Shropshire Star

Newport man, 93, recalls previous coronations as Charles III becomes his fifth monarch

A 93-year-old man has recounted his memories of living through the reigns of five monarchs.

Paul Newbury, aged 93, has seen the reign of five British monarchs throughout his lifetime

King Charles III is the fifth British monarch in the lifetime of a handful of residents around the county, including Newport's Paul Newbury.

When Paul was born in 1930, King George V still reigned, having been on the throne for 20 years.

Paul, being just five years old when His Majesty died in January 1936, remembers little about the reign of George V.

He explained: "I was listening to the radio with my parents when I was five, and I heard the announcement that George V had died. I do remember it, but being so young it didn't mean very much to me."

King George V died when Paul Newbury was just five years old

Following the death of George V his eldest son became King Edward VIII. However, his reign didn't last a year as his desire to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson caused a constitutional crisis and led to his abdication in November 1936.

With a reign of 326 days, Edward VIII was one of the shortest-reigning British monarchs to date, and was never crowned.

King Edward VIII abdicated after 10 months due to his desire to marry Wallis Simpson

The drama passed young Paul by, who recalls the 1937 coronation of Edward's brother, Albert, who became King George VI.

"I even still remember the date," Paul recalled: "May 12, 1937. Of course, it was all eclipsed by the war."

Paul grew up in a small farming community on the outskirts of another Newport, in Monmouthshire.

"It was a very little village, they put on a sports day and invited all the children from all the schools to run races and things - that's how they celebrated. The country did have street parties, but my village was even too small for that."

King George VI reigned from November 1936 until February 1952

Never expected to become King, George VI was a popular monarch, due largely to his reign throughout the Second World War.

After George's younger brother, the Duke of Kent was killed on active service, and Buckingham Palace was bombed during the Blitz while the King and Queen were in residence, George VI was seen as sharing the hardships of Britain's people and his popularity soared.

Famously, during the Victory in Europe Day celebrations in 1945, crowds in front of Buckingham Palace chanted "We want the King!".

Paul remembers King George VI fondly: "He was a remarkable man, he was known very famously for his stammer. He underwent a lot of therapy to try and improve his speech, and he would manage it.

"He would often take these long pauses to pull himself together and start again. I think because of that his talents weren't apparent because he couldn't show himself in his true light.

"And then, of course, he died very suddenly, while the poor Queen [then Princess Elizabeth] was away on tour."

The stress of the war had taken its toll on George's health, exacerbated by a range of health conditions. A planned tour of Australia and New Zealand was postponed after George suffered an arterial blockage.

The delayed tour was re-organised in 1952, with Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, taking her mother and father's place.

In George VI's last public appearance, he was seen waving off the young princess and duke. He died just six days later and his daughter flew back to Britain from Kenya as Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation day in June 1953

Paul recalled watching the new Queen's coronation on a TV in his neighbour's house.

He explained: "I was newly married, and couldn't afford a television at that stage. I think it wasn't until 1958 we got our own television set. I remember my first impression being that Westminster Abbey was so very, very dark.

"It reminded me of Notre Dame, it was almost black. That's what I noticed on Saturday, how beautiful the Abbey is.

"It didn't look dark and dismal anymore, it was so light, so lovely."

Charles III is Paul Newbury's fifth monarch

Recalling nothing but positive memories of the late Queen Elizabeth II, Paul did have one thing to say to the newly crowned King Charles III: "Well, I wish him luck."