Shropshire Star

Shropshire mayor invited to coronation reveals what it was like - and her nearest royal

A mayor of a Shropshire market town has said she will remember forever being at the King's coronation at the weekend.

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Bridgnorth Town Council Mayor Karen Sawbridge

Karen Sawbridge, Mayor of Bridgnorth, was among 450 BEMs (British Empire Medallists) who were invited to witness the crowning of Charles III in Westminster Abbey on Saturday.

Councillor Sawbridge, who won her BEM for services to grassroots rugby in 2022, said: "It was unbelievable. Better than you could imagine. Everything was so perfect and the service was just magical."

The Bridgnorth mayor was among the first of the BEM recipients to be seated on the Abbey on the morning of the coronation, and was able to see the throngs of dignitaries and royalty file into the church.

"Even when I was walking to the Abbey in my heels at seven o'clock there were thousands of people in London.

"But getting into the Abbey wasn't difficult and I was seated at around 7.20am.

"I saw them all file in. Penny Mordaunt was just fabulous, but in the area I was sat there were dignitaries from all over the world. Some of the costumes and dresses were amazing, especially the flagbearers. My eyes were just wide open taking it all in."

Councillor Sawbridge got to see Penny Mordaunt holding the Sword of State at the coronation service. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire.

She added the closest royal was the Duke of Sussex, who sat just 10 metres away.

"I could see the back of Harry's head about ten metres in front of me but he was transfixed on the service. The atmosphere was just electric when everybody was finally seated with all the apprehension and excitement," she said.

"I couldn't see some of it as there was a wall obscuring my view, but we did have a screen near so we could see it on there. It is something that will stay in my memory forever. It was amazing to be part of history like that."

The Duke of Sussex was the nearest royal to the Mayor of Bridgnorth. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

Councillor Sawbridge's invitation to Westminster Abbey came as she nears the end of her mayoral term in Bridgnorth and will be handing over the chains of office to Councillor Rachel Connelly on May 16.

"What a way to finish," she said. "I have been really lucky with the timing to have had experienced this at the end of my term, but Rachel will do an amazing job. She is very much a people person."