King Charles’ coronation, explained | The Week

On May 6, King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will be crowned during a coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London. This won’t just be one celebration — there will be events across the United Kingdom to mark the occasion, including street parties and a concert at Windsor Castle. 

What is a coronation?

A coronation is “the formal investiture of a monarch with their regal powers,” says the Royal Collection Trust, and while it’s an “occasion for pageantry and celebration … it is also a solemn religious ceremony and has remained essentially the same over 1,000 years.” It is also a state event paid for by the U.K. government. But a monarch isn’t required to have a coronation, says BBC News, noting that Edward VIII reigned without one. When his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died on Sept. 8, 2022, Charles automatically became king.

What can people expect from King Charles’ coronation?

Buckingham Palace says the event will “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.” The last coronation was in 1953, for Queen Elizabeth II, and Charles’ is expected to be smaller in scale with more religions represented, BBC News reports.

Charles and Camilla will ride from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the horse-drawn Diamond Jubilee State Coach, built for his mother’s 60th anniversary on the throne. The procession will follow a 1.3-mile route, and pass through Admiralty Arch and by Trafalgar Square and the houses of Parliament.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct the coronation service, during which Charles will be anointed with holy oil, presented with royal ceremonial objects like the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and Sovereign’s Orb, and crowned with the St. Edward’s Crown. For the first time ever, female bishops will participate in the ceremony, as will religious figures from outside the Church of England, including Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh leaders. “The service contains new elements that reflect the diversity of our contemporary society,” the archbishop said in a statement. “It is my prayer that all who share in this service, whether they are of faith or no faith, will find ancient wisdom and new hope that brings inspiration and joy.”

In another first, hymns and prayers will be sung in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, and Irish Gaelic. The king has also selected 12 new pieces of music for the service, including a coronation anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Greek Orthodox music will be played in honor of Charles’ father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who was born on the Greek island of Corfu. Members of the royal family will be involved in the ceremony, with Charles’ grandson, 9-year-old Prince George, serving as one of the pages of honor.

For their return to Buckingham Palace, Charles and Camilla will switch to the Gold State Coach, which has been used in every coronation since William IV’s in 1831. It weighs 8,800 pounds, and due to its heaviness, moves at a walking pace, The Associated Press reports. For decades, royals have been remarking on how bumpy the ride is in this coach, with Elizabeth II calling it “horrible” and William IV saying it was like “being aboard a ship tossing in a rough sea.” Once the procession is over, Charles and Camilla, joined by their relatives, will make an appearance on Buckingham Palace’s balcony.

Are people being asked to swear allegiance to the king?

The traditional “homage of peers,” during which hereditary peers swear allegiance to the new monarch, is being replaced with an “homage of the people.” At this point in the service, people inside Westminster Abbey and those watching at home “who so desire” are invited to say together, “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.”

This change is possible “because of technological advances,” a spokesman for Lambeth Palace, the archbishop’s office, told BBC News, adding, “Our hope is at that point, when the archbishop invites people to join in, that people wherever they are, if they’re watching at home on their own, watching the telly, will say it out loud, this sense of a great around the nation and around the world in support for the king.”

Who will attend the coronation?

More than 2,000 people have been invited. Because the guest list is smaller than Queen Elizabeth’s — 8,251 people attended her coronation — it’s likely there won’t be too many U.K. politicians, but senior Cabinet ministers and opposition leaders are expected to make an appearance. The White House said President Biden called Charles to let him know he won’t be attending and to convey “his desire to meet the king in the United Kingdom at a future date.” First lady Jill Biden will lead the U.S. delegation. Several foreign royals are expected to RSVP “yes,” including Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco, and invitations have also been extended to 450 recipients of British Empire medals and 400 young people from organizations chosen by Charles and Camilla, Buckingham Palace said.

After several months of speculation, the palace announced on April 12 that the king’s younger son, Prince Harry, will be at the coronation, but his wife, Meghan Markle, will stay back in the United States with their two young children (the coronation coincides with the 4th birthday of their son, Archie). Ever since Harry and Meghan stepped back from their royal duties in 2020 and moved to California, tensions between father and son have been high — and the publication of Harry’s bombshell memoir, Spare, certainly didn’t help.

How will the public be part of the coronation?

There will be a three-day weekend in the United Kingdom, with May 8th as an extra bank holiday. Residents are encouraged to participate in community events, including the Coronation Big Lunch on May 7 and the Big Help Out on May 8. The lunch is a way for neighbors to get together for a meal or street party, while the Big Help Out is a day for volunteering. For those who’d like to hang out at their favorite watering hole, pubs, clubs, and bars in England and Wales will be able to stay open for two extra hours on May 6 and 7, BBC News says.

On May 7, a Coronation Concert and light show will take place at Windsor Castle, with 10,000 free tickets available for the public; those who are unable to secure a spot can watch the show live on BBC. The lineup includes Andrea Bocelli, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Take That, Sir Bryn Terfel, Freya Ridings, and Alexis Ffrench. Richie and Perry are both judges on American Idol, and have longstanding relationships with Charles — Richie is the First Global Ambassador and First Chairman of the Global Ambassador Group for The Prince’s Trust, while Perry is an ambassador of The British Asian Trust, a charity co-founded by king.

On May 6, King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will be crowned during a coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London. This won’t just be one celebration — there will be events across the United Kingdom to mark the occasion, including street parties and a concert at Windsor Castle.  What is a coronation?…

On May 6, King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will be crowned during a coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London. This won’t just be one celebration — there will be events across the United Kingdom to mark the occasion, including street parties and a concert at Windsor Castle.  What is a coronation?…