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Charles III’s coronation seeks to assert monarchy’s central role in 21st-century UK

In London on Saturday, King Charles will be crowned in an event marked by a level of pomp and ceremony not seen in other European royal families

New official photo of Charles III and Camilla at Buckingham Palace
New official photo of Charles III and Camilla at Buckingham Palace, published on April 28.HUGO BURNAND/ROYAL HOUSEHOLD 202 (via REUTERS)
Rafa de Miguel

At 10:20 a.m. local time on Saturday, King Charles III and Camilla, the queen consort, will leave Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Made in Australia in 2012, the carriage boasts air conditioning, hydraulic suspension and a reinforced aluminum chassis. As ever, it will be pulled by six Windsor Grey horses, bred in the royal stables and chosen for their particular beauty and poise. Tradition and modernity combined.

The coronation of King Charles III

El sábado 6 de mayo, Carlos III será coronado

en la abadía de Westminster, junto a la reina

consorte Camila.

Route taken by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953

Route of Charles III’s coronation in 2023

(the return to the palace will follow the same route)

Main points with big screens for public viewing

Oxford

Circus

Marble

Arch

Oxford St.

Regent St.

MAYFAIR

Trafalgar

Square

Piccadilly

River Thames

The Mall

Whitehall

Green Park

Hyde Park

Wellington

Arch

St. James Park

Buckingham

Palace

BELGRAVIA

Westminster

Abbey

WESTMINSTER

300 m

TIMETABLE

10.20 Procesión del Rey

11.00 Acto de la coronación

13.00 Procesión de coronación

Las cinco etapas de la liturgia

The recognition

The Oath

The anointing

The investiture

The enthronement

Duration

approximately

two hours

More than 2,000 guests will participate in the event, including heads of state, religious representatives and members of the world’s royal families, including King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain.

Source: in-house production

C. AYUSO / EL PAÍS

The coronation of King Charles III

El sábado 6 de mayo, Carlos III será coronado

en la abadía de Westminster, junto a la reina

consorte Camila.

Route taken by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953

Route of Charles III’s coronation in 2023

(the return to the palace will follow the same route)

Main points with big screens for public viewing

Oxford

Circus

Marble

Arch

Oxford St.

Regent St.

MAYFAIR

Trafalgar

Square

Piccadilly

River Thames

The Mall

Whitehall

Green Park

Hyde Park

Wellington

Arch

St. James Park

Buckingham

Palace

BELGRAVIA

Westminster

Abbey

WESTMINSTER

300 m

TIMETABLE

10.20 Procesión del Rey

11.00 Acto de la coronación

13.00 Procesión de coronación

Las cinco etapas de la liturgia

The recognition

The Oath

The anointing

The investiture

The enthronement

Duration

approximately

two hours

More than 2,000 guests will participate in the event, including heads of state, religious representatives and members of the world’s royal families, including King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain.

Source: in-house production

C. AYUSO / EL PAÍS

The coronation of King Charles III

On Saturday May 6, Charles III will be crowned at Westminster Abbey

together with Queen Consort Camilla.

Route taken by Queen

Elizabeth II in 1953

Oxford

Circus

Route of Charles III’s

coronation in 2023 (the return

to the palace will follow

the same route)

Oxford Street

Regent Street

Marble Arch

Main points with big screens

for public viewing

MAYFAIR

Trafalgar

Square

Piccadilly

Whitehall

The Mall

River Thames

Green Park

Hyde Park

Wellington

Arch

St. James Park

Palace of

Westminster

WESTMINSTER

Buckingham

Palace

BELGRAVIA

Westminster

Abbey

London

300 m

TIMETABLE

10.20 King’s Procession

11.00 Coronation Ceremony

13.00 Coronation Procession

Diamond Jubilee State Coach

Built to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the reign of Elizabeth II in 2012 in which Charles III and Camilla will travel to the ceremony at Westminster Abbey (King’s Procession).

The five stages of the liturgy

The recognition

The Oath

The anointing

The investiture

The enthronement

Duration

approximately

two hours

Gold State Coach

Built in 1762 and used during coronations since 1831. Charles III and Camilla will travel back to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach in the first royal procession after the end of the ceremony (Coronation Procession).

More than 2,000 guests will participate in the event, including heads of state, religious representatives and members of the world’s royal families, including King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain.

Source: in-house production

C. AYUSO / EL PAÍS

Once at Westminster Abbey, the United Kingdom’s new king will swear to rule according to law and to defend the Protestant faith of the Church of England, of which he is supreme governor. However, half of the 2,000 guests inside the abbey – doctors, nurses, social workers and community volunteers – will represent a more diverse British society whose members encompass other religions, or aren’t religious at all. Charles will shun the stockings and breeches worn by his grandfather, George VI, instead donning military uniform. He won’t, though, do without the velvet and ermine cape worn in 1953 by his mother, Elizabeth II, and by Charles himself during his investiture as the prince of Wales in 1969.

And, as in the coronation of his mother, who allowed the ceremony to be televised for the first time, cameras will be prevented from capturing the moment when the archbishop of Canterbury anoints the king, now seated on the Coronation Chair, with sacred oil. On this occasion, olive oil will be used, rather than whale oil: a show of environmental awareness from the king, who is intent on striking a balance between present-day values and established rites. He also understands as well as anyone that the British monarchy’s mystical pull is key to its survival.

“The oil to be used for the coronation has been consecrated in Jerusalem, at a special ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” George Gross, a research fellow in theology at King’s College London, has explained. “It has been created from the olive groves of the Mount of Olives […]. The choice of anointing oil from Jerusalem is also a pointer to the Abrahamic religions, with Jerusalem being a city of great importance and significance for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.”

Although the ceremony has no explicit constitutional significance – Charles III has been king since the death of Elizabeth II – no monarch has truly ascended to the throne in the eyes of the British public until the moment of their coronation. Edward VIII, who reigned for just 325 days before abdicating for love, never had the Imperial State Crown placed on his head. “One of the few things he did right – at least he made the decision before being crowned,” was the characteristically sarcastic assessment of Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the wife of George VI and grandmother of the current monarch.

On the streets of London, there will be protests against the monarchy. Twice now, Charles III has narrowly missed being hit by an egg during a public event. Placards reading “not my king” will chiefly serve to highlight the minority status of republicanism in the United Kingdom, rather than underlining another reality: according to a YouGov poll, 71% of Brits are completely indifferent to this weekend’s celebrations, and have no interest in taking part.

The guests at the royal event of the century

When Elizabeth II was crowned, Winston Churchill was the prime minister of the United Kingdom and was among the most reluctant to allow TV cameras into Westminster Abbey. Churchill had won a war and lost an empire. India’s independence still rankled with him. On Saturday, a prime minister of Indian origin who is a practicing Hindu, Rishi Sunak, a man completely comfortable in front of the lens, will read a passage from the New Testament’s Epistle to the Colossians.

Other representatives of Sunak’s government will also be at the ceremony, as will each of the living former prime ministers: John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. However, while the more than 8,000 guests invited in 1953 included a healthy contingent of MPs and Lords, on this occasion there will only be 40 of each – much to the irritation of many in both houses of parliament.

A further contrast to Elizabeth II’s coronation – which at the time was a form of communion between the British people and their queen, without outside influences – is that almost 100 heads of state will be in London on Saturday. The king and queen of Spain, Felipe VI and Letizia, will be in attendance, along with other global royalty: this will include the prince and princess of Monaco, Albert and Charlene; Japanese Crown Prince Akishino and his wife Kiko, the crown princess; and King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, accompanied by his daughter, Crown Princess Victoria.

The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has confirmed that he will be present, as has the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. U.S. President Joe Biden won’t be there; the first lady, Jill Biden, will attend on his behalf.

Harry in attendance, Meghan absent

Given that the British royal family’s quarrels and reconciliations are prime fodder for the country’s tabloid newspapers – and the worldwide media – Saturday’s ceremony promises to see the press pack fill its boots. Charles’ Achilles heel, his son Prince Harry, has in the end confirmed his attendance. He will be inside Westminster Abbey, but he won’t be in the front row; his role in the event will be reduced to that of any other guest. His wife, Meghan Markle, has opted to remain in the U.S. with the couple’s two children. Their son, Archie, turns four on the day of the coronation.

Harry’s brother, on the other hand – Prince William, the current prince of Wales and the heir to the throne – will kneel before his father to swear loyalty to him until his death, just as Prince Philip did during Elizabeth II’s coronation.

A privileged position will be given to the two siblings of the king who have a major role in many public events: Princess Anne and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Edward, will be in the front row. Prince Andrew, who has been ostracized over his murky relationship with the billionaire American pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, will be placed out of sight. His former wife, Sarah Ferguson, hasn’t been invited.

The crowning of Queen Camilla

For some months now, since the end of the mourning period after Elizabeth II’s death, Buckingham Palace has done without the word “consort” when referring to Queen Camilla. For the media, and many citizens, it is still hard not to use the adjective. The coronation will likely serve to make it all feel a little bit more normal. For decades the most hated woman in the United Kingdom, Camilla Parker-Bowles will also be anointed with sacred oil and enthroned in a ceremony that will be simpler than her husband’s, but no less significant. On her head will rest the Crown of the Queen Mother, which was made for Queen Mary, the wife of George V. It weighs 600 grams, is fitted with a purple velvet cap and bears 2,200 diamonds.

King Charles and Queen Camilla will return to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach, whose exterior design includes painted panels, cherubs and tritons. The king will wear the Imperial State Crown, which weighs a kilogram and features 2,868 diamonds. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown,” said William Shakespeare’s Henry IV. For King Charles, what weighed heavily were the long decades waiting to become king. It may be that nobody enjoys Saturday’s ceremony more than he.

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