Soldiers and musicians from the iconic Welsh regiments played their part in welcoming the new Monarch to Wales.
His Majesty King Charles III’s helicopter touched down near Llandaff Cathedral and his arrival in the city was signalled by a Royal Gun Salute fired by Reservists from 104 Regiment Royal Artillery, based inside the grounds of Cardiff Castle.
Following the cathedral ceremony, The King moved to the Senedd in Cardiff Bay along the route lined by Armed Forces personnel. The personnel, made up of soldiers from 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, and The Royal Welsh, as well as sailors from the Royal Navy and RAF personnel, were on hand to welcome the new Monarch and Queen Consort.
Trumpeters from The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh also performed a fanfare welcome, including at Cardiff Castle, which was The King’s final stop on his journey through the city.
“In order to get around all venues so quickly, to stay one step ahead of His Majesty, we needed a police escort,” said Sergeant Jones, one of the seven trumpeters at all three locations who plays the cornet and flugelhorn.
“It was a moving experience, but more than anything a real honour to play our part in such a historical transition.”
At Cardiff Castle, the Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of the Royal Welsh were in place to receive His Majesty The King, as well as Goat Major Sergeant Mark Jackson and Lance Corporal Shenkin IV, the Royal Welsh Regimental Goat.
Farrier Major Mark Holland and Lance Corporal Emrys Forlan Jones, the Regimental Welsh Mountain Pony from 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, and sixty Cadets from across Wales were also present.
Sergeant Jones said: “I’ve met King Charles III, or the Prince of Wales as he was then, on three occasions. He came to my school when I was a youngster, then again when I was conducting a youth band. The third time was more recently with the Royal Welsh Band at Cardiff Cathedral.
“I played the Royal Salute to Her Majesty The Queen on two occasions as a lone trumpeter. The first was when she came to Cardiff to present new colours to the regiment in 2015, and the second time was at Tidworth when The Queen presented leeks to the regiment on St David’s Day.
“When The Queen came into the room, I sounded the Royal Salute…”
“A lot of people ask if I’m nervous at such occasions. As an Army musician it’s what we live for, it’s a job and a duty, and you can’t get these experiences anywhere else.”
Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Hughes, 38, of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, from North Wales, was at the top of the Senedd steps when the King arrived.
He said: “I have been involved in numerous Royal events, including the Trooping of the Colour four times and the State Opening of Parliament. I was at the Senedd for Her Majesty The Queen’s last visit to Wales in October last year and I was at the Senedd for the King’s first visit, which is really important to me.
“This was the highlight of my 22-year career, welcoming the new King to Wales for the first time in his new role.
“I’m from a Guards family with my great-grandfather, grandad and brother having all served in the Welsh Guards, so it’s a great honour for me to be part of something so significant and historic.
“I was the UK military representative for the NATO summit in Newport, Wales, in 2014 and I have deployed to Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Kosovo and done two tours of Afghanistan.”
Major Burton, Director of Music for The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh, was taking part in his last event before retirement.
“This was a huge moment in the history of this nation and marks the completion of the Sovereign’s visit to all four corners of the United Kingdom as King Charles III.
“It’s an incredibly sad occasion, but we’ve got to get on and do our duty and pay our respects to The Queen, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Welsh, and support the new Monarch in his duties. It was an important thing to get right.
“We perform at lots of big events, like international rugby matches in Cardiff, so are not shy of crowds and usually perform at Royal Gun Salutes in the capital.
“I met The Queen on a few occasions as I used to be director of music at the Grenadier Guards in London, so was involved with many ceremonial occasions, such as State visits and banquets. The Queen also visited the 1st Battalion in Tidworth on St David’s Day.
“This will be the last time I wear the scarlet tunic uniform of the Band of The Royal Welsh as I’m due to retire at the start of October. It’s a big finish but in many ways not the one you would have wanted. It’s a bittersweet feeling because you want to welcome the King while still remembering Her Majesty.”
Sergeant Williams, of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Cavalry), has completed three tours of Afghanistan and is from Fairbourne, near Snowdonia National Park. He also took part in lining the route at the Senedd.
“All of the iconic Welsh cap badges, with their rich military history, were in place to honour the arrival of the new King,” he said.
“It’s an enormously proud feeling to be part of a time in history, but one which is filled with emotion when everyone is grieving at the Her Majesty’s loss.
Fusilier Killeen, 23, of 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh, said: “The battalion has done such a great job getting us ready for this historic occasion since the sad news that we all didn’t want to hear. Instantly, we were brought in and the preparation has been outstanding.
“Both my father and brother currently serve in the same regiment as me so it’s a big thing for our family.
“I met Her Majesty The Queen on three occasions: twice before I joined the Army. The first was just before I left Margam Park Primary School in Port Talbot and then when my father returned from Afghanistan in 2010 and the Royal Welsh received their medals at Chester Racecourse.
“I was very fortunate to be chosen from the battalion to meet The Queen with my father, along with a few other soldiers and injured troops. It was an incredible day.
“Then, when I was with the Army Air Corps I met The Queen during the Duke of Sussex’s wedding at Windsor Castle when we were the honour guards. They are days you never forget and being part of what is happening now in Wales as King Charles III begins his reign is unique and part of history.”