The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla: What to Expect
The coronations of King Charles III and Queen Camilla will take place in Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6 May 2023.
The coronation is the last major event in the process of formalising the reign of the new monarch.
The rite of coronation is, at its heart, a religious ceremony heavy with symbolism. It has changed little in a thousand years.
Official statements have emphasised that the coronation and subsequent celebrations will retain tradition and pageantry but reflect the modern role of the Monarch and look towards the future.
In accordance with tradition, the Archbishop of Canterbury will preside at the coronation ceremony, which is expected to take about two hours.
The King and Queen will be ‘attended’ throughout the ceremony by younger members of their families, including Prince George, and children of close family friends.
The Royal couple will travel from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the traditional King’s Procession, riding in an Australian-made coach.
On the return journey they will ride in State Coach, made of gilt wood in 1762. The coach is seven metres long, weighs four tonnes, travels at no faster than walking pace, is not very comfortable, and has been used in every coronation since 1831!
When the King and Queen arrive at Westminster Abbey, the service will commence with the presentation of the new Monarch to the congregation as their ‘undoubted King’, followed by the acclamation: God Save the King!
The King will then take the Coronation Oath, undertaking to govern the United Kingdom and his other realms and territories ‘according to their respective laws and customs’, to observe law, justice and mercy in his judgements, and to preserve the doctrine and worship of the Church of England.
King Charles will move to the 700-year-old King Edward’s Chair where he will be anointed three times with holy oil prepared by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and consecrated in March 2023. This is considered the most sacred part of the ceremony.
The oil was made from olives from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and scented with essential oils including those of roses, cinnamon, orange blossom, and jasmine. Ambergris, sourced from whales, is a traditional ingredient but won’t have been used as the King has stipulated no animal products in the oil.
During the anointing, the King is ‘hidden’ from view by a gold canopy held up by attendants.
The King will then be invested – presented – with the symbols of office. They include the orb symbolising power granted by God, the sceptre representing worldly power, and a gold rod with an enamel dove at the top, representing mercy and justice. All three are normally held in the Crown Jewels collection.
Only after the King has been anointed can the Archbishop of Canterbury proceed with the high point of the ceremony – the placing of the 2.25-kilogram solid gold St Edward’s Crown on the King’s head. The crown was made in 1661 for the coronation of King Charles II.
There follows the enthronement, when the King will move from King Edward’s chair to a temporary throne specially set up in the Abbey.
Traditionally, homage would then be paid individually to the King by a significant number of people, each one kneeling before him and pledging allegiance. However, it is speculated that this part of the ceremony will be shortened, possibly by having Prince William pay homage to his father on behalf of others.
In accordance with the wishes of the late Queen, and consistent with precedent, Queen Camilla will be crowned alongside the King in a similar though less elaborate ceremony.
After the ceremony, the King and Queen and other members of the Royal Family will return to Buckingham Palace in the Coronation Procession, which will be larger than the King’s Procession to the Abbey.
The route will be shorter than the 7-kilometre course taken by the Queen’s coronation procession in 1953.
Some time later the coronation festivities will conclude with the now traditional appearance of the Royal Family on the Palace balcony.
The official invitation uses this title and the King has made clear that the word ‘Consort’ will be dropped from now on, which is consistent with precedents.
(Photos courtesy of The Royal Household)