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Brian Rosen (S40-46) recalls death of George VI and coronation of HM Queen

Brian Rosen-small with BL flag
Reflection by Brian Rosen (S40-46) on the death of HM The Queen “When the king, George VI, died 70 years ago It was quite unexpected and we had just 9 days to prepare to play our part in the State Funeral on 15 February, 1952. I was one of the 10,000 troops lining the route from Westminster Hall (where some 305,000 had paid their respects at the Lying in State) to Paddington station, from where the late king’s coffin continued its onward journey, in a train hauled by the aptly named ‘ Windsor Castle', to Windsor, for the Funeral Service in St.George’s Chapel. It was a pretty long, hard day for us and everybody was still shocked and, of course, very saddened, at the king’s sudden passing.

This was in some contrast to a similar privilege, 16 months later when I had another very long day, starting out from Olympia where we had to muster very early in the morning, marching in the Coronation Parade; a much more joyous occasion. As representatives of the 21 SAS (Artists) TA Marching Contingent, we led the Territorial Army in the Procession. With the weather forecast for 2 June, 1953, for somewhat mixed weather, I well remember, having marched up Park Lane and set to make an eastward turn into Oxford St, the heavens opened and we received a hefty soaking, with the blanco on our belts running down all over our military uniforms. A fair old mess to sort out at the end of the day!”