LAST weekend the country marked a historic event – of a kind not seen in the UK for 70 years – the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.

Their Majesties The King and Queen were crowned last Saturday at Westminster Abbey in a service conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The service was rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry but was also designed to reflect the Monarch’s role today and look towards the future.

In attendance was the Prime Minister, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world, and over 800 members of the public. As a member of the Cabinet, I was also in the Abbey and it was a great honour to represent the Forest of Dean at the Coronation.

The ceremony was preceded and succeeded by an impressive procession involving 4,000 members of the armed forces from the UK and across the Commonwealth and followed by a fly-past, including the Red Arrows.

Celebrations continued throughout the weekend with a special Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle, ‘Coronation Big Lunches’ up and down the country where neighbours joined to share food, and ‘the Big Help Out’ where people were encouraged to try volunteering.

It was wonderful to see people across the Forest of Dean came out to celebrate the Coronation in their own different ways. Forestry England held a giant royal-themed word search with letters hidden around Beechenhurst and Symonds Yat Rock. Newent had a whole festival of celebration with food, drink, crafts, a dog show and music in the town centre. And Coleford held a proms-style event with music from the Drybrook Male Voice Choir, Coleford Community Choir and Forest of Dean Brass Band, as well as poetry from local poets.

In a more unusual celebration, Cinderford’s winning ‘coronation chicken’ was announced by the town crier on Radio 2’s Zoe Ball breakfast show and was crowned by the mayor – a bit of fun which harks backs to Cinderford crowning a sheep for the 1977 Jubilee.

I am sure that many across the Forest of Dean join me in wishing King Charles a happy and prosperous reign. God Save The King.

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