The anatomy of a coronation: A guide to the crowning of King Charles III

According to Buckingham Palace, this year’s events ‘will reflect the Monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry’

May 03, 2023 05:16 pm | Updated May 04, 2023 06:52 pm IST - London

The coronation of Britain’s King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will take place at 12 p.m. (London time) on Saturday, May 6, at Westminster Abbey.

The coronation of Britain’s King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will take place at 12 p.m. (London time) on Saturday, May 6, at Westminster Abbey. | Photo Credit: AP

What is the coronation schedule?

The coronation of Britain’s King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will take place at noon (London time) on Saturday, May 6, at Westminster Abbey, where coronations have taken place for around 900 years.

Prior to this, the King and Queen Consort will undertake a procession from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey for the ceremonies, which are scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. and will be officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The event is expected to conclude at 1 p.m., following which the royal family will watch a fly past from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

There will be a concert at Windsor Castle on Sunday evening featuring Katie Perry, Take That, Andre Bocelli, Lionel Richie and others.

The weekend’s events include community lunches on Sunday and volunteer mobilisation activities on Monday – to reflect the King’s long running association with community and volunteering activities.

How does this British coronation compare to previous ones?

Apart from the coronation reflecting the individual preferences of the monarch, this year’s events “will reflect the Monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry”, according to Buckingham Palace.

Also read | King Charles III’s coronation: Details revealed about coronation service

For instance, at least one of the six coronation ‘vestments’ will be recycled from George VI’s coronation “in the interests of sustainability and efficiency” Buckingham Palace said. Several of the chairs used during the ceremonies will also be restored and reused – such as the Chairs of Estate, which were made in 1953 and used during Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

There will also be traditions dating back hundreds of years. The throne that will be used for the ceremony was built over 700 years ago and used first by Edward the Confessor (whose reign ended in 1066). It sits over a 152 kg stone – the Stone of Scone or the Stone of Destiny, which has been used by Scottish rulers for centuries and was seized by Edward I of England in 1296 (the English and Scottish crowns were unified in 1603). Former U.K. Prime Minister John Major returned the stone to Scotland 700 years later, in 1996, and it was brought back to Westminster Abby last week for the May 6 ceremonies.

In a departure from tradition, Camilla will not wear the Platinum Crown which has the Koh-i-Noordiamond embedded in it. The crown was set aside, reportedly following concerns that wearing the diamond could cause offence, especially in India, from where the East India Company took it.

File photo of the Gold State Coach being led in a procession as it leaves Westminster Abbey in central London on May 3, 2023, during a rehearsal for the Coronation of King Charles III.

File photo of the Gold State Coach being led in a procession as it leaves Westminster Abbey in central London on May 3, 2023, during a rehearsal for the Coronation of King Charles III. | Photo Credit: AP

The religious landscape of Britain is vastly different today than it was when Charles’s mother ascended the throne in 1953. To reflect this, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Buddhist leaders will present the King with coronation regalia and also greet him following the coronation.

The British monarch is styled ‘Defender of the Faith’ – i.e., the Protestant faith espoused by the Church of England. In the 1990s, the King, then Prince Charles, had said, controversially, that he would be a ‘Defender of Faith’ rather than ‘Defender of the Faith’ to reflect the changed religious landscape of the country. The preamble to his oath on Saturday will have a reference to the King fostering “an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely”.

During the coronation, the public will be invited to swear allegiance to the King and “his heirs and successors”. This is also a new element to the coronation. While some (such as Members of the U.K. parliament) have come out in support of this, others have objected.

“In a democracy, it is the head of state who should be swearing allegiance to the people, not the other way around. This kind of nonsense should have died with Elizabeth I, not outlived Elizabeth II,” said Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, a group that is campaigning to make the U.K. a Republic.

Who is attending the coronation?

India will be represented by Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar. The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was attended by President Droupadi Murmu and the last coronation, six years after India’s independence, was attended by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The United States will be represented by First Lady Jill Biden – President Joe Biden will not attend, sticking to the tradition of American presidents skipping the crowning of a British monarch. French President Macron is also on the list as are the heads of government of the commonwealth ‘realms’ - such as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia. European and world royalty will also be in attendance – including the King and Queen of Bhutan, the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan and the Maori King and Queen.

The King’s daughter-in-law, Meghan Markle, will be conspicuous by her absence. The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California while her husband, Prince Harry, will attend his father’s coronation, months after publishing a revealing memoir, Spare, which further strained his and Ms Markle’s relationship with the King and the heir to the throne, Prince William.

Who pays for the coronation?

The U.K. Government, i.e., U.K. taxpayers, will foot the bill for the coronation which is estimated to be £100 million ($125 million). In 1953, the British Government spent £1.57 million or £46 million in today’s terms on the late Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, according to an analysis in The Times.

Britain’s Princess Anne, as Colonel of The Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons), sits for a group photo with Officers and senior Non-Commissioned Officers of The Household Division during her visit to Wellington Barracks on May 3, 2023, ahead of the coronation.

Britain’s Princess Anne, as Colonel of The Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons), sits for a group photo with Officers and senior Non-Commissioned Officers of The Household Division during her visit to Wellington Barracks on May 3, 2023, ahead of the coronation. | Photo Credit: AP

Is the monarchy popular?

A significant majority of Britons think that the U.K. should continue to have a monarchy. An April 26-27 YouGov poll showed that 60% of adults were in support of the institution continuing, while 26% said the country should have an elected head of state ( 15% were in the “don’t know” category). Support for the monarchy was the highest in England and then Wales. Only 42% of Scottish people surveyed thought the monarchy should continue, with 46% preferring an elected head of state.

Support for the monarchy was the lowest in the 18-24 age group (32% support it while 44% want an elected head of state) and higher in older groups. It was also higher among those who voted to leave the European Union and those who voted for the Conservative Party in the 2019 general election, and slightly higher among women.

Approval ratings for members of the royal family have dropped since the publication of Prince Harry’s memoir. These ratings had risen around the death of Queen Elizabeth in September last year. 51% of adults think that King Charles will do a good job as monarch, according to March data from Ipsos.

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