Britons flock to Dubai's QE2 to watch King Charles III's coronation

British residents come together to mark historic event far from home

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Patriotic Britons made a royal appointment at Dubai's Queen Elizabeth II floating hotel on Saturday to watch King Charles III's coronation.

Many came dressed in red, white and blue — the UK flag colours — and wore crowns and tiaras to mark the occasion at the former ocean liner.

It is the first coronation to be held in 70 years, and the QE2 was a fitting location for celebrations in the UAE, given its history as a British transatlantic liner and a cruise ship from 1969 to 2008.

Now operating as a hotel in Port Rashid, Bur Dubai, organisers opened the QE2's doors to nearly 500 guests on Saturday.

A perfect place to watch

Royal pageantry was on full display on the former ocean liner. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Sharon Codner, a Briton who lives in Dubai, was there with her twin sister Sara and their friend.

“What a perfect place to be — the QE2,” she said.

“This is the first coronation in our lifetime so far. The last one was 70 years ago.

“There’s probably going to be a few tears later, as well. It really grounds you. We’ll remember it for the rest of our lives.”

There were gatherings held at three venues on the floating hotel, including at its ballroom called The Queen’s Room, the Golden Lion bar and at the Queen’s Grill restaurant.

Large screens placed in each of the locations helped guests follow the events from Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.

Pomp and ceremony

Hundreds  of guests enjoyed the historic ceremony on board the 'QE2'.
Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Men dressed as British royal guards greeted guests into the ballroom, where a luncheon with traditional British dishes were being served.

Paul Jude, a Briton who has been a Dubai resident for 10 years, was attending with his wife and daughter.

“For the majority of people in the UK, this will be the first coronation that they would’ve had in their lifetime, which makes it a colossally historical event,” he said.

“This is an ideal place to celebrate it because it’s quintessentially British, with a great history to it.

“It’s nice that there are so many expats, UK in particular among others, that come together and celebrate these sort of events.”

Jay Pathak, a Briton who has been living in Dubai for 16 years, also attended the event with his wife and three young children.

He said that the UAE does a “great job” in hosting important historical events.

“It’s lovely being in a place like Dubai, in the Middle East, where we can celebrate something so special to the UK people,” he said.

“It’s what best about Dubai — it’s always celebrating different occasions, whether its religious occasions or events like the coronation.

Ferghal Purcell, general manager of QE2, said that they were proud to host events to mark historic days in the UK.

“It’s been 70 years since there’s been a coronation. King Charles will be crowned today. It’s very special.

“We don’t know how often we’ll see it again, so today is wonderful and it’s been so well-received.

“There’s a strong expat community here in Dubai and they love the sense of occasion.

“All the girls here today are beautifully attired and there’s a whole sense of patriotism on show.”

Updated: May 06, 2023, 10:33 AM