Two proclamations were made in Sandbach on Sunday to announce the start of the reign of King Charles III following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday at the age of 96.
It followed a gathering of the Accession Council at St James’s Palace in London on Saturday morning, broadcast live for the first time in history, to formally proclaim the accession of the successor to the throne under the Act of Settlement 1701.
The Garter King of Arms, one of the Heralds of the College of Arms, then read the proclamation from the palace balcony followed a short time later by the Lord Mayor of the City of London repeating its text.
In past times the speech was sent by a number of messengers to the far corners of the United Kingdom and abroad, with lord lieutenants and mayors formally reading out the proclamation at specially-convened events or at a special place in the city, town or village (writes Stewart Green).
On Sunday, Cheshire East Council held its proclamation event at its Westfields headquarters in Sandbach.
The historic proceedings were introduced by vice-lord lieutenant of Cheshire Joelle Warren MBE, DL, after which the borough mayor, Coun David Marren read the proclamation.
The Ven Ian Bishop, archdeacon of Macclesfield, conducted a short service to commemorate the life of the Queen and to pray for the new King before the first verse of the national anthem, God Save the King, was sung.
Flags, which had flown at half mast since the Queen’s death, were raised briefly to their full height to mark the start of the King’s reign.
In attendance were numerous councillors, mayors of the county and Dr Kieran Mullan, MP for Crewe and Nantwich.
An hour later, at 4pm, the proclamation was read out by Sandbach Town Mayor Coun Kathryn Flavell on Market Square.
She was accompanied by a brass band put together at short notice by Coun Laura Crane, with band members from Foden’s Youth Band, Acceler8 Band (formerly Crewe ATC and Co-operative Funeralcare), Lions Youth Band and other local musicians.
Hymns were played before the proclamation and the new national anthem at the end of the reading, with a run through with music only so the audience could prepare for the new words to God Save the King.
As the event played out, with Coun Flavell standing on the steps of the Saxon Crosses, a sea of mobile phones recorded the event.
She started by giving the history of the proclamation and how it was relayed across the country from London to the regions and then the boroughs.
The proclamation was then read as it was in London the previous day followed by the national anthem and the sound of the church bells of St Mary’s ringing out to welcome the new King.
As a sign of respect for Queen Elizabeth II the bells had been muffled but these were removed for the end of the reading, again as a sign of respect this time for the new King before being replaced again during the rest of the period of mourning.
When asked about the ceremony, Coun Flavell was unsure as to who was traditionally supposed to have read out the proclamation as the arrangements had been made at short notice, but most towns in the country had its leader making the announcement – from town mayors to council leaders.
The town council was only informed about the event the previous day and after frantic phone calls to make arrangements, it was then more about getting the word out to the public via social media and word of mouth.
Coun Flavell said she was “absolutely amazed” at the turnout, which she said was “absolutely fantastic”.
She added: “We had a great crowd, fantastic band and the bells – it has been amazing. To come here and stand by these historic crosses and to look out on a sea of people who are just residents of Sandbach, it was absolutely amazing to see that they have all come out for this. I am really proud to be mayor of Sandbach, today.”
When asked about the new King’s coronation to come Coun Flavell said that Sandbach Town Council will “certainly be doing a big event” and was already talking about it.
She explained: “There are pictures of an event held in the Market Square in 1953 so it would be great to have another huge occasion. Of course, the town is much bigger now and they would have to be careful as the whole town could not fit in the Market Square but the council will certainly be thinking about what arrangements are to be planned well ahead of the event.”