30 January marks a grim date in the annals of London history.
On this day in 1649, King Charles I was led from St James's Palace to Banqueting House on Whitehall, in front of which he was beheaded, thus drawing a gory line under the English Civil War.
For the past half century, The King's Army — a royalist branch of the English Civil War Society — has commemorated what they call "His Majestie's horrid murder", and on Sunday 28 January 2024, they return for their 52nd parade.
The full-costumed march — think dozens of volunteers in royalist costumes, mounted troops and weapons — traces the short final journey of the King, as he was escorted to the scaffold.
The reenactment group forms near St James's Palace, on the Mall in period funeral dress at around 11.15am. Then, at 11.30am, they proceed to Horse Guard's Parade for a commemorative service, in which a wreath is laid at Banqueting House. (It's a well-known, if disputed, piece of London trivia that a black mark at 2pm on the clock above Horse Guards signifies the the time that the axe fell on Charles' neck.)
Next, the army — now changed into battle dress — retrace the route back to St James's Palace, beating drums, flying the King's colours and proclaiming their loyalty to him. (This may all sound a little strange in 2024, given that we once again have a King Charles.)
Wherever your own monarchist loyalties lie, this is a chance to experience a touch of time travel in central London — and it's free, too. If you really are a dyed in the wool republican, you can always feast on a calve's head [sic] instead.
March in Commemoration of Charles I, starts on the Mall around 11am, Sunday 28 January 2024. It's free, just turn up.