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RFA sailors ready for their Coronation role

Sailors from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth
5 May 2023
As they are on the front line, so they will be on the streets of London tomorrow – side-by-side with their Royal Navy comrades.

As they are on the front line, so they will be on the streets of London tomorrow – side-by-side with their Royal Navy comrades.

Sailors from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – the crucial support arm which sustains and carries out Royal Navy operations around the globe – will be taking their place alongside Service personnel during King Charles’ Coronation.

Around two dozen RFA sailors will form a marching platoon and provide street liners for the procession.

They have been drilled for the occasion at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth by Second Officer Dickie Henderson, the RFA’s Ceremonial Officer.

“At such a momentous occasion as the King’s Coronation, having the RFA requested to be part of this is not only an honour for the RFA but to me as their trainer,” he said.

“All of those on show at the King’s Coronation are volunteers taking the time in a well-earned leave to show their support and dedication to the UK and its monarch, all keen to represent their personal part of the UK and the RFA in the best way.

“Their efforts, dedication and enthusiasm during training are deeply appreciated and I will be proud to be alongside them.”

Ceremonial events and drill are less common in the RFA than in the Royal Navy and especially the Royal Marines, so the training has been intense.

The week of ceremonial training has been tough and presented some challenges to our parade instructor and the team alike, but the team has come together as one to pull it off to high standard

Third Officer Karl Edwards.

“Number 1 dress inspection has seen us all looking and feeling the part to be on show to the King and Queen Consort.

“The Coronation has been an incredible honour and opportunity to represent the RFA on a national level bringing us to the attention of the public.”

At 68 chef Chief Petty Officer Martin Etwell is the oldest person in the Naval Service taking part in the Coronation – and probably the oldest serving representative of the entire Armed Forces.

He was born a couple of years after the last Coronation, joined the RFA in May 1971 and has served through three Jubilees. Today he shares his vast culinary knowledge and experience to future generations of military chefs at the Defence Logistics College in Worthy Down, near Winchester.

“I am celebrating this month my 52nd year in the RFA and during my career I’ve had the opportunity to represent the Service in many ceremonial occasions,” he said.

“To be a part of the team – and the oldest here at 68 years old – representing the RFA with my colleagues is a great honour and a once in a lifetime opportunity. You are never too old to make memories and make an impact.

Joining him tomorrow are fellow chefs Alex Clark and Coral Fenton.

“As a Lancastrian, I am immensely proud to represent my county and the RFA during the Coronation. As the King is also Duke of Lancaster, this feels of personal significance to me in being there,” said Alex.

Coral added: “I feel really proud to be taking part in such an historic event for the RFA due to my family’s history.

“I have a deep-rooted maritime lineage in my family – my Nanna’s Uncle being in the Royal Navy for 14 years, including World War I, and my Great Grandfather earned two medals during his time in the Merchant Navy in the same war. I take great pride in continuing my family’s maritime heritage and making them proud.”

Chief Petty Officer Mark Amato will be representing not just his Service but also his Commonwealth homeland – Malta.

“This monumental occasion is a very proud moment in my life, especially being Maltese and the close links that the Monarchy has with the island,” he said.

“It is a long lasting legacy that will stay with me. I feel honoured to be chosen to represent the Service at this time.”

Seaman Grade 1 Lucy Moores was encouraged to go to sea by the stories of her grandparents – who also fondly remembered the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

I set off on an adventure to also become a seafarer and have the same experiences that he had,” she says.

“Both sets of grandparents used to talk to me about Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation and now I am able to be a part of the King’s Coronation.

“I feel incredibly privileged to be part of such a historical Royal event alongside my RFA colleagues, representing the Service, and hope that this will make my whole family proud.”

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