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Stratford man was guest at coronation and also met pop royalty

“I’M just getting back to normal with the magnitude of the whole thing – it was amazing,” the words of former soldier, John Webb, from Stratford who was at Westminster Abbey as a guest at the coronation.

Not only did John sit less than ten feet away from King Charles and the royal procession as it passed his vantage point, after the ceremony he bumped into pop royalty when he met international star Lionel Richie and had his photograph taken with him outside the abbey.

John Webb meets Lionel Richie outside the abbey.
John Webb meets Lionel Richie outside the abbey.

The whole experience was unbelievable and in his words “it will take weeks to compute.”

“When the King came in it was a “wow” moment. He’s humble and his humility is beyond money. I cried with emotion at the new King and singing the national anthem,” John said.

Following the death of his partner, Fiona, from cancer in 2020, John found himself in a dark place grieving for her, bringing up their three children and coping with the pandemic.

The mental pressures were immense, so he turned to the Royal British Legion (RBL) for help and its response and support was instant. Since then he’s become an ambassador for the charity and gives speeches and presentations all over the country to armed forces personnel raising awareness about mental health issues. His RBL role led to his invitation to be one of the 2,000 people in the abbey last Saturday.

Before the coronation, John teamed up with vets from The Falklands, The Gulf War and Afghanistan and they made their way to Westminster Abbey where the queues started at 7.10am

“There were immense security checks,” John said. “We were given our Order of Service for the Coronation and shown to amazing seats. The colours, the vibrancy, the religious leaders, the commonwealth leaders and former PMs and the service was an amazing experience. Then I met Lionel afterwards and asked him if he minded me taking a selfie with him and he said “fine” he’s a beautiful person.”

On the walk back to the hotel near Marble Arch the vets stopped off in two pubs and were cheered and clapped by drinkers inside who saw their suits and medals and applauded them. They could also see from the Order of Service that the group had just come from the coronation.

“There were visitors from Norway and Germany who had come over just for the occasion. That is the draw of the royal family and the economic bonus for this country. Camilla looked elegant and beautiful. Kate was stunning. Harry and William lost their mum at a young age just like my children lost theirs. The coronation was an impossible dream that came true and nobody’s going to take it away from me,” John said.

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