News story

Gun salutes mark the Queen's coronation anniversary

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A series of royal salutes have been fired by Army units in honour of the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen.

On Monday 3 June the Honourable Artillery Company, the City of London’s Territorial Army regiment and the oldest regiment in the British Army, fired a 62-round royal salute from Gun Wharf at the Tower of London.

While a royal salute normally comprises 21 rounds, the number is increased by 20 rounds when fired from a royal palace (in this case the Tower of London) and by an additional 21 rounds signifying loyalty to the monarch and Royal Family by the citizens of the City of London, hence 62 rounds in total.

The guns they used, 3 ceremonial 105mm light guns, are also the regiment’s ‘colours’. Two of the guns being fired were used during the Falklands Campaign when 5 batteries (30 guns) were deployed which fired up to 400 rounds per gun per day. The guns were last fired in anger at Goose Green and during the final assault on Port Stanley.

Members of 7 (Sphinx) Commando Battery Royal Artillery
Members of 7 (Sphinx) Commando Battery Royal Artillery firing a 21-gun royal salute at Edinburgh Castle [Picture: Mark Owens, Crown copyright]

The guns were also fired at 1-minute intervals during the funeral of Baroness Thatcher on 17 April 2013 as the coffin, pulled on a gun carriage, was taken from St Clement Danes to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Meanwhile, to the west of London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, the ceremonial saluting battery of the Household Division, fired a 41-gun royal salute from a gloriously sunny Green Park.

A total of 71 immaculately-turned-out horses, pulling 6 First World War 13-pounder field guns, which glinted in the sun, trotted dramatically into action from the north of the park to the place where the guns would be fired for the royal salute.

Soldiers from the Honourable Artillery Company
Soldiers from the Honourable Artillery Company firing a 62-round royal salute from Gun Wharf at the Tower of London [Picture: Sergeant Adrian Harlen, Crown copyright]

On the word of command each of the 6 guns fired blank artillery rounds at exactly 10-second intervals until 41 shots had been fired and, once the smoke and booming echoes which reverberated around had died down, the horses and riders, with expert drill movements and a great deal of panache, collected the guns and, at a trot via Canada Gate, escorted them back to Wellington Barracks in Birdcage Walk.

At Edinburgh Castle a similar spectacle took place when gunners from 7 (Sphinx) Commando Battery Royal Artillery, based at Royal Marines Condor near Arbroath, fired a 21-gun royal salute.

From left: Sergeant Steve Bailey, Lieutenant Janeak Skzoda and Brigadier Paul Harkness
Brigadier Paul Harkness chats to Sergeant Steve Bailey, watched by Lieutenant Janeak Skzoda, following the royal salute at Edinburgh Castle [Picture: Mark Owens, Crown copyright]

Commenting on the salute the battery commander, Major Alan Johnson, said:

It is an honour for the battery to fire a royal salute, and to do so at Edinburgh Castle is particularly special to us since we are the only regular artillery sub-unit in Scotland.

As Army commandos, this is a far cry from our normal activities, but, after 10 years of high tempo operations, we are looking forward to strengthening our ties with the Scottish community whose support we have been especially grateful for.

The anniversary of Her Majesty’s coronation actually fell on Sunday, 2 June, but, in accordance with tradition, royal salutes are fired on the day after.