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Under the cover of darkness, thousands of military personnel came together on the streets of London to practice the ceremonial support for the Coronation of Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort.
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Without music or ceremonial gunfire, all that could be heard was the crunching of boots on gravel, the crisp utterance of words of command, and the ring of horses’ hooves on the street. The glint of streetlights reflecting off highly polished boots, medals, and bayonets added a sparkle to the occasion.
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In total, some 7,000 soldiers, sailors, and air force personnel converged on London from concentration areas around the capital for the rehearsal – the last time they will come together before the event.
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Among the servicemen and women were some 400 from 33 Commonwealth countries and six Overseas Territories, more than 300 from The Household Cavalry and King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery mounted on horses, and 19 military bands – of which one is on horseback.
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Working to the same timings as will be followed on the day of the Coronation, more than 1,000 personnel first took up positions to line the route between Buckingham Palace and Westminster.
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The rehearsal of the King’s Procession saw the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment practise taking Their Majesties from the Palace to the Abbey for the Coronation service.
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Then the 1.42-mile-long Coronation Procession stepped off, with eight processional groups including troops from the Commonwealth, Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force leading the Gold State Coach carrying Their Majesties back to the Palace.
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After practising the complex ceremonial drill, the troops headed back to their concentration areas to rest, as dawn broke and the city started its working day.
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The overnight rehearsal follows a daylight rehearsal held at RAF Odiham on Sunday. Doing the final rehearsal at night allows troops to practice on the roads they will be parading on at the Coronation while reducing the disruption to the public.