King Charles coronation: Pembrokeshire horse takes centre stage

·3 min read

A shire horse raised on a farm in rural Wales will be centre stage during the coronation procession of King Charles III.

Ed - now known as Major Apollo - is a ceremonial drum horse raised in Eglwyswrw, Pembrokeshire.

He also took part in Queen Elizabeth II's funeral procession.

The role involves leading 200 other horses on the procession route on the streets of London, carrying the ceremonial kettle drum.

He was the second horse to be sold by Dyfed Shire Horse Farm to the Household Cavalry in December 2019, following in the hoofprints of Celt, who became a drum horse in 2008.

A third shire horse from the farm, Willa Rose, has also been bought by the Household Cavalry and is being trained as a drum horse.

Major Apollo stands at more than 17 hands (1.73m or 5ft 6in), weighs nearly 800kg (125 stone) and has been trained to carry a musician and drums during ceremonial events.

Camilla, the Queen Consort, and Ed (now Major Apollo) during a visit to Dyfed Shire Horse Farm in July 2018
Camilla, the Queen Consort, and Ed (now Major Apollo) during a visit to Dyfed Shire Horse Farm in July 2018

Major Apollo's royal links stretch back to July 2018, when Camilla, the Queen Consort, visited the farm along with the King, who was then Prince of Wales.

She took the reins as Ed pulled her around the farm on a carriage ride.

Huw Murphy helps run the farm with his family, and he has been to London to watch Major Apollo's preparations for the big day.

He said: "They are the highest ranking animals in the British Army. I was down there last week and it is a joy to see how they look after these horses.

"They care for them with exceptional love. The drum horse leads the procession and leads the Household Cavalry mounted regiment band."

Major Apollo will have the kettle drum that dates back to the reign of King Charles II (1660-1685), and Mr Murphy said it would represent "hundreds of years and the history and the pageantry is unique to this country".

Having grown up on the farm around the shire horses, Mr Murphy's mother Enid Cole said it would be a source of great pride to the family.

"There'll be about 200 horses behind him. The drum horse's role is to lead all the others and it's quite a demanding role.

"The drums are very heavy and you've got the soldier on as well," she said.

"You've got the noise, they've got to acquaint themselves with that. They rehearse early in the morning before London wakes up. It will be very, very special.

"Not only is Ed in the procession, but when did we last have a coronation? Most probably, I won't see another coronation."

Mr Murphy said he was hopeful both Willa Rose and Ed would be ready to bring more pride at the King's birthday parade later this year.

"We've got two shire horses there, and it appears both will hopefully be on the Trooping the Colour ceremony in June, all being well," he said.