Alexandria group to have ‘Bloody Camilla,’ ‘King Charles coffee’ drinks at predawn coronation party

Members of the Daughters of the British Empire Pimms and Poppies Chapter attend the Scottish Day Parade last December. (Courtesy Daughters of the British Empire Pimms and Poppies Chapter)

When King Charles III and Queen Camilla are crowned Saturday in London, a group of stylishly dressed women, wearing regal hats, fascinators and tiaras will gather at an Old Town Alexandria pub to watch the royal coronation.

“In the last 200 years, there’ve been more solar eclipses than there have been coronations,” said Heidi Schneble, regent of the Alexandria-based Pimms and Poppies Chapter of the Daughters of the British Empire, a women’s group founded in 1909 dedicated to British heritage and in support of local charities.

“Talk about the enthusiasm. It is very enthusiastic because we are going to be starting at 5:30 in the morning because of the time change with London. The coronation starts at 11 a.m. their time, so there’s definitely enthusiasm to get people up at 5:30 on a Saturday morning,” Schneble said.

Members of the group have already begun laying out their wardrobe, some will come dressed in period costumes for the private predawn watch party at Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub.

“Oh, we have the full breakfast,” Kelly McCarthy, Virginia State president of the Daughters of the British Empire, said. “We will have a full buffet, and we are having some signature cocktails to celebrate the occasion, including a Bloody Camilla and a King Charles coffee.”

Also, of course, at that hour of the morning, there will also be some virgin beverages and lots of tea, of course.

At the watch party, eyes will be on the pub’s big-screen TVs, carrying the coverage from London of the historic coronation. In particular, the women said they’re looking forward to seeing the ceremony in Westminster Abbey.

“They’ve put together a fantastic ceremony, and I think everybody will be very impressed,” McCarthy said.

“I’m looking forward to all of the different parts as it goes along from the recognition to the oath. Of course, I’m looking forward to when the king is presented with all the regalia, the robes, the, orb, the scepter,” said Schneble, who has never before seen a royal coronation.

The women concede that it won’t be easy for King Charles to fill the shoes of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, who garnered deep, abiding respect around the globe during her 70-year reign before her death in 2022.

“Obviously, we all miss the queen because she was such a big part of British heritage for such a long time, and it’s hard to adjust to singing ‘God Save The King’ at events … it’s a very rare occasion, and we’re all going to gather together and support it very enthusiastically,” McCarthy said.

“She was … the only monarch a lot of us knew, but King Charles has been preparing for this since he was 3 … he had the best training that you could possibly have. And I think the queen consort has given him a lot of support, and she has done a lot of work on behalf of the crown and we wish her all the best, wish them both all the best for Britain and for the Commonwealth and their future reign,” Schneble said.

Proceeds from The Virginia State Daughters of the British Empire watch party Saturday morning will go to Alexandria Meals on Wheels.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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