LONDON, May 6. /TASS/. His Majesty Charles III, the king of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, is set to be crowned at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday.
It will be the first anointing of a British sovereign in 70 years. The last coronation was held for Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) when the current ruler was 4 years old.
The Prince of Wales became king immediately upon the death of his mother on September 8 last year. He soon thereafter adopted the name of Charles III and was enthroned, while the coronation was traditionally pushed back a few months. Both these services are tributes to tradition, formalities that don’t change Charles III’s status. However, the coronation ceremony, which will be attended by more than 2,000 guests, has a great symbolic and religious significance. It cements his role as the head of the Church of England, maintains a custom that’s more than 1,000 years old and serves as an occasion for a spectacular celebration drawing attention from all around the world.
Two coaches for 4-kilometer route
The ceremony is scheduled to start at 10:20 am, with a coach carrying His Majesty and Queen Consort Camila traveling through a ceremonial gate of Buckingham Palace. The King and Queen will use the coach that was built for Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee and will be accompanied by the Sovereign's Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
The procession will include more than 200 cavalrymen and 48 musicians from the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery. During the procession, which is about two kilometers long, British military personnel from different branches of the armed forces, including Grenadier Guards in red uniforms and tall fur hats, will line the streets every five steps.
After the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey, where 39 monarchs had been crowned since 1066, the royal couple will return to Buckingham Palace along the same route. The procession will be accompanied by 4,000 military personnel, including members of 19 military bands.
King Charles III and Queen Camilla will return to Buckingham Palace in a different coach, a gilded carriage made in 1762. It’s the same coach that Queen Elizabeth II rode in for her coronation in 1953, later complaining about its comfort. The King and the Queen (whose title will then drop the word "consort") will need to endure the ride for a much shorter time than Queen Elizabeth II, as the procession will be just one-quarter of the length it was 70 years ago.
Naval uniform without stockings
The coronation ceremony inside the Abbey will also be shorter, lasting only two hours. The King will arrive at Westminster Abbey in the uniform of an admiral of the Royal Navy, but without 17th-century-style silk stockings with breeches that his grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather - King George VI (1936-1952), King George V (1865-1936), and King Edward VII (1841-1910) - wore during their coronations.
The coronation service, which will be led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, will include several new features. For example, for the first time prayers will be said in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, and Irish Gaelic. The homage of peers, a staple of coronation ceremonies, will be scrapped. Prince William, the heir to the throne, will kneel before his father and swear allegiance to him, which will be followed by the homage of the people - with the guests of the coronation and British television viewers invited to pledge their allegiance to King Charles III.
No cameras for anointing
King Charles III will change several outfits and sit on several thrones during his coronation, including the ceremonial wooden throne of King Edward, which has a special recess for the Stone of Scone - a symbol of the kings of Scotland and a relic of the Scottish people. The coronation will be broadcast live, except for one rite: the anointing of King Charles III with holy oil.
During the final part of the ceremony, the King will first wear the St. Edward's Crown, which weighs 2.2 kg and is adorned with over 400 precious stones. This crown is kept in the Tower of London. After wearing the St. Edward's Crown, the King will switch to the lighter but even more richly decorated Imperial State Crown, which has over 3,000 precious stones, including the Black Prince's ruby and the Cullinan II diamond - part of the largest diamond ever found.
Who is invited and not invited
The guests of the coronation ceremony will include members of the royal family, around 100 heads of state, prime ministers of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, governors-general of Commonwealth countries, representatives of various churches, armed forces, diplomatic corps, Nobel laureates, employees of public and charity organizations, and emergency services. In contrast to tradition, representatives of foreign royal families have been invited to London. However, some royal houses, such as Denmark, Norway, and Japan, will not be represented by their heads due to various reasons.
London did not invite heads of state from Afghanistan, Belarus, Venezuela, Iran, Myanmar, Russia, and Syria to the coronation ceremony. With respect to North Korea and Nicaragua, invitations have been made out to high-ranking diplomats. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be present at the coronation, while the US will be represented by First Lady Jill Biden.
Bread and circuses
The coronation ceremony will end with a gun salute and an air show, with dozens of planes from different eras flying over Buckingham Palace. The crowned monarch and the royal family will gather at the palace’s balcony to watch the flypast.
Public festivities will last three days, including Monday, which has been made a holiday. People are expected to have more than 3,000 street parties and drink 62 million pints of beer. The number of foreign tourists in London during the festivities may reach 100,000, almost double the usual number for early May. According to estimates by British railway companies, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the kingdom will flock to London in the run-up to the coronation, and a total of 1.2 million people will gather on the city's streets to witness the historic event.
What does it cost?
According to The Times, the coronation will cost British taxpayers more than the anointing of Queen Elizabeth II. The newspaper estimated the expenses will reach 100 million pounds ($124 million), compared with 1.5 million pounds spent in 1953 ($63 million in today's money). However, the cost of the latest coronation makes up a mere 0.004% of the kingdom's GDP, while retailers, hotels, and restaurants in London alone are expected to rake in 450 million pounds ($567 million) in additional revenue.
The coronation is taking place as the popularity of King Charles III is growing. According to a recent YouGov poll, 62% of UK residents believe that his reign will have a positive impact on the monarchy, while only 54% of those surveyed thought so in March of last year, when Elizabeth II was still reigning. About 31% said at the time that Charles III would be a bad king, compared with 20% now. The poll also showed that 60% of the country's residents are in favor of keeping the monarchy, while 26% would prefer to see an elected leader at the helm of the country.