On Saturday, King Charles III came to Westminster Abbey in London to be crowned in Britain’s grandest ceremonial event in seven decades, a spectacular display of splendor going back 1,000 years.
Charles succeeded his mother, Queen Elizabeth when she died in September, and at the age of 74, he will be the oldest British monarch to have the 360-year-old St Edward’s Crown placed on his head as he sits on a 14th-century throne at London’s Westminster Abbey.
In front of roughly 100 heads of state and dignitaries, including US First Lady Jill Biden, Charles will be crowned at the abbey, which has hosted all of the country’s coronations since William the Conqueror in 1066.
During the two-hour ceremony, his second wife Camilla, 75, will also be proclaimed queen, attempting to present a forward-thinking monarchy and nation steeped in history.
“No other country could put on such a dazzling display – the processions, pageantry, ceremonies, and street parties,” stated Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“It’s a proud expression of our culture, history, and traditions.” A clear display of our country’s modern spirit. And a treasured tradition that ushers in a new age.”
Despite Sunak’s enthusiasm, the coronation takes place in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and popular scepticism, particularly among the youth, regarding the monarchy’s role and importance, as well as financial concerns.
Saturday’s event will be less in scale than the one held for Queen Elizabeth in 1953, but it will still be stunning, with an assortment of historical regalia ranging from golden orbs and bejewelled swords to a sceptre carrying the world’s largest colourless cut diamond.
Following the service, Charles and Camilla will ride back to Buckingham Palace in the four-tonne Gold State Coach created for George III, the last king of Britain’s American colonies, in a one-mile parade of 4,000 military men in ceremonial uniforms from 39 nations.
It will be the largest spectacle of its type in Britain since Charles’ mother’s coronation. Thousands are anticipated to line the streets, and millions more are expected to watch at home and around the world.
Organisers have taken the “best bits” from previous coronations, jubilee celebrations and the late queen’s funeral procession to prepare a spectacular event, said a Ministry of Defence spokesperson.
Charles and Camilla will travel from Buckingham Palace to the abbey in the modern Diamond State Jubilee Coach, which will commence service at 1000 GMT.
They will pass through jubilant throngs as well as what anti-monarchists claim will be the largest Republican demonstration. Over 11,000 police officers will be on duty, ready to put a stop to any attempted disruption.
Officials indicated that once at the abbey, most of the ritual will include features that Charles’ forefathers dating back to King Edgar in 973 would recognise. The coronation anthem “Zadok The Priest” by Handel will be sung, as it has been since 1727.
However, there will be new features, such as an anthem penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber, best known for his West End and Broadway theatre productions, and a gospel choir.
It is a Christian service, but there will be an “unprecedented” greeting from religious leaders, and Charles’ grandson Prince George and Camilla’s youngsters will serve as pages.
However, neither Charles’ younger son Prince Harry, who had a public falling out with his family, nor his brother Prince Andrew, who was compelled to resign from royal duties due to his association with late US businessman Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, will have a formal involvement.
Before the most solemn phase of the event, when Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby anoints Charles on his hands, head, and breast with holy oil sanctified in Jerusalem, Charles will make oaths to govern justly and defend the Church of England, of which he is the titular head.
Britain’s King Charles speaks to guests at Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, on May 5, 2023, during a banquet for overseas guests attending his coronation.
Following the presentation of symbolic regalia to Charles, Welby will place the St Edward’s Crown on his head, and the congregation will scream out, “God save the King!”
Prince William, his eldest son, and heir, will then kneel before his father, placing his hands between the king’s and swearing his fealty as “your liege man of life and limb.”
Welby will ask everyone in the abbey and across the country to pledge loyalty to Charles, a new aspect of the coronation that will replace the tribute previously sworn by senior dukes and lords of the realm.
However, the anti-monarchist group Republic has called it insulting, requiring Welby to clarify that it is an offer, not a command.
Following their return to Buckingham Palace, the royals will make their traditional appearance on the balcony, which will be accompanied by a fly-past by military aircraft.
Forecasters stated that the weather in London could involve severe bursts of rain, which could entail a scaled-back or even canceled fly-past.
Celebrations will continue on Sunday with nationwide street parties and a concert at the king’s Windsor Castle home, and on Monday when thousands of organizations are taking part in volunteering projects.
On May 5, 2023, well-wishers assemble on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, ahead of the coronation of Britain’s King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort. REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHY
In a BBC program five years ago, Queen Elizabeth stated that her coronation marked the true beginning of her life as ruler.