King Charles will be formally crowned today (Saturday).
The former Prince of Wales ascended the throne in September after his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died September 2022 after serving her country 70 years. She was the longest-serving monarch in British history, making Charles the longest-serving heir apparent.
Although he has been acting as king for a few months already, he will officially be crowned Saturday during the first coronation since Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953.
Here is what to expect on the historic day.
The big day will start with King Charles and Queen Camilla making the procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach. The procession will consist of close to 200 members of the armed forces and other members of the royal family, including the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Princess Royal, and will travel 1.5 miles to the Abbey.
The procession is expected to take around 30 minutes with the king and queen arriving to Westminster Abbey at about 5:53 a.m. EDT.
Once the king and queen arrive at Westminster Abbey, they will enter with the song “I Was Glad,” playing, a tradition that started in 1626. Their entrance will be followed by a greeting with the king and a young member of the choir, who Charles will tell, “I come not to be served but to serve.”
After a silent prayer and a greeting from the archbishop, the coronation will begin.
There are many steps that need to take place before Charles can be crowned, the first of which is the recognition. During this step, Charles will stand next to the Coronation Chair.
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The archbishop will then have him face all four sides of the room and ask onlookers on each side, “Sirs, I here present unto you King Charles, your undoubted King. Wherefore all you who are come this day to do your homage and service, are you willing to do the same?”
Those in attendance will presumably respond with “God save King Charles.”
Following the recognition is the oath, during which Charles will swear to “govern all his nations and territories according to laws and customs, to execute law and justice with mercy, and to maintain the Protestant Reformed Religion and the Church of England.”
To complete his oath, he will have to walk to the altar, put his right hand on the Bible and say, “The things which I have here before promised I will perform and keep. So help me God.”
Following the recitation of his oath, he will kiss the Bible and sign his oath.
Following his oath comes a series of prayers, including the king’s prayer, a specially crafted prayer by the king himself. The king’s prayer is a new addition to the coronation and is the first time such a personal prayer will be shared by the monarch.
After he has taken his oath, comes the anointing, one of the most sacred parts of the coronation ceremony.
During this part of the ceremony, the Archbishop of Canterbury uses the coronation spoon to pour oil on Charles’ hands, chest and head, a tradition that started to prove the new monarch was appointed by God.
Unlike the queen, who was anointed under a canopy, Charles will reportedly be anointed in private, behind a three-sided partition.
The oil for the anointing is made using olives picked from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and perfumed with sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, benzoin, amber and orange blossom.
Once the king has been anointed, he will come out from behind the partition wearing a silk gold cloak for the investiture. At this point, he will be presented with the coronation regalia.
He will first be presented with the spurs, which “symbolize knighthood,” followed by the Sword of Offering; two armills made of gold, known as “bracelets of sincerity and wisdom;” the Coronation Orb, “symbolising the Christian world” with three sides representing the three continents known during medieval times; and the Sovereign’s Ring, representing commitment and is not worn during the ceremony.
Charles will then be presented with the coronation glove, the same one his mother wore during her coronation, representing him as advocate and challenger for the protection of the people. He will then be presented with the sovereign’s sceptre with cross that represents “the sovereign’s temporal power,” and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove, which represents “the sovereign’s spiritual role.”
As he is being crowned, the king will be seated in the Coronation Chair, holding the Sceptre with Cross in his right, gloved hand and the Sceptre with Dove in his left hand. He will be crowned with St. Edward’s Crown, which was created in 1661 and will only be worn during the ceremony.
After the crown has been placed on his head, the bells at Westminster Abbey will ring for two minutes.
Immediately following his crowning, King Charles will be escorted from the Coronation Chair to the throne.
Once the king has made his way to the throne, the Church of England will pay homage to its new sovereign and proclaim him “defender of the faith.”
Traditionally, other members of the royal family would have to pay homage to the new monarch by kneeling at the monarch’s feet, touching the crown and then kissing the monarch on the cheek. Charles, however, has asked that only Prince William pay homage to him during the ceremony. During the homage, he will promise to be his “liege man of life and limb.”
There will then be an homage of the people, when the general public will be given the chance to swear their allegiance to the new king by exclaiming, “God save King Charles. Long live King Charles. May the King live forever.”
Queen Camilla will then go through the same process immediately following King Charles’ ceremony, in a much shorter ceremony.
The queen’s coronation will begin with an anointing, this time done in full view of the audience, both in the abbey and watching at home. She will then be presented with the consort’s ring, which marries her to the sovereign and to her duty to the people.
The queen will then be crowned with Queen Mary’s Crown as she is also presented with the rod and scepter. She will be escorted to her throne as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s coronation anthem, “Make a Joyful Noise,” is sung.
After a series of prayers, Charles and Camilla will travel back to Buckingham Palace in the Gold Coach in a procession known as the coronation procession.
At the front of the procession will be a military brass band and five static bands performing the same song. The king and queen will be last in the procession lineup. The procession will feature over 4,000 military personnel from all over the Commonwealth and British territories.
Once the king and queen return to Buckingham Palace, they will receive the Royal Salute.
They will then be joined by other senior members of the royal family on the balcony of the palace, where they will watch the fly-pass. Dozens of aircraft from all branches of the armed forces fly over London to celebrate the coronation of the new monarch.
Celebrations continue Sunday, beginning with Coronation Big Lunch, a series of street parties across England to celebrate. Later that evening, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Andrea Bocelli and others will take the stage during the coronation concert.
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