Spectacle fit for a King: A guide to the Coronation as 300 million are set to watch Charles crowned
The eyes of the world will be on London this weekend for the Coronation of King Charles. Hundreds of thousands of people will line the streets of the capital on Saturday while the global television audience has been estimated at 300 million.
Westminster Abbey will take centre stage with Charles set to be the 40th monarch crowned there since 1066. There will be 7,000 ceremonial troops taking part — the most seen at any state occasion since the late Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953. The formal events begin on Saturday with a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. Viewing areas along the route open at 6am.
Those on the guest list of 2,000 will start arriving at the abbey from 7.15am. Among the celebrities invited are Ant and Dec, magician Dynamo, Repair Shop presenter Jay Blades and singer Lionel Richie. Heads of state, government ministers and former prime ministers, foreign royals and other members of the royal family will take their places from 9.30am to 10.45am.
10.20 King heads to abbey
King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will travel from the palace to the abbey in the modern Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Called the King’s Procession, it will feature around 200 members of the sovereign’s escort of the Household Cavalry with troops from the three services lining the route. It will move along The Mall to Trafalgar Square, then down Whitehall and Parliament Street before turning into Parliament Square and Broad Sanctuary to reach the Great West Door of the abbey for the start of the service at 11am.
Charles and Camilla will enter to the sound of Hubert Parry’s anthem I Was Glad. Composed for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902, it features the cry “Vivat Rex!” (Long Live the King!) which will be proclaimed by scholars from Westminster School.
The service will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, with Buckingham Palace saying it will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while remaining rooted in traditions and pageantry.
Charles will wear military uniform instead of the more traditional breeches and silk stockings worn by kings before him. The service will feature music selected by him, with 12 newly-commissioned pieces including one by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Greek Orthodox music in memory of Charles’s father, Prince Philip. Nine-year-old Prince George will become the youngest future king to play an official role at a coronation after being named one of his grandfather’s four pages of honour.
There are several stages to the service — the recognition, the oath, anointing, the investiture and the enthronement.
For the recognition, Charles will be presented to “the people”. Standing beside the 700-year-old Coronation Chair, he will turn to face the four sides of the abbey and be proclaimed the “undoubted King” before the congregation is asked to show their homage and service.
The Coronation Oath will then be administered, with Charles asked to confirm that he will uphold the law and the Church of England during his reign. He will also take the Accession Declaration Oath — stating that he is a “faithful Protestant”. For the anointing, the archbishop will pour special oil from the ampulla — a gold flask — on to the coronation spoon before anointing the King with a cross on his head, chest and hands.
Unlike his late mother’s 1953 coronation, Charles will be anointed out of sight, behind a three-sided screen, rather than just a canopy.
The investiture, when Charles is officially crowned, takes place at midday. He will be given an embroidered golden coat to wear called the Supertunica and be presented with items including the Sovereign’s Orb, the Coronation Ring, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove.
Then the archbishop will place St Edward’s Crown on the King’s head — the signal for the abbey bells to ring for two minutes, trumpets to sound and gun salutes to be fired across the UK.
The final part of the ceremony — the enthronement — will see the King take the throne. Traditionally, a succession of royals and peers would then have paid homage by kneeling before the new monarch, swearing allegiance and kissing his right hand. For the first time the archbishop will invite those in the abbey, and those watching at home, to pledge allegiance to the new King — although Buckingham Palace has been at pains to stress this is an invitation, not an order.
Queen Camilla will then be anointed, crowned with Queen Mary’s Crown and enthroned in a simpler ceremony. Originally made for Queen Mary’s coronation alongside George V, the crown has been modified to remove some of the arches and reset with the Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds.
1pm Service ends
The ceremony will finish at 1pm when the King and Queen will begin their coronation procession back to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach. Some 4,000 military personnel from across the UK and the Commonwealth will accompany the royal couple on their return procession with Anne, The Princess Royal, on horseback behind the coach.
The journey, which is expected to take a little over 30 minutes, will be the reverse of the King and Queen’s procession to the abbey but a much grander affair, with 1,000 personnel from the Army, RAF and Royal Navy flanking the route. The procession will stretch to 1.3 miles — about a quarter of the length of Queen Elizabeth’s five-mile return pageant around central London in 1953 which saw the 27-year-old monarch waving to crowds.
1.45 Garden salute
At 1.45pm Charles and Camilla will receive a royal salute from 4,000 troops in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
Then, at about 2.15pm, the King, Queen and members of the royal family are expected to appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch a flypast, weather permitting.
The Coronation will mark the first time that Prince Harry has been seen in public with his family since his memoir, Spare, was published at the start of this year.
It is not clear if Harry will appear on the balcony. However, his wife the Duchess of Sussex will not be at the Coronation, having decided to remain at home in Los Angeles to be with the couple’s son, Prince Archie, on his fourth birthday.
The Order of Service at Westminster Abbey
The service begins with the procession into Westminster Abbey of faith leaders and representatives of faith communities, ecumenical leaders, realms and the choir, followed by the King and the Queen Consort.
Fourteen-year-old Chapel Royal chorister Samuel Strachan, one of the youngest members of the congregation, welcomes the King.
Paul Mealor’s composition — Coronation Kyrie — is sung, becoming the first Welsh language performance at a coronation.
Welcome by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Charles stands in the theatre — the central space in Westminster Abbey — and turns to show himself to the people at each of the four directions: east, south, west and north.
The Archbishop makes the first declaration towards the high altar. In a change, the declaration at the other three directions is carried out by others: Lady Angiolini, Baroness Amos and George Cross Holder Christopher Finney.
The specially commissioned red leather-bound bible is presented to the King by the moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland.
In a preface, the Archbishop says the Church of England “will seek to foster an environment where people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely”.
The King places his hand on the bible as the Archbishop takes him through the oath. The Anthem, Prevent Us, O Lord by William Byrd, is sung.
THE KING’S PRAYER
Charles III becomes the first monarch to pray aloud in front of a coronation congregation, before the Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd is sung.
The collect is read by the Archbishop, followed by a reading by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of The Epistle — Colossians 1: 9-17.
The first of a two-part composition, Alleluia, from award-winning TV and film composer Debbie Wiseman.
The Dean of HM Chapels Royal, Dame Sarah Mullally, reads Luke 4:16-21.
The second part of Alleluia is sung before the Archbishop delivers a sermon.
The hymn Veni Creator is sung in English, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic.
The Archbishop is presented with the Coronation Oil.
The anointing with holy oil — the central act of the religious ceremony — takes place in private, behind an annointing screen. Using his fingers, the Archbishop anoints the King on his hands, breast, and head.
The King kneels on a faldstool in front of the high altar and the Archbishop continues
with the Oil of Gladness prayer of blessing.
THE INVESTITURE AND CROWNING
The King is presented with the coronation regalia.
The Greek Choir sings Psalm 71 in tribute to the Greek heritage of the King’s father, Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh.
A jewelled sword is blessed by the Archbishop and presented to the King by Lord President of the Council Penny Mourdaunt.
The Armills are presented to the King by Lord Kamall.
The stole royal — a golden priestly scarf — and the robe royal — a long cloak — are brought to the King.
The Bishop of Durham puts the stole royal over the King’s shoulders.
Baroness Merron, who served as the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ chief executive, and bishops clothe the King in the robe royal.
The Archibishop of Canterbury places the Sovereign’s Orb in the King’s right hand before the Coronation Ring and Glove are presented to the monarch.
The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and Rod with Dove are passed to the King.
The Dean of Westminster brings The Crown of St Edward to The Archbishop, who says the prayer of blessing.
The Archbishop brings the crown down onto the King’s head and proclaims: “God save The King!”
The congregation responds: “God save The King!”
The Abbey bells ring for two minutes.
The King is enthroned in a moment that traditionally represents the monarch taking possession of his kingdom.
The Archbishop of Canterbury and Prince William pay homage to His Majesty, before the public are invited to swear allegience.
Camilla is annointed and crowned with the coronation crown of Queen Mary.