A FORMER Life Guard in the Household Cavalry has shared his incredible story of how he served just metres away from the Queen on her coronation day almost 70 years ago.

Raymond Gribble, who lives in the Underwood area of Newport, was just 19 when he served as a horseback Life Guard as the 25-year-old Elizabeth II was coronated on June 2, 1953.

Adding to his impressive accolades, Mr Gribble, now aged 89, was one of just four to be chosen to ride in front of the Queen at her very first Trooping of the Colour.

Mr Gribble, originally from Bridgend, is the last surviving Life Guard to have served on horseback at the coronation.

South Wales Argus: Raymond Gribble in his full uniform. Raymond Gribble in his full uniform.

The Argus visited Mr Gribble to find out more about his time as a Life Guard.

“I remember it was pouring down with rain on coronation day,” he said.

“We came out of the palace and people were screaming and shouting – nobody had thought there would be so many people there.

“We were standing outside Westminster Abbey for about four hours – soaking – we had to empty our boots once it was done.

“We were preparing for weeks ahead of the coronation and the horses behaved terribly on the day.

“They’d have us getting up at 3am for rehearsals because the streets were empty which helped us practise.”

South Wales Argus: Top picture: Mr Gribble (second right) at the Queen's coronation in 1953. Top picture: Mr Gribble (second right) at the Queen's coronation in 1953.

Mr Gribble, who joined the Household Cavalry as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in 1950, was also part of the funeral procession for the Queen’s father King George VI, who had died in February 1952.

“We were a few paces back from King George VI’s coffin,” he said.

“It was a dark day, and it was freezing cold.”

Yet despite being within touching distance of royalty, Mr Gribble confessed that his time as a Life Guard at Knightsbridge Barracks was far from glamourous.

“They used to work you hard,” Mr Gribble added.

“We used to get up at 6am every weekday – Sunday was a lie-in when they’d get us up at 7am. The Queen never visited the barracks.

“Everyone always did something different with their day and you’d have to look at the board to find out what it was you’d be doing that day.

South Wales Argus: Class photo: The full Household Cavalry. Class photo: The full Household Cavalry.

“I remember one time we had travelled up to Edinburgh on the train and we had to sleep on hay.

“It was tough, but we had some laughs.

“I’d also never had any experience with horses before I joined up – it took some time to get used to them, especially trying to mount them. But some of them would kick you – in fact, one of them actually bit me!”

Mr Gribble, who turns 90 next month, left the Household Cavalry in 1955, but said he’d stayed in touch with others who he had served with for many more years to come.

“It was a hell of a life, a great life,” he said.

“You don’t make friends like that these days. For about 30 years we all continued to meet up for the Trooping of the Colour.

South Wales Argus: Lifelong friends: The Household Cavalry would meet up for many years to come.Lifelong friends: The Household Cavalry would meet up for many years to come.

“I went out to visit my best friend Jim, who had moved out to Australia.”

In the years after Mr Gribble left the Household Cavalry, he returned to Wales to work as a policeman before taking up a job at Llanwern Steelworks.

Asked if he would be celebrating the upcoming Platinum Jubilee, Mr Gribble said: “Yes, I’ll be watching it of course, but it’ll be different.

“I remember when she and her sister were both young girls – I think she’s an amazing person.”

The Queen's platium jubilee will be marked with a four-day weekend of celebrations next month.