Royal Waterman Jonathan Hobbs Honoured to Part of King’s Coronation Procession

Jonathan Hobbs, Managing Director of Hobbs of Henley and a Royal Waterman was honoured to be part of the Sovereign’s Bodyguard in King Charles III’s Coronation procession.

The Sovereign’s Bodyguard has been part of the Coronation procession since Tudor times and comprised of Yeoman Warders and Officers, Royal Watermen and Royal Company of Archers.  Jonathan was appointed a Waterman in 2018.  He follows a family tradition with his father Tony being appointed a Waterman in 1981 who retired in 1998 and Hobbs employee, Colin Hinton who was appointed in 1996 and retired in 2015.

Training and rehearsals for the Coronation started at the end of April with a full day at the Grenadier Guards Barracks, Aldershot followed by a practice march through Aldershot.  The first full procession rehearsal was on Sunday 30 April with all 8 contingents coming together for the first time, including 9 marching bands at RAF Odiham where they carried out a timing rehearsal using operational and disused runways. Jonathan said, “The first morning of marching practice at Grenadier Guards Barracks struck me with the realisation that this was not going to be the same as sitting in the back of a carriage or on a boat; that this was something unique and challenging.  At the full rehearsal at RAF Odiham there were no crowds, no buildings and at times eerily silent as the wind took the sounds of the bands away and we tried to keep to the beat of the drum.”

A full dress rehearsal took place overnight on Tuesday 2 May at 8pm, finishing at 8am Wednesday morning with the complete Coronation procession including bands, carriages and horses.  All of the streets and roads around Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Trafalgar Square and The Mall were closed.  Jonathan added, “Standing still in formation in Parliament Square as Big Ben struck 3am was another highlight before the big day.  Because it was dark it was difficult to avoid debris on the ground as we marched.”

Jonathan stayed overnight in London before the Coronation at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge.  He had to report to the Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace at 6am. He and the other members of the Sovereign Body Guard then met up at Wellington Barracks at 8am. They then marched in contingents accompanied by the marching bands to Parliament Square for 12 noon.  From there they marched to Buckingham Palace where the procession assembled in the garden to salute the King and to shout three cheers.  Afterwards they then marched all the way back to Wellington Barracks to be dismissed and went back to the Royal Mews.

Being part of such an iconic day in British history, Jonathan said, “It was an honour and a privilege to represent the Royal Watermen as part of the Kings Bodyguard at the Coronation. Historically we have escorted the Monarch and Crown when they have travelled on the River Thames and more latterly we attend state occasions either in procession or on carriages.

“Our continued close involvement with the Crown recognises the important part the River Thames has played in the long and rich history of the Monarchy.

“As Royal Watermen, I thought we represented ourselves admirably. I am extremely proud of currently holding one of the most ancient appointments in the Royal Household and being part of the Coronation procession is an experience I will treasure forever.

“I am also very proud that Hobbs of Henley can now boast three Royal Watermen in succession to serve the Crown, 42 years in total.

“With the majority of Royal Watermen being selected from the ranks of commercial and pleasure boat operators from the tidal Thames in London this ‘Royal’ tradition is something we are very proud of and hope that we can continue the tradition of representing our town and company’s rich River and Rowing heritage for many generations to come.”

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