if we understand that "the Heavens and Earth" are not "human commodities or possessions".

"Blessed are we, on the right track are we, when we understand that our children do not inherit this Earth from us - we have borrowed it from them," she said.

"And it is our duty to return it still singing and surging and bathing, not baking to a crisp."

ing Charles III is presented with the Sceptre by Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk during the National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication for King Charles III and Queen Camilla
ing Charles III is presented with the Sceptre by Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk during the National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication for King Charles III and Queen Camilla. Picture: Getty

Rev Dr Amos Chewachong Newton, from Tay Parish Church, was another of the officiating ministers and said it was a “huge privilege” to take part.

"I am really deeply honoured to be asked to officiate at such a significant event," he said.

"It is the first time for me to see the King and Queen and I was really nervous at the start but I was really happy. When the monarch was blessed it was an important moment for me."

There were those who objected though - republican protests took place outside the cathedral and at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, with people chanting “not my King”.

Police Scotland said two women, aged 20 and 21, were arrested in connection with an alleged breach of the peace after they reportedly attempted to climb over crowd barriers.

The campaign group, This Is Rigged, tweeted that two of its campaigners were arrested.

Protesters had been asked to stand in designated areas outside the High Court on the Royal Mile and outside the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Government minister and Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie addressed around 50 protesters from the Our Republic campaign, outside Holyrood.

He said the service of thanksgiving taking place at St Giles' Cathedral was a "Game Of Thrones-style cosplay exercise" and hit out at the cost and the disruption in Edinburgh this week.

National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication To The Coronation Of King Charles III And Queen Camilla
National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication To The Coronation Of King Charles III And Queen Camilla. Picture: Getty

He told the rally: "It is fundamentally at odds with the kind of modern and democratic society we are trying to build here."

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said it was “absolutely right that people should have the right to protest, that's democracy. But as regards to the Scottish Greens, my dealings with them so far is that every position they've taken has been the wrong position.

"If that's the position they've taken today then I think the monarchy is safe for generations."

As the King and Queen left St Giles' a 21-gun salute blasted from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle, and moments after they returned to Holyrood Palace, the Red Arrows flew down the Royal Mile, the red, white and blue smoke streaming behind them.

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