Meet a former Gentleman Usher, one of the crucial unsung heroes who work tirelessly, and often invisibly, to smooth the path of the Royal Family and foreign Heads of State at official events.
If you haven’t heard of Gentleman Ushers that’s not a surprise, the role by its nature is one no one should notice if all goes well.
A former Gentleman Usher, who first met King Charles through a previous role in the Royal Household, said: “I didn’t apply for it, having done my previous job they said ‘I think you better come and do this’, so I did!”
The position has been around since the Plantagenet era but in more recent history it has been held by former members of the Armed Forces – four from the Army, three from the Royal Navy and three from the Royal Air Force, and has recently expanded to include women as well as men.
Their job is to serve at Royal Weddings, Garden Parties, State Banquets, Garter Ceremonies, and Investitures, the award ceremonies where people receive Royal honours such as Knighthoods and Military Awards.
Recalling an experience at one such event he said: “I was helping line the Service Men up in readiness, and I came to a US Navy chap who had a British Military Cross, I said ‘I hope you’re going to be able to wear that’, and he replied, ‘So do I Sir, it’s the best one I’ve got’.”
There will be nine Gentleman Ushers and one Lady Usher working at the King’s Coronation, quietly helping the ceremony run smoothly.
Whilst serving at a similarly important event, the former Gentleman Usher explained that one of his many duties included looking after a group of foreign Heads of State at Princess Diana’s funeral – a group that included Queen Noor and Hilary Clinton amongst others.
As you would expect from a person with such intimate access, he was also able to give a review of the food at the Garden Parties which he said was so delicious he never got sick of it, even after attending more than 50 of them.
Garden Parties also offered him the opportunity to rub shoulders with some extraordinary people, which he said was one of the highlights of the role.
He said: “I’ve been very lucky.”
About King Charles, he said: “He had quite a strange upbringing.
“When he was very small his parents went away for a six month tour because the Queen was newly crowned.
“He was also a sensitive child, and was sent to the wrong school, he was badly bullied and it affected him.”
He continued: “I think he has changed, and that he’s doing very well as King and that Camilla has been a huge influence for the better.”
When asked what advice he would give to the King ahead of his big day, he said: “Try and be as much like your Mother as you can.
“She was a delightful woman and had a wicked sense of humour, she punched me in the arm once.”
To spot the Lady and Gentleman Ushers working at the King’s Coronation, look out for the people in full military uniforms with a band around their arms.