The Coronation of King Charles III is now less than two months away and more details are being released regarding the service itself and the accompanying events planned over the three days, one of which has been revealed will be a composition by composer and theatrical producer Andrew Lloyd Webber. There has already been notification of a weekend of celebrations between the 6-8 May, with all the plans under the umbrella of the code-name: Operation Golden Globe.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has granted pubs and clubs extended licensing hours to enable the general public to celebrate longer, with an additional bank holiday being granted to prolong people’s enjoyment.
The Westminster Abbey event which will follow a modest procession, will also see the Queen Consort crowned and it has been confirmed that the controversial diamond the Koh-i-Noor will not be used during the ceremony. Also, a new sacred oil has been especially prepared to be used in the anointment of the royal couple.
Another recent announcement has disclosed that the medieval chair that has been used in the coronation of monarchs of the past, is currently undergoing conservation work to ensure it is fit for a king.
A more modern ceremony likely
The British coronation is the only remaining ceremony of its kind in Europe, and although much of the past traditions will still be respected, Buckingham Palace has said it will also have reflections of what the monarch sees as his role in today’s society. It will definitely be much shorter and less fussy, with around 75% less people in attendance compared to that of Queen Elizabeth II, back in 1953.
Special anthem written by Lloyd-Webber
The King has chosen his own music for the ceremony, which will feature 12 newly-commissioned pieces, including six for the orchestra, five choral works, and a final composition for the organ. Amongst them is an anthem written by Lord Lloyd-Webber which he said he had created to represent a “joyful occasion”. It is based on biblical text which begins: “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvellous things”.
The other composers chosen by the King to write new music are Iain Farrington, Sarah Class, Nigel Hess, Paul Mealor, Tarik O’Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley J. Thompson, Judith Weir, Roderick Williams and Debbie Wiseman. A gospel choir is set to perform, alongside choristers from Westminster School.
Part of the service will be sung in Welsh, and there will be Greek Orthodox music in memory of the King’s father, Prince Philip, who was born in Greece. With tradition in mind there will be pieces from classical composers such as William Byrd, George Handel and Sir Edward Elgar.
17th century crown
Charles will be crowned with the solid gold 17th Century St Edward’s Crown. It is incredibly heavy and in truth totally impractical, so can really only be used at the moment of coronation.
Medieval chair gets some special attention
The service begins with him standing beside the Coronation Chair in what is referred to as the recognition. The medieval chair is currently being subjected to intense conservation work, in readiness for the big day. The painstaking preservation of the 700-year-old oak chair is necessary as it was in what was described as an “extremely fragile” state, by the experts tasked with carrying out the work.
This historic piece of furniture will be at the heart of the ceremony as it has been for centuries and required deep cleaning, as well as the stabilising of layers of gilding. It was created on behalf of Edward I, who reigned from 1272 to 1307, and as conservator Krista Blessley pointed out, it is the “oldest surviving piece of furniture still used for its original purpose.” She went on to remark how proud she is to be working on such an “exquisite example of medieval craftsmanship.”
Sacred holy oil created
Once Charles has sworn the oath to uphold the law and the Church of England, it turns to the anointing part of the ceremony. For this he removes his robe and his hands, breast, and head will receive a small application of holy oil. This is regarded as sacred and a new quantity has been prepared especially for this ceremony, and with an appreciation of modern animal-friendly sensitivities, this oil will not include any ingredients that are derived from animals.
Chrism oil, also known as myrrh, is known to have been created using olives from groves at the Mount of Olives, and scented with a mix of essential oils, sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, and benzoin, with orange blossom also added.
Diplomatic row avoided
There then follows the investiture, enthronement and finally homage, before the King makes way for the Queen Consort to be anointed in the same way and then crowned. There has been some controversy regarding this and a potential diplomatic row has been avoided by the decision taken not to wear the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which is part of the Queen Mother’s coronation crown.
It is one of the largest-cut diamonds in the world, but its ownership has long been disputed with India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran all making claims to it.
Most historians agree that it was taken from India by Nader Shah, an Iranian ruler, in 1739 and then through what is described as “plunder and conquest” it changed hands several times before being signed over to a British governor-general in 1849, following the annexation of the Punjab.
It was re-cut by Prince Albert to be set in a brooch for Queen Victoria, before eventually being incorporated into the Crown Jewels.
Recycled crown to be used by Camilla
Camilla will instead be crowned with Queen Mary’s Crown, which has been taken out of the Tower of London to be resized ahead of the ceremony. This is believed to be the first time in recent history that an existing crown will be “recycled” for such an occasion. Some diamonds from the jewellery collection of the late Queen Elizabeth II will be added.
Let the celebrations begin
Once the serious business has been taken care of, then the rest of the weekend is planned to be one of great celebration. There will be a concert at Windsor Castle with many top celebrities promised as headline acts. There is also a laser light show scheduled for the late evening, plus the entire country are being encouraged to throw street parties.
On the Bank Holiday Monday there is hope that people will get involved in local volunteering in their own communities, in what is being called the Big Help Out initiative.
Logo in bloom
Any official events that take place will be publicised under the Coronation logo which has been created by former Apple designer Jonny Ive, and features a rose, a thistle, a daffodil and a shamrock, which of course are the emblems of the four United Kingdom nations.
One for the road
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has given her blessing to an extension in licensing hours for venues across the country from Friday 5 May to Sunday 7 May, explaining that it will be: “a momentous occasion deserving of special celebration, and to allow people to enjoy an extra pint or two if they wish, while families and friends can come together to wish His Majesty The King a long and happy reign.”