King Charles greets crowds in surprise walkabout on The Mall

An 89-year-old St John Ambulance volunteer who was on duty for the late Queen’s coronation said he remembers her crowning ceremony as “joyful” as he predicts she will be a “hard act to follow” for the King. 

Derek Williams has met Elizabeth several times over the past 70 years through his volunteering work and being made an MBE, as well as attending garden parties at Buckingham Palace with the service.

In 1952 he joined the St John Ambulance service, aged just 18, when he was invited by a friend, and for the Queen’s big day in 1953 he was stationed near Selfridges on Oxford Street.

Mr Williams, who will be watching the King’s coronation from home in Betchworth, Surrey, said: “It was an honour to be part of the coronation and to provide service to the public.

“People were very, very joyful. Some had camped overnight, as they are doing now, there was no animosity or anything like that. They were joyful, friendly, and pleased to be there, I think.”

On his meetings with Elizabeth over the years, Mr Williams said: “At the garden parties, before the general public was let in, the Queen would come out to thank everybody.”

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