Around 400 members of the armed forces of 33 Commonwealth nations and six British Overseas Territories take part in a joint parade ahead of the coronation of King Charles III.
The servicemen and women will be taking part in the ceremonial procession for the coronation on Saturday May 6 2023, and have been training for several days at the Pirbright Army Training Centre near Aldershot, south-east England.
The troops were presented with a commemorative coin in recognition of their efforts.
"All the troops have had fantastic times" says Squadron Leader Mitchell Brown of the Australian Armed Forces. "We’ve been swapping patches and coins and collecting memorabilia from each other, so everybody's been loving the opportunity to integrate."
Little interest from former colonies
Charles’ coronation is mostly viewed with apathy in Britain's former colonies.
Two days ahead of Charles’ crowning, campaigners from 12 Commonwealth countries wrote to the monarch urging him to apologize for the legacies of British colonialism.
Among the signatories was Lidia Thorpe, an Australian senator, who said Thursday that Charles should “begin a process of repairing the damage of colonization, including returning the stolen wealth that has been taken from our people.”
Buckingham Palace said last month that Charles supported research into the historical links between Britain’s monarchy and slave trade.
In India, once the jewel of the British Empire, there’s scant media attention and very little interest in the coronation. Some people living in the country’s vast rural hinterlands may not have even heard of King Charles III.
“India has moved on,” and most Indians “have no emotional ties with the royal family,” Pavan K. Varma, a writer and former diplomat, said. Instead, the royals are seen more like amusing celebrities, he said.
In Nairobi, Kenya, motorcycle taxi driver Grahmat Luvisia was similarly dismissive of the idea of following the coronation on TV.
“I will not be interested in watching the news or whatever is happening over there because we have been mistreated back then by those colonizers,” he said.
Herman Manyora, a political analyst and journalism professor at the University of Nairobi, said memories of Britain’s harsh response to the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s are still raw.
Many Kenyans will not watch the coronation “because of the torture during colonialism, because of the oppression, because of detentions, because of killings, because of the alienation of our land,” Manyora said.
Not everyone is as critical. In Uganda, political analyst Asuman Bisiika says British culture continues to have a strong influence on young people in the East African country, especially those who follow English soccer. There is also a lot of goodwill for Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September after 70 years on the throne.
“It’s not about caring for the British monarchy,” Bisiika said. “It’s about relating."