The coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla is this weekend! “The Coronation will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement earlier this year.
What are those longstanding traditions? What pageantry can we expect? As we gear up for the historic event, here’s T&C‘s comprehensive guide of everything you need to know about King Charles’s coronation.
What even is a coronation?
A coronation is defined, simply, as “the act or occasion of crowning.” It’s a symbolic religious ceremony when the crown is physically placed on the monarch’s head. In the United Kingdom, the BBC notes, the coronation formalizes “the monarch’s role as the head of the Church of England and marks the transfer of their title and powers.”
So even though King Charles III acceded to the throne immediately upon the passing of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, this will be the official moment he is crowned king.
When is the coronation?
The coronation of King Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, will take place on May 6, 2023. Buckingham Palace shared the invite to the coronation, which is full of hidden symbolism:
What time is the coronation?
The Palace confirmed in April that the service will began at 11 a.m local time (6 a.m. eastern time, 3 a.m. pacific time).
Where will the coronation happen?
The coronation service will take place at Westminster Abbey.
Ahead of the service, Charles and Camilla will process from Buckingham Palace, traveling in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach down the Mall, through Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall and along Parliament Street to Westminster Abbey. (You can see a map here.)
After the coronation ceremony, the King and Queen will return to Buckingham Palace in a bigger procession, this time in the Gold State Coach, and accompanied by other royals including the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children. They will reverse the route they took to the Abbey. Following, they will appear on the balcony.
What happens during the service?
At the Abbey, the coronation procession will be led by the Cross of Wales, which will include fragments of a relic known as the “True Cross.” Pope Francis gifted the fragments to King Charles as a coronation gift.
The service is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and there are six key elements that will definitely take place. (You can see the entire liturgy here.)
- The recognition: At the start of the service, King Charles will stand beside the Coronation Chair as the Archbishop of Canterbury presents him to the congregants. The congregation will shout “God Save King Charles!” (The Coronation Chair is an oak chair that is “extremely fragile,” as it is 700 years old.)
- The oath: King Charles will swear to uphold the Church of England and the law. The Archbishop of Canterbury will ask him four questions, to which Charles will reply in the affirmativel He will end with, “I Charles do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare that I am a faithful Protestant and that I will, according to the true intent of the enactments which secure the Protestant succession to the Throne, uphold and maintain the said enactments to the best of my powers according to law.”
- The anointing: King Charles will remove his ceremonial robe, and sit in the Coronation Chair, and then the Archbishop of Canterbury will anoint him with holy oil. The Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem consecrated the oil at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre earlier this year. At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, the anointing was not filmed; at Charles’s coronation, the anointing again will be a private moment.
- The investiture and the crowning: King Charles will be presented with two sceptres and an Orb. One sceptre, The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove, represents his spiritual role, and the other, The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, represents his temporal power and good governance. The orb represents “religious and moral authority.” A coronation ring will also be placed on Charles’s right hand. After being presented with all his regalia, the Archbishop places St. Edwards’s Crown on King Charles’s head.
- The enthroning: After being presented with the regalia, the Archbishop will say, “Stand firm, and hold fast from henceforth this seat of royal dignity, which is yours by the authority of Almighty God. May that same God, whose throne endures for ever, establish your throne in righteousness, that it may stand fast for evermore.”
- The homage: Historically, royal blood princes, the Archbishop, and other senior peers kneel to pay homage and swear allegiance to the monarch. At Charles’s coronation, it will begin with an homage of the Church, then the homage of royal blood (performed by his son, Prince William), then the homage of the people (where whoever wants to can participate). After Charles is crowned and receives homage, Camilla will also be anointed and crowned as Queen Consort.
During the service, there will be twelve new compositions performed, including music by Judith Weir, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Patrick Doyle. Performers at the service include the Coronation Orchestra, the royal harpist Alis Huws, the Westminster Abbey Choir, the Ascension Choir, and more.
What crown will King Charles wear?
King Charles will be crowned with the St Edward’s Crown from the 17th century. The crown weighs nearly 5 pounds, and it has a solid gold frame and 444 stones.
“The crown was commissioned from the Royal Goldsmith, Robert Vyner, in 1661,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. “Although it is not an exact replica of the medieval design, it follows the original in having four crosses-pattée and four fleurs-de-lis, and two arches. It is made up of a solid gold frame set with rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnet, topazes and tourmalines.”
Will Queen Camilla wear a crown?
Yes, she will wear an edited version of Queen Mary’s 1911 coronation crown.
Will Kate Middleton wear a tiara?
It’s unclear whether or not King Charles’s daughter-in-law, Catherine, the Princess of Wales, will wear a tiara to the event—but here are some of the potential tiaras she could wear to the coronation.
Who will be in attendance?
The Abbey will be at full capacity, so we can expect around 2,000 guests. In addition to the British royal family, we can expect Camilla’s family, including her children, grandchildren, and other close family members. Foreign royals will be in attendance, as are representatives from the Commonwealth and charities that Charles and Camilla support. 450 British Empire Medal recipients will be in attendance, too.
Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend?
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex were invited, but only Prince Harry will attend. Meghan will stay in California with their children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.
Who else will participate in the coronation?
There will be eight pages of honor at the coronation—four for King Charles and four for Queen Camilla. Charles’s pages are his grandson Prince George, along with Oliver Cholmondeley, Nicholas Barclay, and Ralph Tollemache. Camilla’s pages are her three grandsons—twins Gus and Louis Lopes, and Freddy Parker Bowles—and her grand-nephew, Arthur Elliot.
Queen Camilla will have two Ladies in Attendance at the coronation: her sister Annabel Elliot and her close friend Lady Lansdowne (who is one of her six “Queen’s Companions).
Princess Anne will serve as Gold-Stick-in-Waiting, a bodyguard in the Royal Household, during the Coronation procession. She will follow on horseback behind Charles and Camilla in the procession from the Abbey to Buckingham Palace.
Who pays for the coronation?
The UK government will pay for the coronation, as it is a state occasion. Per the BBC, “While it is likely to come under pressure to show sensitivity during the current cost-of-living crisis, the government is expected to use the ceremony as an important diplomatic opportunity to present the UK to the world.”
Where can I watch the coronation?
The coronation ceremony will be livestreamed, and will be broadcast on national channels like ABC, NBC and CNN.