The first thing Reece Wilkie did was burst into tears. The second thing she did was think: what on earth am I going to wear?

In case you’re wondering, she’s gone for a black-and-cream striped dress with a fascinator (she wouldn’t want to block anyone’s view in the abbey with a big hat, she says).

Nicole Christie’s reaction was similar. It was a big surprise to be invited to the coronation, she says and an honour, but she was also delighted by the recognition of her success, and her struggles. Nicole is an award-winning fashion designer but her life hasn’t always been easy: she once spent months in hospital with an eating disorder and was told she had only days to live.

For both women, it’s going to be a striking and memorable day at the coronation on Saturday but they also know they’ll be among a large group of other Scots in the Abbey. Some come from ancient aristocratic Scottish families and will have a direct role to play in the often arcane ceremonies, but many have been invited for their community work or personal achievements.

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Reece Wilkie’s invitation was the culmination of a relationship with the King and his work in Scotland that has had a significant impact on her life. Mrs Wilkie, 75, lives in Cumnock in Ayrshire, and it was through the work of the Prince’s Foundation that she gained the first formal qualification of her life in her 70s.

The Herald: Reece Wilkie will be taking her place at Westminster Abbey on SaturdayReece Wilkie will be taking her place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday (Image: Reece Wilkie)

“I left school at 15 with no qualifications,” she said, “but about seven years ago I joined the sewing bee at Dumfries House. I did sew about 30 years ago but had lost confidence and I was then asked if I’d like to do a City and Guilds in sewing skills and it’s been brilliant.”

Mrs Wilkie has also seen a transformation in her town and the surrounding area since Dumfries House was bought by a consortium headed by the then Prince of Wales in 2007 – it is now the headquarters of The Prince’s Foundation in Scotland. Mrs Wilkie attended a tea dance at the house this week in a union-jack dress which she designed and made herself.

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“The effect on the area has been fantastic,” she says. “I came to the house at the beginning and there was nothing – bare walls and no furniture. It was pretty run down. Now the number of visitors it brings to the area is unbelievable. I’ve seen the influence the royal family can have for the good. It’s a happy place.”

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Mrs Wilkie’s relationship with the coronation also goes back a long way. When she was growing up in Galashiels in the 50s, she remembers going with her friends to the local picture house to watch the Queen’s coronation on Pathe News. She was also given a coronation mug filled with red, white, and blue sweeties (she still has the mug but ate the sweeties). “I know some folk, maybe younger people, don’t have the same allegiance,” she says, “but it’s tradition and it’s important to have a focus.”

Nicole Christie is also a big fan of the Royal Family and is grateful for the help she’s received in her career from the King’s charities. The 27-year-old from East Kilbride is the founder of the fashion brand Ellipsis and is a graduate of the Modern Artisan, a collaboration between The Prince’s Foundation and YOOX Net-a-Porter, which champions the skills needed to make high-quality, sustainable clothes.

Ms Christie says the training she received on the course changed her life and she means it. She now has her own successful company, based in Parkhead in Glasgow, and has overcome considerable difficulties to achieve it. When she was 16, she was diagnosed with EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), a diagnosis often given when a patient meets many, but not all, of the criteria for anorexia or bulimia.

At one point, things got so bad for Ms Christie that she ended up in hospital and was told her life was at risk. “When I was in hospital, the doctors said I had two days to live,” she said. “But that’s what helps me quite a lot now in trying to motivate me – because I’ve been there. I try to be positive. I actually think that in life I’ve been very lucky.”

Ms Christie has since established the Ellipsis brand, attended the Modern Artisan course, and last year met the then Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Prince’s Foundation’s Trinity Buoy Wharf, a centre for arts and cultural activities in London.

She said: “The Modern Artisan changed my life and helped open up so many doors and it’s an honour to be invited to the coronation.” As for the question of what she’ll be wearing, it will be one of her own designs of course.

The Herald: Nicole Christie is making her way to London for the CoronationNicole Christie is making her way to London for the Coronation (Image: Nicole Christie)

Other Scots who will be in the congregation alongside Mrs Wilkie and Ms Christie on Saturday include recipients of the British Empire Medal such as John Anderson, 72, from Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, who received the medal in recognition of his community work during the pandemic. The retired firefighter helped set up a centre that people could call to ask for a food parcel and have it delivered to their home.

Among the other Scots attending on Saturday is the Earl of Dundee who will lead the procession of the King and Queen with others including the Duke of Westminster. The Earl will be carrying the Royal Standard.

The Duke of Buccleuch will also be there carrying the Sceptre with Cross at the abbey. The sceptre, which signifies the crown’s power, was last seen during Queen Elizabeth’s funeral service.

Also in attendance will be the Earl of Errol who will be present in his role as Lord High Constable of Scotland. The Lord High Constable once held the keys to parliament before 1707 but it is now a ceremonial role. He occupies the place immediately behind the monarch on formal occasions.