Why Aussies won’t get a Coronation public holiday

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The reason why Australians won’t get a public holiday to mark the King’s Coronation has been revealed.

And it’s all because the historic event is taking place on a Saturday.

While Brits and those in British territories including the Cayman Islands and Bermuda get the day off work, leaders of other Commonwealth nations have refused to declare a public day of celebrations.

“As the Coronation falls on a weekend, Australians are encouraged to celebrate and acknowledge the event on the day itself,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Friday.

But Aussies shouldn’t despair, with the Queen’s Birthday public holiday on Monday June 12 still going ahead for everyone except those living in Queensland and West Australia. WA locals will have to wait until September 25, while those in Queensland holding out until October 2.

King Charles III hosts the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at Buckingham Palace. Picture: GettyKing Charles III hosts the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at Buckingham Palace. Picture: Getty

None of those dates are the actual birth dates of Queen or Charles – with the late Monarch born on April 21 and King Charles born on November 14.

Mr Albanese twice this week refused to ruled out holding a referendum on Australia becoming a republic.

Monarchists said it was hypocritical of the Labor leader – a known republican – to commit to swearing the royalty oath at Saturday’s Coronation and meet King Charles when he wants an Australian head of state.

“I’m a republican, you can be a lifelong republican, which I am, and still respect institutions,” Mr Albanese said, after the backlash from his interview with British broadcaster Piers Morgan.

“I have a great respect for [Charles]. It’s a great honour to be here to represent Australia regardless of the different views people have of our constitutional arrangements.

“As the Prime Minister of Australia I will swear the oath but that doesn’t mean Australia doesn’t have a wide range of views.”

But Australian Monarchist League spokesperson Alexander Voltz said Mr Albanese was “proving his hypocrisy” and trying to “have his cake and eat it too”.

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Nervous? No. Incredibly excited? You’d better believe it.

That’s the overwhelming feeling coming from 39 proud Australians marching in Saturday’s Coronation procession among thousands of fellow soldiers, sailors and air force personnel from the UK and 35 Commonwealth countries.

Although they will be watched by hundreds of millions around the world, the training and dry runs – including a 15-hour overnight dress rehearsal earlier this week – have paid off; now the specially-selected members of Australia’s Federation Guard are raring to go.

For 33-year RAAF veteran Warrant Officer Ivan Petrovic, of Bathurst, NSW, there will be two key highlights – starting with the enormous parade along the world-famous Mall, lined with huge crowds, more soldiers, and flags from all around the world, as massed bands play.

“I’m looking forward to marching down the Mall, in particular,” he said. “Then at the end there when we’re in Buckingham Palace, in the grounds and behind the palace, we will give three cheers to the king and queen. That will be a great moment: nice and loud and fantastic.”

The “hip-hip hooray” to be roared in sync by thousands of military personnel assembled in the palace gardens as the newly-crowned king and queen arrive, is also top of Able Seaman Tammy Vaughn’s list.

The five-year naval veteran from Wagga Wagga, NSW, came to London from France, where she had an important role as part of the catafalque party for the televised Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux.

Aussie troops prepare for the King’s coronation procession.

She has also performed in other ceremonial roles overseas and all around Australia; however not much can beat being part of this enormous historical occasion.

“It’s been a really cool experience being here,” she said. “Growing up, you see them (the royal family) in magazines, you see them on TV, so it’s great to be part of one of their special moments.”

Army medical technician Corporal Mickey Umile said seeing the King and cheering him at Buckingham Palace would be the “cherry on top” of it all. Like most of her comrades she is excited, rather than nervous, and will be thinking of family watching from afar, in her case in Melbourne and Thailand.

“This has been one of the highlights of my career,” she said.

The members of the AFG – a ceremonial unit drawn from all three services – feel an esprit de corps with the 360 other Commonwealth soldiers marching on Saturday, with whom they have been living and rehearsing at the massive British army base at Pirbright, just outside London.

The spirit of companionship was visible in small but important practical terms as the troops gathered at Pirbright on Thursday for final rehearsals and a presentation by top brass – different nationalities chatting, exchanging patches and helping each other out when gear.

For Able Seaman Vaughn it is the host nation that stands out – “I definitely feel at home when I’m here” – Corporal Umile has been making friends from Brunei and Barbados, while Warrant Officer Petrovic rates the guys and girls with the maple leaf badges.

“I love the Canadians,” he said. “They’re really good fun. And there are a lot of other countries that are just really enjoying themselves being here. It’s a great, great atmosphere to be part of.”

And it’s not just the troops on parade – senior officers feel it too.

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“What you have done together has been quite extraordinary,” said Major-General Eldon Miller on Thursday, thanking the Commonwealth forces on behalf of the UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff, after inspecting and presenting them all with commemorative coins.

“I want to wish you the very best of luck for Saturday, when quite literally the eyes of the world will be upon you as we celebrate the Coronation.”

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