Countdown to King Charles III coronation

Mick the Ram

Apr 30, 2023

The coronation of King Charles III is now less than a week away and final preparations are being put in place for everything surrounding the ceremony and subsequent celebrations on 6 May and beyond.

The Westminster Abbey service, in full regalia, will see the crowning of not just the King, but also Camilla as Queen Consort in front of around 2,000 invited guests. Before that there will be a procession from Buckingham Palace past cheering crowds, with the return journey accompanied by the armed forces and representatives from Commonwealth countries and the British Overseas Territories.

There will be gun salutes sounded at the point of the King’s crowning right across the country, including the capital cities of the four home nations. Once back at the Palace, the newly crowned couple will be joined by several members of the royal family to acknowledge the expected huge crowds and witness a spectacular fly-past, culminating in a display by the magnificent Red Arrows.

Nobody does it better

When it comes to formal ceremonies and customs the British certainly know how to put on a show and for a special Royal occasion nobody does it better. Therefore, a real treat is in store for millions who love such splendour, when the coronation takes centre stage. Special screening sites are being set up in three major London parks – Hyde, Green, and St James’s – where tens of thousands are expected, as well as along the route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey.

Air-Conditioned coach

The procession from the Palace to the Abbey will see the royal couple travel in the 3 tonne Diamond Jubilee State Coach, a much more modern creation, with air conditioning and hydraulic suspension that has a crown carved in oak from HMS Victory on its roof. Around 200 members of the armed forces, mostly from the Household Cavalry, will form an escort.

The ceremony

These events are usually timed to perfection so the carriage should arrive shortly before 11.00am, which is when the ceremony is due to begin. There are five specific stages, starting with a tradition that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times, known as “The Recognition” which will see the Archbishop of Canterbury present Charles to the congregation, before administering the “Coronation Oath”.

The King will then sit in the 700-year-old St Edward’s chair which will be placed in the centre of the historic medieval mosaic floor, known as the “Cosmati pavement”. There will follow a process known as “The Anointment”, which is also considered the most sacred part of the service. This involves the Archbishop pouring oil – which has been produced from groves on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem – out of the “Ampulla” (which effectively is a gold flask) on to the Coronation spoon and forming a cross on Charles’ head, chest and hands.

The fourth stage is the “Investiture” and literally speaking, the actual crowning moment, and the only time the King will wear the St Edward’s crown. At the moment it is placed upon his head a 62-round gun salute will be fired at the Tower of London and at 11 further locations around the country that includes Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh there will be 21-rounds fired. Finally, the King will take the throne and the tradition is for homage to be paid to him, although it is unclear at this point whether this custom will continue.

260 year old carriage

A similar process will then be repeated for Camilla, the Queen Consort, with her being crowned with a modified crown, which had originally been made for Queen Mary’s coronation alongside George V. She will then join the King and climb into the Gold State Coach, built all the way back in 1762, made of wood coated in gold leaf. This carriage has been used at every coronation since William IV’s back in 1831.

Largest military ceremonial operation of a generation

Approximately 4,000 members of the UK’s armed forces will then join what the Ministry of Defence has called the largest military ceremonial operation of its kind for a generation; they will be joined by representatives from Commonwealth countries and the British Overseas Territories.

Back at the Palace the newly crowned couple will be joined by what at this stage is believed to be just the “working” royals on the balcony overlooking the Mall, to greet the crowds and be treated to a wonderful public display of flying, with a fly-past involving members of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, before the spectacle is brought to a stunning conclusion by the incredible Red Arrows aerobatic display team.

Caribbean representation

There will be some Caribbean flavour in amongst all the grandeur of the day with participation from Inspector Helmert Mason, who will represent the Royal Anguilla Police Force; plus members of the Royal Montserrat Defence Force (RMDF). The honour of Representing the island has been given to ten individuals including: Lieutenant Colonel Alvin Ryan, Captain Colin Fergus, Private Princess Hixon and Sergeant Deverson Semper.

Who will be there?

There will be plenty of famous faces in attendance, alongside the obvious members of the Royal family. After much controversy and speculation, it was confirmed a few weeks ago that Prince Harry would indeed make the effort to come over from his luxury lifestyle in the United States and pay his father the respect he deserves, but his wife Meghan Markle has decided against joining him.

His brother William and sister-in-law Kate will naturally be there, as will King Charles’ siblings Anne, the Princess Royal, and Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, along with their families. It is believed Prince Andrew will also attend, but that has not yet been 100% confirmed.

Prince George, who is actually now the second-in-line to the throne, will be one of several “Pages of honour”. Three of Camilla’s grandsons, Gus and Louis Lopes, and Freddy Parker Bowles, together with her great-nephew Arthur Elliot, will take the same role, and be part of the procession. She will also have her sister Annabel Elliot and close friend Lady Lansdowne as her “Ladies in Attendance”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and former PM’s Tony Blair and Liz Truss will be there, as will French President Emmanuel Macron; and although US President Joe Biden sent his apologies, he will be represented by First Lady Jill Biden. Other leaders who will be in attendance include: Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif, Ferdinand Marcos from the Philippines, Poland’s Andrzej Duda, and Anthony Albanese from Australia.

Additionally, there will be foreign royalty in the shape of Monaco’s Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia, Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko and Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, who will be accompanied by his daughter Crown Princess Victoria. It is also understood that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will also be there.

There are believed to be community representation numbering nearly 1,000 people, with British Empire Medal (BEM) recipients, charity workers, volunteers, and young people from groups selected specifically by the Royals. With regards to showbiz, the likes of Dame Joanna Lumley is known to have been invited, but little else has leaked out regarding other high-profile individuals from the world of entertainment and sport, but there will inevitably be many there on the day.


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