The coronation of King Charles III will take place on Saturday, 6th May 2023. It will be a ceremony full of pomp and pageantry. Yet, what exactly is a coronation, and what does it involve? Here are some facts about the coronation to help you understand the crowning of the new British monarch.
What is the Coronation of Charles III?
The coronation is a symbolic ceremony marking the accession to the throne of Charles III. It’s not the official date when Charles becomes king. As the late Queen’s first and oldest child, Charles officially became king the second his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died. The coronation is more of a swearing-in or initiation rite. It’s also partly a celebration of Charles becoming king. This is why the coronation doesn’t occur immediately after a monarch’s death and during a period of mourning. The actual coronation is the placement of the crown upon the monarch’s head.
Who conducts the coronation?
The religious service is conducted by the most senior Bishop of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury has coronated the monarch since the Norman Conquest in 1066.
Where will the coronation take place?
The coronation of Charles III will take place at Westminster Abbey in London. Royal coronations have taken place there for over 900 years. William the Conqueror was the first monarch to be crowned in Westminster Cathedral, and Charles III will be the fortieth.
The Queen Consort
The coronation will not just see Charles crowned king but his wife, Camilla, be anointed and crowned the Queen Consort. As with Charles, she will be anointed by the placing of holy oil on her head by the Archbishop of Canterbury. She will then be crowned. Mainly due to sensitivities around the marriage of Charles to Princess Diana, it was agreed Camilla would not take the Princess of Wales title by which Diana was known. Instead, she chose to be known as the Duchess of Cornwall and the Princess Consort. Similarly, once Charles is king, she will be known as the Queen Consort.
St Edward’s Crown
An important part of the ceremony is the regalia and robes the king is given to mark his accession to the throne. No adornment is more special than the crown placed upon the new king’s head. This crown is St Edward’s Crown. Among all the Crown Jewels, St Edward’s Crown is considered one of the most priceless and is only brought out in public for coronations. It has a solid gold frame and is adorned with numerous semi-precious stones. It’s named after Edward the Confessor, the 11th-century king who owned the original crown. When that was melted down by parliamentarians in 1649, the present crown was made as its replacement.
The Coronation Chair
Another integral part of the ceremony is the Coronation Chair, also known as King Edward’s Chair, which has been used for coronations since 1308. It’s a high-backed, gothic-style chair carved from oak. The chair was made by order of King Edward I to be placed over the Stone of Scone, which was brought from Scotland to Westminster Abbey in 1296. The legendary Stone of Scone was used in the coronations of first Irish and then Scottish kings. It, too, will be in place under the Coronation Chair for the ceremony.
How long will the coronation last?
The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 lasted almost three hours. However, conscious of the current cost of living crisis in the UK, where people may be struggling financially, Charles’s coronation is rumoured to be pared down and not last as long. However, to encompass all the necessary parts of the coronation, it will still last at least an hour and possibly two. However, the scaled-down ceremony will have 2,000 guests, a significant reduction from the 8,000 initially expected. Although essentially an Anglican service, the service will also be more inclusive of modern, multi-faith Britain.
Whatever form the coronation takes, it promises to be both a historic and spectacular occasion. At the end of the ceremony, Charles will walk out of Westminster Cathedral so that the crowds can proclaim their new monarch, King Charles III.
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