The military flypast over Buckingham Palace to mark the coronation of the King and Queen was scaled down because of the weather and was formed of just helicopters and The Red Arrows, the Ministry of Defence said.
London has been drenched by heavy rain with storms around the UK on Saturday, and the previously-scheduled flypast had to be drastically cut back in response.
The news, which came as a disappointment to many royal fans, followed a soldier having to pause and tip rainwater out of his tuba while marching back to Buckingham Palace after the King and Queen’s Coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Saturday.
An MoD statement said: ‘Due to unsuitable weather conditions, the coronation flypast will now be formed of helicopters and the Royal Air Force aerobatic team The Red Arrows. ‘The flypast will last for two minutes and 30 seconds.’
The announcement came just minutes before the royal family were due to appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
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The flypast, which will now only last for two minutes and 30 seconds, will involve only helicopters and the Red Arrows (pictured)
The King and Queen step out onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace
The royal family appears on the Buckingham Palace balcony ahead of the scaled-down flypast
Britons braved the poor weather to take their places along the procession route
The soldier was forced to pause and empty the tuba of water so he could continue playing
The King and Queen appeared to watch the flypast from the balcony along with other members of the family, including the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Prince Edward, his wife Sophie and their two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Earl of Wessex.
The display over The Mall and Buckingham Palace was originally meant to last for six minutes, but the scaled-down version will last for less than half of that time.
Thousands of people who have camped overnight in the Mall are wearing rain ponchos and carrying umbrellas ready for King Charles’ long-awaited coronation. It wouldn’t be a classic British celebration without a spot of rain – and the King’s big day followed a long tradition of rainy Coronation days in Britain in the last century.
Similar scenes were seen outside Westminster Abbey, as excited crowds waving union jacks flags remain undeterred by the likelihood of the heavens opening up.
The crowds got a front row seat at the first Coronation in 70 years and were able to watch a soldier’s quick-thinking tuba performance as they were one of 5,000 servicemen and women to take part in the processions to and from the abbey.
The soldier, who was one of dozens playing an instrument as he processed down the Mall, had to take the unusual step of upturning the tuba after it became full – making it impossible to play.
The moment happened as the royal family made their way back to the Palace after a two-hour service in front of global leaders, other royal families and hundreds of community figures, where they will later appear on the Palace balcony.
It was captured on camera as broadcasters Sky, ITV and the BBC all competed for viewers as they streamed the parade live to be watched by millions of people around the world.
The Met Office has warned of a 60 per cent chance of light rain from 9am until midday, then an 80 to 90 per cent chance of heavy rain until 2pm.
This period covers the key events of today’s coronation – with Charles and Camilla’s procession setting off from Buckingham Palace at 10.20am today – before the service at Westminster Abbey at 11am.
But the King himself didn’t seem fazed by the prospect of wet weather. When a fan on the Mall asked him about the weather yesterday, he replied simply: ‘Rain is a blessing… except for the cameras.’
Crowds were able to see the soldier’s quick-thinking actions as they stood in line
Crowds of people assemble on the Mall as they wait to see the royals on the Buckingham Palace balcony
The flypast will see military helicopters take part, but only one type of plane – the iconic British Red Arrows (Pictured: Military helicopters perform their final rehearsal ahead of the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla at RAF College Cranwell last month)
King Charles arrives at Buckingham Palace after being crowned at Westminster Abbey
Other soldiers watched on with amusement as the soldier realised his instrument was filled with rainwater
Keen-eyed royal fans noticed the moment as the procession battled heavy rain on its return to the palace
After the initial procession of soldiers came the newly-crowned King and Queen, followed by the other members of the royal family
The King and Queen returned in the golden state coach, having arrived in the Platinum Jubilee coach
Royal fans have umbrellas at the ready as they watch the king’s coronation ceremony on a screen in Hyde Park
Foot Guards march through damp and drizzly weather at the Mall in preparation for the coronation ceremony
A sea of umbrellas joined the sea of royal fans watching events from around the country
Crowds have turned up wearing rain ponchos and carrying umbrellas for King Charles’ long awaited coronation, after the heavens opened up last night
People wear rain ponchos and carry umbrellas in Whitehall as they await King Charles and Queen Camilla’s coronation ceremony
Rain-soaked members of the public fathered outside Westminster Abbey ahead of the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla
According to the Met Office, today will be ‘another cloudy, wet day for many. Showers are likely to develop in central, eastern, and northern areas’ with highs of 17C.
Temperatures will reach highs of 17C by the afternoon, which is around average for the time of year.
The newly-crowned pair will then travel back to the Palace between 1pm and 1.30pm, before a scheduled flypast at 2.15pm.
The King and Queen Consort are due to appear on the palace balcony with other members of the royal family to watch the six-minute flypast – but it could be cancelled by downpours.
There is a 70 per cent chance of showers at the same time the flypast to celebrate the King’s coronation is due to take place, forecasters say.
Royal fans who will be in London to celebrate the occasion are advised to bring umbrellas, cagoules and waterproof jackets with dreary weather expected.
Crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace, facing the Victoria Memorial statue as rain falls ahead of the Coronation
Crowds in Trafalgar Square take shelter from the rain hoping to catch a glimpse of the King’s coach
Well-wishers shelter from the rain under umbrellas as they line the route of the ‘King’s Procession’, a two kilometre stretch from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey
Royal enthusiasts gather on the Long Walk in Windsor early this morning to get their space to watch the Coronation live on big screens
Well-wishers line the route of the ‘King’s Procession, including a woman (left) with a rain poncho over her dressing gown
Mary Davis and Carol Sills from Bedfordshire sit in the rain at Hyde Park
No rain on this parade! A little boy camped outside with his family is clad from head to toe in a plastic poncho as they await the Coronation procession
Wrapped up for weather! A man struggled to get his rain poncho while as a woman assists him
Crowds in the grandstand opposite Buckingham Palace ahead of the coronation ceremony
Crowds wearing rain ponchos in the grandstand opposite Buckingham Palace
HISTORY REPEATING: It takes more than a spot of bad weather to put off patriotic Brits, as shown by these two women braving the wind and rain before the late Queen’s coronation on June 1, 1953
King gets good omen ahead of big day: Meteor shower graces skies
WHILE the weather might not be on-side, at least the stars have put on a show for the Coronation.
In what some may herald as a good omen, a meteor shower lit up the skies early this morning ahead of King Charles’ big day.
The Eta Aquariid meteor shower was forecast to peak – with up to 50 meteors per hour – from midnight until dawn.
It occurred as the Earth passed through dust left over from Halley’s Comet, which is only visible from Earth every 76 years.
Appropriately, Halley’s Comet is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, which tells the story of the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror – Charles’s ancestor who was crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day in 1066.
Meteors are pieces of debris, sometimes as small as a grain of sand, that enter Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per second, vaporising and causing the streaks of light that delight skygazers.
The meteor show favoured the Southern Hemisphere and appeared low in the sky for northerly latitudes, such as the UK, in the early predawn hours.
While it peaked early this morning, the Eta Aquariid shower will continue until May 28.
According to the Greeks and Romans, the arrival of comets, meteors and meteor showers were signs that something good or bad had happened or was about to happen.
In Ancient Greece, an astronomer named Ptolemy claimed that shooting stars would occur when the gods opened up the sky to watch the humans below.
Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston has said ‘it’s 50/50’ as to whether a flypast scheduled to fly over The Mall and Buckingham Palace after 2.15pm will take place if there is rain and low cloud.
It will consist of more than 60 aircraft from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force – including the Red Arrows, but a final decision will be made just one or two hours before it is due to start.
After the service at Westminster Abbey ends, Charles and Camilla are expected to enter Buckingham Palace through the centre arch at 1.33pm.
They will receive a salute from the military in the palace gardens at 1.45pm, and then at about 2.15pm they will be joined by members of the royal family on the palace balcony to watch the flypast.
However, the RAF has said low cloud and rain could mean it is cancelled.
Sir Michael had said: ‘The weather isn’t looking brilliant, but there’s nothing we can do about it. We have to be safe, we have to make sure that we aren’t taking any unnecessary risks.
‘We’ll make a weather call one or two hours before the actual moment, but if there’s rain and low cloud then it will be almost impossible to get it through.
‘It’s 50/50 at the moment, but we have lots of options, the decision will be made, at this stage we’re hoping for the best.’
A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson also said: ‘The latest weather information will be obtained from both the Met Office and from our helicopters performing weather checks in advance of the main flypast on Saturday.
‘If suitable, the flypast will continue as planned. If not, then there are options available to reduce the numbers of aircraft, with cancellation being the last resort.’
Elsewhere across the UK, there will be a ‘north-south’ split, with mostly grey and damp conditions across the Midlands, Wales and southern England, while northern England will be mostly dry until later in the day.
Northern Ireland and Scotland are set to see a mixture of sunshine and heavy showers, with temperatures in parts of the Highlands up to 19C.
Met Office Chief Meteorologist Matthew Lehnert said: ‘An area of rain is expected to move into southwest England early on Saturday, moving northeast through the day with some heavy bursts at times.
‘This is likely to bring some rain to London from mid-morning. Further north in Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland it will be a day of sunshine and showers before the more persistent rain moves northwards overnight.
‘Under the cloud and rain, temperatures will be subdued with 16 °C in London, whilst 20 °C is likely in sunnier northwest Scotland.’
Tens of thousands of royal fans poured into the Mall early this morning to try and get a front row view of the historic Coronation procession
Decked out in their patriotic best, keen royal fans arrived in London early today
According to Met Office analysis of coronations since Edward VII in 1902, the current warmest on record was that of George V on June 22, 1911, when temperatures reached 17C (63F).
On the late Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, on June 2, 1953, the maximum temperature was just 11.8C (53.2F).
Coronations during the 20th Century were also generally dull, with no sunshine recorded on George V or George VI’s coronations and only 1.2 hours when Queen Elizabeth was crowned.
The UK’s warmest day of the year so far was April 17, when 21.2C (70.2F) was recorded at Kinlochewe in northern Scotland.
However Thursday’s weather ran close to this, with a UK high of 20.9C (69.6F) recorded at Charlwood in Surrey.