Army gun salutes herald Proclamation of the new King

Army guns rang out once again across the United Kingdom today as the world watched on as a new King, His Majesty King Charles III, was proclaimed on a historic day for our nations.

London and cities at home and abroad marked the occasion with the smoke, ceremony and the loud bangs of the guns after troops took up their positions at saluting stations again.

The Principal Proclamation of His Majesty The King was read by the Garter King of Arms at 11am from the balcony above Friary Court, St James’s Palace.

The St James’s Palace Detachment of The King’s Guard, provided by Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards, accompanied by The Band of the Coldstream Guards, turned out in Friary Court.

It was an honour and privilege today to command The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery Major Francesca Sykes
King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery

The Escort carried the King’s Colour draped in black, marking the death of Her Majesty The Queen, and wreathed in laurel leaves to mark the anniversary of their battle honour, Salerno 10 September, 1943.

It was the Coldstream Guards who ensured the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, placing Charles II on the throne, so it was only fitting that this Regiment was present for the accession of King Charles III.

Eight State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry, dressed in Gold State coats, stood on the balcony above Friary Court to sound a fanfare announcing the arrival of the Earl Marshal, Garter King of Arms and the other Kings of Arms, Heralds and Pursuivants of the Royal Court. They then sounded the Royal Salute.

The Garter King of Arms read the first and Principal proclamation:

“Given at St James’s Palace, this tenth day of September in the year of Our Lord 2022…” at which point the first round of 41 Guns could be heard as the Royal Salute was fired in Hyde Park by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.  

The notice to fire was given by Major Francesca Sykes Royal Horse Artillery who later said:

“It was an honour and privilege today to command The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery as we fired a 41 gun salute for the Official Proclamation of His Majesty, King Charles III.

“We are tremendously proud to be a part, alongside all others, in the pageantry that has taken place today across the capital and indeed the country. But, as grateful as we all were to play an integral part in the proclamation of our new Sovereign this morning, it is also an immensely sombre occasion. We stand ready to do our contribution and honour our former Captain General, for her unparalleled reign. A life well lived and well served.”

The Garter King of Arms declared “God Save The King!” and the State Trumpeters sounded a Royal Salute.

The Band of the Coldstream Guards played the National Anthem, God Save Our Gracious King, and the Guardsmen laid down their weapons, removed their bearskin caps and gave a rousing three cheers for His Majesty The King.

Major Dickinson, Coldstream Guards, Captain of the King’s Guard, said: “It is a huge privilege to be the Captain of the King’s Guard for His Majesty Charles III’s Proclamation during this sombre and deeply sad time.

“Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was an inspiration to us all; it is an honour not only to be part of this historic occasion, but also to have served her in the final years of her reign.

“The Regiment laid down its arms in 1661 in St James’ Palace to become a Royal Regiment for King Charles II; the significance to our Regiment of laying down our arms for King Charles III is “Second to None”. (The regimental motto being “Nulli Secundus” – ie “Second to None”).

“I could not be more proud of my whole company for their utter professionalism today, and their dedication to His Majesty.”

At midday, the second Proclamation was read from the steps of the Royal Exchange by Clarenceux King of Arms. The Lord Mayor of the City of London, together with the Court of Aldermen and Members of Common Council, were present.

The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers of The Honourable Artillery Company, The Lord Mayor’s Bodyguard in the City of London, noted for their uniforms which date back to the reign of Charles I, were on duty at the Royal Exchange.

They were accompanied by The Band of the Honourable Artillery Company while four State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry, sounded the fanfares, from the balcony of the Mansion House, and these were echoed by four other State Trumpeters positioned on the steps of the Royal Exchange.

As the proclamation was read a 62 Gun Salute was fired from Tower Wharf at His Majesty’s Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company, the City of London’s Army Reserve, who provide gunnery, intelligence and surveillance for the British Army.

Lance Corporal of Horse Witter was one of the Trumpeters who performed at both Proclamations. He said: “This is the culmination of a 33-year career in Army Music.

“It is the absolute pinnacle of my career, and I can’t put into words how proud I feel, I just wish my parents were here to see it. I lost my Mum in 2016 and my dad died of COVID 2 years ago. They would have been so proud.”

The Brigade Major of the Household Division, Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, who oversaw the ceremonial for both proclamations said: “This is an important means by which the military demonstrates its support to the constitutional process”.

A Royal Salute of 21 rounds was then fired at 1101am from all other saluting stations on land and sea at home and abroad, with rounds fired at 10 second intervals at saluting stations.

Salutes took place at locations including Hyde Park, Tower of London; Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland; Cardiff Castle, Wales; Edinburgh Castle, Scotland; Colchester; Gibraltar, Larkhill, and York, as well as at sea saluting stations.

In Northern Ireland, at Hillsborough Castle, the Reservists of 206 Battery 106 Regiment Royal Artillery also marked the official proclamation in London of His Majesty King Charles III with a 21- gun salute.

The Castle, which is situated 15 miles from Belfast, is the official residence of the King when he is in Northern Ireland. The troop commander was Captain Beckett and each gun was manned by a team of six and fired a round every ten seconds.

In Scotland at Edinburgh Castle protocols for the proclamation were duly observed where a 21-gun salute also rang out from the Battlements. At the same time the Union Flag was temporarily raised to full mast.

In charge of the Gunners was Major Robson RA with a team of Army Reservist gunners recruited from across Scotland who fired three L118 Light Guns.

Capt Harvey, Adjutant of 105 Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “It was an honour and privilege to be part of this momentous historical occasion”.

And Warrant Officer Class One Hallam, Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of 105 Regiment Royal Artillery, added: “It was great for 105 Regiment (the Scottish & Ulster Gunners) Royal Artillery to be part of this historic moment to fire a Royal Gun Salute in both Northern Ireland and Scotland simultaneously.

“With being a Reserve regiment, we were inundated with volunteers to be included in these ceremonial events.”

Lance Bombardier Maughan said: “After eight years of being part of 278 Battery Royal Artillery I feel very honoured to be part of these Royal Gun Salutes and proceedings.  I think once the events are over it will really sink in how important my role has been – I have not really had time to take it all in."

At Colchester’s East Essex Cricket Club, Major Collet, Battery Commander of F (Sphinx) Parachute Battery RHA, said: “It is a tremendous honour for the battery to fire to mark the proclamation of a new monarch, His Majesty King Charles III.

“It is always a rewarding experience to fire Royal Salutes in front of the public, and this has been a truly historic and once-in-a-lifetime occasion for us all.

“Today, my soldiers have all taken great pride in wearing what is now the King’s uniform and performed their duties with the utmost professionalism, precision and dignity.”

Meanwhile, at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, gunners from 34 (Seringapatam) Battery, 14 Regiment Royal Artillery, fired 21 rounds on the proclamation of the new monarch.

The gun salute took place at the historical landmark, which is close to the home of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, based at Larkhill.

Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Battery Sergeant Major (BSM) Bagley, of 34 (Seringapatam) Battery, said: “I’ve been BSM since April last year and my role is Parade Warrant Officer.

“I feel very privileged and honoured to be taking part in firing the 21- round salute for the King’s proclamation today, and excited as well.

“It’s nice to have my soldiers next to me on a ceremonial duty, because we are not a ceremonial regiment.

With just six years left to serve in the Army, WO2 Bagley said she felt privileged to also take part in gun salutes for Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, for the Death Salute yesterday and for the King’s proclamation today.

“My four-year-old daughter is extremely proud of me,” she added.

In Wales 104 Regiment Royal Artillery, Reservists from Ragland Barracks, Newport, fired a 21-gun-salute at Cardiff Castle.

Captain Jasper, officer in charge of the salute, said: “It has been a hugely emotional few days since we found out about the death of Her Majesty The Queen, but we were focused on delivering the task of firing today’s gun salute, in addition to yesterday’s Death Gun salute.

“We are immensely sad at the loss of Her Majesty The Queen but have immense pride in supporting today’s Principal proclamation gun salute for our new King.”

Over at York’s Museum Garden’s, Capt Watkins, Operations Officer for 4 Regt Royal Artillery, said: “It is a huge honour for the Regiment to be here today. These guns were down on a Salisbury Plain exercise before Friday and were back in camp, when the soldiers got the call, within six hours.

“It shows how professional and adaptable our soldiers are, whatever the situation.

“The turnout from the public is fantastic and means a lot to us. This is the only saluting station in the north of England, so this role is of great importance to us.

“Whilst this is of course a sad time with the passing of HM The Queen, the Captain General of the Royal Artillery, this proclamation is a great occasion to be involved with and we celebrate or new King.”

The salute in York was also attended by Brig Gen Jean Laurentin, the French exchange officer in the role of General Officer Commanding of 1st (UK) Division, based in York, as well as the Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Jo Ropner.