Pageantry and procession in the rain in Hillsborough

·3-min read

There has never been a day quite like it in Hillsborough – pageantry and procession as the rain fell throughout.

Even though police mounted a major security operation in the small Co Down village, hundreds still made the effort to get as close as they could to the castle to see the proclamation of the new King, with many standing for over an hour in the rain.

While about 200 guests were permitted inside the castle grounds, a larger number watched and listened from outside, either in front of the gates or behind barriers
erected on the roadside.

A full dress rehearsal of the ceremonial accession proclamation took place earlier in the day in bright sunshine, but the heavens opened about an hour before the real event.

The rain fell throughout the ceremony at Hillsborough Castle (Kelvin Boyes/PA)
The rain fell throughout the ceremony at Hillsborough Castle (Kelvin Boyes/PA)

The small number of locals allowed to enter the grounds huddled together on the front lawn under umbrellas handed out by staff.

The ceremony had a strong military theme, from a solitary bugler sounding the fanfare to the Royal Irish Regiment band playing the national anthem and a 21-gun salute fired by the 206 (Ulster) Battery Royal Artillery.

Outside the gates, the atmosphere was less formal – albeit with the same sense of grief over the Queen’s death and support for the new monarch.

The procession took place inside the grounds of Hillsborough Castle (Kelvin Boyes/PA)
The procession took place inside the grounds of Hillsborough Castle (Kelvin Boyes/PA)

Emma and James McConnell travelled from Portadown.

Their white dog Honey had its ears dyed red and white for the occasion.

Mr McConnell said: “We came to see everything that was going on.

“We like to follow the royalty and we wanted to come down and show our support.

“We were all sitting watching the news last week about the Queen. We hoped that it wouldn’t come to it but sort of knew that it would. It was so very sad.

“I think the new King is going to do OK.”

Ms McConnell added: “I put some colouring in Honey’s ears to make it red, white and blue.

“Unfortunately it has turned a bit purple in the rain.”

David Armstrong travelled with his baby son from Lisburn to pay his respects.

He said: “There is a good crowd about and it’s nice to see that people have made the effort to turn out even though the weather is not great.

“I was pretty shocked last week with the news about the Queen.

“Obviously, a couple of days before she was still doing her duties and she looked frail, but none of us expected that news two days later.

“I think everyone just thought that she would live forever, but it is sad and you can feel a sombre atmosphere.

“It is something I’ve never seen before in Hillsborough.”

Mr Armstrong added: “I think Charles will be a good king.

“He did very well in his address the other night. He did really well. I think he is going to step up and people are going to take to him and respect him.”