Students’ unforgettable experience as VIP guests at King’s Coronation

Students’ unforgettable experience as VIP guests at King’s Coronation

A once-in-a-lifetime chance to attend King Charles III’s Coronation became a reality for five New City College students, along with their tutor, who were VIP guests at Saturday’s spectacular procession and ceremony.

Invited through the college’s work with The Prince’s Trust, the group had breakfast at Lambeth Palace before watching the arrival of King Charles and Queen Camilla to Westminster Abbey as they sat just metres away.

They then saw the whole Coronation service in adjoining St Margaret’s Church, and were in front row positions to see the royal Gold State Coach and military parade depart for Buckingham Palace.

The students, Mehedi Hasan, Akiba Hossain, Redwan Islam, Sumaiya Khorshed and Ibrahima Habib Diallo, are all residents of Tower Hamlets and attend New City College’s Arbour Square campus, on the 14-16 programme. They proudly wore their college uniform for the momentous day.

They were all incredibly honoured to have been part of the historic event.

Sumaiya said: “It was the most fascinating, unforgettable and incredible experience I have ever had. The glowing sparkle of our King and his opulence filled my heart with gratitude.”

Mehedi added: “It was an honour to witness first-hand the traditions and ceremonies that have been part of the monarchy for centuries, and to be a part of the celebration and excitement that surrounds it.”

The day began with an early start for the students and their tutor, Steve Jinman, meeting at Arbour Square at 7am. They then travelled to Lambeth Palace – the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury – for a celebration breakfast with other charity guests.

After breakfast they were issued with special VIP wristbands and escorted on the 15-minute walk across Westminster Bridge to the Abbey. Once they arrived at St Margaret’s Church they had to go through airport-style security checks and searches before taking their seats along with young people from other charities including Barnardos, the Scouts, Guides and St John Ambulance.

They then saw the arrival of the King and Queen live on a big screen and sat mesmerised as the service unfolded, the choirs sang and the King was crowned.

During the final hymn, the students were ushered out of the main church doors to line the route of the royal and military procession back to Buckingham Palace.

Tutor Steve said: “We had the perfect view of the soldiers, the Canadian Mounted Police and Beefeaters as they prepared for the parade and then the King and Queen passed by in the Gold State Coach. It was quite an honour to be there – within feet of something the whole world was watching. We even got a wave and a smile from Prince Louis when the Prince and Princess of Wales’ coach went by.”

Once the procession had finished, the students were taken on the walk back to Lambeth Palace and were served lunch – even getting to see the Archbishop of Canterbury who had returned home after presiding over the most important service of his life.

Student Redwan Islam said: “It was an unbelievable and historic day. I was proud to be a part of it.”

Ibrahima Habib Diallo added: “If I had a time machine to relive any moment in my life, the Coronation would be my first destination!”

And Akiba Hossain said: “It felt surreal to see all these important public figures in real life, having only ever seen them on TV.”

The students came away with memories and mementoes to keep, such as the ornate Order of Service booklet given to all guests in Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church, a printed invitation, flags, badges and a T-shirt – as well as the treasured photos they were able to take at close distance.

The Prince’s Trust works with students on the 14-16 programme at Arbour Square campus, taking class sessions and delivering an employability qualification as well as developing other skills. It was through this partnership that New City College was offered the five VIP student places at the Coronation.

The students who attended are studying GCSEs in English, Maths, Science, Religious Studies and Business and are all hoping to progress to study A Levels at Attlee Academy, Arbour Square campus, next year. They were chosen for the experience by college managers based on their attendance, punctuality, behaviour and a written application explaining why they wanted to go.

The group have also been offered the chance to return to Westminster Abbey for a free tour in the summer.

New City College students from Arbour Square campus Tower Hamlets attended the procession and Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla as VIP guests of The Prince's Trust