King Charles III stood proudly on the balcony of Buckingham Palace wearing the Imperial State Crown, alongside his Queen Camilla. There they acknowledged the cheering crowd, gathered in their thousands, in front and all the way down the Mall, just a few hours after his coronation ceremony had taken place at Westminster Abbey.
Unfortunately due to the adverse weather, a planned fly-past by as many as 68 aircraft, which was to have been seven minutes long, had to be severely curtailed on safety grounds. The very low cloud meant only a small number of helicopters were able to take part, although the stars of the show – the Red Arrows Display Team did perform as scheduled, as their extreme training allows them to fly in the even the worst of weather conditions.
The ceremony itself had gone perfectly to plan, with the typical pomp and splendour that the British are renowned for. The newly crowned couple arrived back at the Palace in the 260-year-old, magnificent looking, gilded Gold State Coach, which requires eight horses to pull it, and has been used at every coronation since that of William IV way back in 1831.
As they left the Abbey, the bells rung and a wonderful procession involving almost 4,000 armed forces personnel led them back to the Buckingham Palace, marching impeccably in step with each other, in what has been described as the largest major military ceremonial operation of its kind for a generation.
As was predicted, there were some anti-monarchist protestors out and about, and police reported that several arrests were made ahead of proceedings.
Months of planning ahead of ceremony
Prince Charles automatically became King of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms in September 2022, when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II sadly passed away, after a remarkable 70 years on the throne.
Since then months of careful planning has gone on, all aimed at making this ceremony go like clockwork. It is in actual fact the 40th to take place at Westminster Abbey since 1066. Back in 1953, when the Elizabeth was officially crowned Queen, TV coverage was still in its infancy – although it did amazingly have 3D newsreel – this ceremony however, will have had a global audience in the hundreds of millions.
Worn just the once
The service was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, assisted by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell. Charles looked a little nervous throughout the ceremony, especially during the crowning moment when the incredibly heavy St Edward’s Crown was placed upon his head.
This was actually made for King Charles II in the 17th Century and is only worn when the monarch is crowned, meaning that fortunately, the new King will never have to bear the weight again.
Service is the theme
A far more modest process also saw Camilla crowned Queen, which followed several oaths, prayers and sermons, all faultlessly delivered.
The Archbishop had begun by stating: “We are here to crown a King, and we crown a King to serve. The King of Kings, Jesus Christ, was anointed not to be served, but to serve; he creates the unchangeable law that with the privilege of power comes the duty to serve.” Charles responded by saying: “I come not to be served, but to serve.”
The congregation of some 2,300 people was then asked to show their homage and there was a loud response of: “God Save the King”, resonating around the Abbey. In the most sacred part of the service, the King was shielded from public view by anointing screens while choristers sang Handel’s Zadok the Priest, which has been performed at every coronation since 1727.
Synchronised to perfection
With astonishing precision, the procession back to the Palace was something to behold. The marching was synchronised spectacularly and had the crowd cheering them all the way back along the route, with the King and Queen following behind in their stunning carriage.
The Prince and Princess of Wales accompanied by their three children were in a simpler coach travelling behind them, and following that was a third carriage in which the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and their two children were driven.
Harry’s fleeting visit
Prince Harry did show up, arriving in a smart morning suit in the company of Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princesses: Beatrice and Eugenie, both of whom he is known to be very close to. He arrived on a commercial flight just yesterday (5 May) and at the conclusion of the service in the Abbey he was seen jumping into the back of a BMW, this time all alone.
It remained unclear of his intentions, but most suspect he would be heading straight to the airport for an immediate return to the US to hopefully catch the end of his son Archie’s fourth birthday celebrations.
Protestors swiftly removed
There had been protests from the anti-monarchist campaign group “Republic”, but police quickly moved in and several arrests were made, including that of their head of operations, Graham Smith. There were over 11,000 Metropolitan Police Officers on duty, so the likelihood of any major disruption was always likely to end in failure.
Twice as good
The masses who had waited in the pouring rain, waved and cheered the royals all the way back to Buckingham Palace and were treated to an encore on the balcony when, after appearing with the Pages of Honour, the Ladies of Attendance and the working royals, Charles and Camilla came out a second time to acknowledge the crowds and looked genuinely thrilled at the turn out for their special day.