(Fredericton, NB – May 5 2023) – As the nations of the Commonwealth prepare for the Coronation of Charles III Saturday May 6, the Fredericton Region Museum would like to take the time to reflect on this momentous occasion by sharing a neat piece of history from its own collection. In 1995, the FRM was lucky enough to receive a donation of three items which were owned by Squadron Sergeant William Henry McFarlane of the 8th Canadian Hussars. As part of his military unit, McFarlane was a member of the procession for the celebrations for the Coronation of King George V in 1911. The items received by the museum were his military tunic, a transcription of his diary during his time in England and finally a genuine slice of the coronation cake itself! As you can imagine, the cake, after a over a hundred years, is not in a condition for tasting. On the other hand, McFarlane’s diary provides a fascinating first hand account of the procession on June 22-23 1911 which we would like to share with you all:
“June 22, Thursday: Reveille at 4:45. Breakfast at 5:30. Parade at 6:15 in review order. The reds are to form the King’s escort for today and the blues for tomorrow in the Royal procession through the streets of London. There are 60,000 troops to line the streets and 21,000 policemen on duty in London. The streets are almost wholly deserted except along the street the procession is to pass through. The stores are all closed for today and tomorrow. People have stayed in the streets all night by the thousands to get a place today. London is crazy. It is raining a little this morning. The King left Buckingham Palace at about 10:30. Our squadron lined the street, dismounted around the Victoria Monument. The King’s carriage was drawn by 8 cream colored horses in gold harness. He was crowned at 12 o’clock in Westminster Abbey and came back to Buckingham Palace about 2 o’clock. The troops got back to barracks about 4 o’clock. Capt. McCowan of the 5th P.L.D.G. and son-in-law of Sir Frederick Borden, was killed just after the King left Buckingham Palace. His horse reared and threw him backward and came over on top of him, crushing him on the pavement. It is quite a cold day.
June 23, Friday: Reveille at 5 a.m. Parade at 6:15. Mounted and rode to Thames embankment and formed up in the procession. Canadians led the procession. Good cold morning, one little shower during the parade. We marched from Buckingham Palace to the Mall, then to Marlborough Gate via Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square, Strand, Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill, Cannon Street, Queen Victoria Street, Mansion House, King William Street, London Bridge, Borough High Street, Borough Road, St. George’s Circus, Westminster Bridge Road, Westminster Bridge, Parliament Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards, The Mall and back to Buckingham Palace. We started about 9 o’clock and got done about 2 in the afternoon. The crowd was something enormous. We marched about 15 miles and every inch of the way was crowded with people – streets, platforms, windows, house tops, and every place the could get standing room, and the soldiers lined the streets the whole way on both sides. The decorations are something wonderful. Two of our men got their arms broken today by their horses falling on the slippery pavement. It rained in the afternoon and we are all staying in our rooms.”
The Fredericton Region Museum would like to thank Howard McFarlane for donating these items so that we are able to share this piece of history with you all. The museum features a number of artifacts like these that come with fascinating stories which we encourage you to visit the museum and discover as we begin preparations for our opening for the summer season. The festivities for Charles III’s coronation will be sure to be as grand as his great-grandfather’s come May 6, and thus the museum would like to extend a proper exultation: God save the King!