King Charles III's coronation: Mike Hosking reveals his 'special' experience at historic ceremony

  • 07/05/2023

OPINION: The unusual truth is that for the vast majority of the 2000 people inside Westminster Abbey at the Coronation today, they couldn't see a thing.  

The day started early and involved an hour-long walk to the security point with London locked down. I said hello to Stephen Fry standing on Lambeth Bridge along with every other invited guest expected to turn up early. 

I had nothing more than a letter from the Palace telling me where to meet. Upon arrival at the security point, I gave my name, they thanked me for coming, and that was that. Despite the invite saying to bring ID, there was none required or asked for. I am sure if it were held in America, I would not have gotten within a million miles of the Abbey without ID.  

The British are unfailingly polite at security. They rifled through everything as they searched our bags, and a little after 7am I was seated inside the Abbey. 

I counted 27 journalists - a surprisingly small group. On one side of me was The Guardian, the other side The Scotsman. The media got momentarily excited when Harry arrived. 

We were lucky with the seating. If you saw it on the television, we were to the left of the King and Queen's seats, opposite the Royal Family.  

At the best point, Camilla and Charles were no more than 30 metres from me. If I leaned slightly, I had direct eye contact with Harry, as well as William, Kate, and their kids.  

Princess Anne's hat seemed large enough to bother those who sat behind her. And as for Harry, each time I looked it seemed he spent the better part of the service looking at the screen, which gives you an insight into the seating restrictions even for close family.    

In reality, the Abbey isn't as big as it looks on TV. All the famous people who walk past you - UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Richie McCaw (who had a very special role), Michael Gove, Nick Cave, Lionel Ritchie - are all within touching distance. 

Albert of Monaco looks older in person, as does John Kerry, who I ran into at the end as we both took a side door. It's amazing at an event like this where there are so many powerful and famous people, they're so approachable. He appeared to have no security, unless there was a sharpshooter somewhere I hadn't noticed. But he said he very much enjoyed what we had both witnessed.  

Joanna Lumley claimed to remember me from our interviews over the years, but I put that down to her extreme politeness. 

The thing about an event of that magnitude is there are so many famous faces just standing around you.  

Obviously, the King is the star of the show. But the Abbey is special all by itself. The sound is astonishing. Royalist or not, God Save The King at full voice is genuinely moving. 

Perhaps what made it particularly special is that the vast majority of us have never seen, far less been, to a coronation. Britain, as has been said many times, does it better than anyone. 

Every medal ever handed out seemed to be pinned to a suit, the fascinator business was booming, and Britain and those in the Abbey knew they were proudly on show. 

At the end, I stepped out a side door and had nothing more than the lawn between me and the gold carriage as it left the Abbey back to Buckingham Palace. 

A gentle rain started, which was a shame after such a magnificent start to the day. 

No one inside will forget it. The media point person from the Palace was wiping tears. The rest of the time she was beaming. She obviously loves her employers.  

I don't work for them, but I love them too. They put on a show I will never forget. 

Mike Hosking is the weekday breakfast host on Newstalk ZB's radio show Mike Hosking Breakfast.

This article was republished with permission.