AT times today, York’s Martin Rowley has felt as though he was in a dream – and that if he pinched himself, he might wake up.

But it was no dream.

Martin – a York funeral director, Conservative city councillor and school governor – really had been invited to witness the Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey.

He was one of just 2,200 people admitted into the abbey for today’s historic ceremony – and he found himself rubbing shoulders with politicians and celebrities from Ant and Dec, Nick Cave and Lionel Richie to Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer.

Martin had been invited to take part today because, in 2020, he was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community. He has, he said, been a school governor in York (currently at Archbishop Holgate’s) for almost 20 years.

York Press: Martin Rowley ready to set off to LondonMartin Rowley ready to set off to London (Image: Martin Rowley)

And today’s ceremony was every bit as historic and spine-tingling as he had expected, he said.

He will never forget the expression on King Charles’ face as he entered the abbey this morning.

“He looked – not overwhelmed, but as though he understood the enormity and seriousness of what he was about to do,” Martin said.

York Press: King Charles at the Coronation ceremony in Westminster AbbeyKing Charles at the Coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey (Image: PA)

“It really was a moment of history – one that I will never forget and will regale my grandchildren and great-grandchildren with for years to come.”

For Martin – who was successfully re-elected as Conservative councillor for Osbaldwick and Derwent Ward just yesterday – today began when his alarm clock went off at 3.30am.

He caught a 4.40am train, arrived in London at 7am, and then headed to a special security marquee near the Houses of Parliament, where all the invitees were checked.

“It was surreal,” he said. “I bumped into Ant and Dec and was talking to them, and in the queue got talking to Prof Chris Witty.”

He was in the abbey by 8.15am. Seats were colour-coded, and he chose a seat where he would be able to see the Royal Family as they entered.

Queen Consort Camilla looked confident and serene as she walked in, he says.

But King Charles looked as though he had the weight of history on his shoulders. “He looked very nervous!”

York Press: Queen Consort Camilla after being crownedQueen Consort Camilla after being crowned (Image: PA)

The moment when the crown was placed on the King’s head was truly a moment of history,Martin says. And the music throughout the service was stunning.

“When they played Zadoc The Priest and you heard the choir come in – the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.”

Afterwards, while filing out of the Abbey, he took a selfie with Boris Johnson, then got talking to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – and Sir Keir Starmer.

Mr Sunak congratulated him on holding his city council seat.

“And I mentioned to Sir Keir that Labour had won in York by one seat. He said ‘Yes, yes, that’s good!'”

York Press: Martin Rowley with Boris Johnson after the Coronation of King Charles IIIMartin Rowley with Boris Johnson after the Coronation of King Charles III (Image: Martin Rowley)

Martin emerged from the abbey to be faced by a bank of journalists and TV cameras – and ended up giving an interview to a TV crew from Dubai.

“It was almost like a dream!” he said. “Except it wasn’t!”