This Sunday morning, an spectacular sight will greet anyone in central London as roughly 500 members of the King’s Army of the English Civil War Society will march along The Mall to a muster in Horseguards.
They will be following the footsteps of King Charles I in commemoration of ‘His Majestie’s Horrid Murder’ at the hands of the Parliament in 1649. When the King took his final journey, he wore two shirts lest the cold make him shiver and people think he was afraid. Based on the weather forecast, you might need wear two shirts on Sunday as well!
The soldiers of this modern re-creation of a Royalist Army of the Civil Wars are all volunteers and will be clothed and equipped in the same manner as their forebears were 364 years ago.
It is quite an impressive sight – and worth dragging yourself into town for on the morning.
They form up next to St James Palace from about 10am onwards, and at 11:30, they march along The Mall and then form up on Horseguards where a service is held in memory of the beheaded monarch, and various long-service awards handed out to members, to great cries of Huzzuh and the beating of drums.
The service is usually lead by Canon Alan Hughes, who is the Vicar of Berwick and he travels down to London especially for the event. It’s appropriate that he leads the service, as Berwick boasts the only Parish Church built during Oliver Cromwell’s reign as Lord Protector.
At noon, a smaller procession breaks off to walk over to Banqueting House and lay a wreath on the site of the execution. The whole lot used to walk through the arch for this, but that was stopped last year – allegedly because it disturbs the road traffic. Humph!
After the ceremonies are all completed — about half an hour later — they march back along The Mall and disband.
More of my photos from the 2009 march.
If you arrive early though, then there is a smaller ceremony at 10am, where a wreath is lain at the foot of the statue of King Charles I in Trafalgar Square.
In addition, The Society of King Charles the Martyr also holds a service in Banqueting House on the anniversary of the Regicide – which this year will be on Wednesday lunchtime. Banqueting House has itself also just opened a new exhibition about the execution.