All eyes will be on Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6 May when King Charles III is crowned alongside Camilla, the Queen Consort.
Dignitaries, heads of state, celebrities and members of other royal families will all be in attendance, as will more than 1,250 volunteers and young people who have been invited to attend the ceremony itself or be part of one of its surrounding events.
Prince Harry has confirmed he will attend, but without his wife Meghan and their two children, who will remain in California.
The coronation will take place amid “a weekend of splendour and traditions dating back 1,000 years”, said the BBC, and “Brits will enjoy an extra bank holiday on Monday 8 May to mark the occasion”.
Although Charles is already King and has begun his royal duties, his official accession to the throne – the coronation – will be an important symbolic moment in his reign and for the country. However, it is expected to be a “scaled-back” affair that “takes into account the straitened times in which Britain finds itself”, said the Financial Times.
This has caused “a great hullabaloo”, said The Spectator, with critics of the more streamlined occasion arguing that pomp and ceremony is exactly what the nation needs.
When is the coronation?
The coronation of King Charles III will take place on Saturday 6 May 2023, eight months after the Queen’s death.
It is traditional to “wait until a sufficient time period of mourning has taken place” before crowning new sovereigns, said the London Evening Standard. Indeed, the late Queen’s own coronation took place some 16 months after she became monarch, on 2 June 1953, following her accession on 6 February 1952.
Where will it take place?
The coronation procession will take the King and Queen Consort from Buckingham Palace down The Mall, past Trafalgar Square and along Whitehall before arriving at Westminster Abbey, where the service will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The 1.3-mile route will be a fraction of the length of his late mother’s, “raising fears that many royal well-wishers may miss out on the chance to see the new monarch”, said The Telegraph.
Since the days of William the Conqueror – some 900 years ago – all coronations except two have been held in Westminster Abbey. “Edward V was presumed murdered in the Tower of London before he could be crowned and Edward VIII abdicated 11 months after succeeding his father so was never crowned,” explained its website.
After the service, King Charles will return to Buckingham Palace along the same route, joined in the procession by some of his family, and then appear on the Palace balcony.
What will happen during the coronation?
The monarch will be crowned alongside his wife, Queen Consort Camilla. The King will be anointed with holy oil, receive the Sovereign’s Orb, coronation ring and sceptre, and then be crowned with the majestic St Edward’s crown and blessed during the ceremony.
It has been “years in the planning” under the codename of “Operation Golden Orb”, according to the i news site. Like all coronations, it will be a “deeply religious affair” but is also expected to be “more inclusive of multi-faith Britain than past coronations” while remaining an Anglican service.
Charles will sit on the same throne that King Henry VIII, King Charles I, Queen Victoria and the late Queen Elizabeth II were all crowned on and “despite its history, the chair is covered in graffiti”, said Sky News. Much of it has been “carved by Westminster schoolboys and visitors to Westminster Abbey during the 18th and 19th centuries”, added the broadcaster, with one carving reading: “P. Abbott slept in this chair 5-6 July 1800”.
Who will attend?
It will be a significantly smaller affair than the Queen’s 1953 coronation. Then, more than 8,000 guests from 129 nations travelled to Westminster Abbey to see the Queen crowned. This time only 2,000 guests will see Charles officially crowned, said Town & Country.
Confirmed guests are said to include royals from Monaco, Japan, Denmark and Sweden, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “President Joe Biden will not be in attendance, but First Lady Jill Biden will lead a US delegation to the coronation,” said Town & Country.
Among the British Empire Medal recipients invited is 13-year-old Max Woosey, who raised more than £750,000 for North Devon Hospice by camping in his garden for three years.
In “a sign of radically changed times”, Sinn Féin “who once supported Irish Republican Army attacks on British royals” is sending a senior representative to the coronation, said Politico. Michelle O’Neill, the party’s deputy leader and first minister-designate “for the mothballed Northern Ireland government”, said she wanted to demonstrate her respect for unionists and their British identity, said the site.
Camilla’s “naughty” ex-husband will also be there, revealed The Sunday Times. Andrew Parker Bowles “will be front and centre of the congregation at Westminster Abbey watching his first wife crowned alongside King Charles, while his grandchildren take centre stage with official roles in the ceremony”, said the paper.
Who will perform?
The Palace had hoped to line up a stellar cast for the king’s coronation concert which is slated for 7 May at Windsor Castle, the day after he is officially crowned, but six of the UK’s biggest stars are said to have turned down the opportunity to perform.
According to reports in The Sun, “Elton John, the Spice Girls and Harry Styles had all been invited”, but told Buckingham Palace that their “crazy-busy schedules” meant they were unable to make the “regal shindig”. That’s after Ed Sheeran, Adele and Robbie Williams also reportedly turned down the gig.
But King Charles won’t be bereft of stars at the celebration, with Take That’s Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald due to headline the concert, as well as Australian stars Kylie and Dannii Minogue, and soul legend Lionel Richie. The concert will also feature “12 newly commissioned pieces of music” including one from Andrew Lloyd Webber, said the BBC.
The line-up will also include pop star Katy Perry, opera singer Andrea Bocelli, singer-songwriter Freya Ridings, bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, and classical-soul pioneer Alexis Ffrench.
How much will it cost?
According to a source in The Sun, the ceremony could cost around £100m. “In today’s money the 1953 coronation cost around £50million but estimates for King Charles’s are twice that because of things like security, which weren’t such a big issue back then,” said the insider. However, this has not been confirmed. “The British government, which picks up the tab, says that information will be published at a later date,” said The Washington Post.
How can I watch the coronation?
The Queen’s coronation was broadcast to an estimated 20 million people, with the ceremony being “the first time cameras were placed inside Westminster Abbey”, said Time Out.
The BBC has announced it will be suspending the licence fee over the coronation weekend, allowing “venues to show coronation coverage on 6 May and the concert on 7 May without needing to pay for a licence”, said the Daily Mirror.
The broadcaster said the dispensation is granted in “exceptional circumstances”, with the event needing to be of “national importance” and shown in a community setting.
However, broadcasting icon David Dimbleby, whose father Richard covered the Queen’s coronation, has turned down an opportunity to play a role in the BBC’s coverage, according to The Times. Instead, coverage will be spearheaded by Kirsty Young in a studio located outside Buckingham Palace, with the help of Huw Edwards and Clare Balding.
Will there be a bank holiday?
There will be an additional bank holiday to mark the coronation on Monday 8 May. As the nation wakes up to an extra day off “members of the public will be invited to take part in The Big Help Out”, said the official website of the royal family. People will be encouraged to spend the day volunteering or doing something to support their local areas.