King Charles III was officially crowned.
In a time of meticulously organized pomp, tradition, ritual and royal pageantry, which for Charles has been the great and archaic spectacle since birth – once upon a time when he had to be anointed with holy oil and swear the Oath of Kings before the Archbishop of Canterbury to a loud cry of “God Save the King!” – took place in a special service at London’s Westminster Abbey. Almost exactly 70 years ago, on June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth was crowned here. Charles, now 74, was four years old at the time.
The day began with a procession – known as The King’s Procession – that escorted the King and Queen Consort Camilla from Buckingham Palace via a gold horse-drawn carriage to Westminster Abbey for the coronation service.
Among the 2,300 in attendance were more than 100 heads of state, British political leaders old and new, as well as Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Maggie Smith, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie (the latter two performing at a special coronation concert on 7 ).
After the service, the King – along with other members of the Royal Family – returned to Buckingham Palace in a much larger procession, this time known as The Ceremonial Procession, involving 7,000 soldiers and 19 military bands, the most of any state on the occasion since the Coronation 1953.
Media lenses are hoping to capture all interactions between Prince Harry, who was only recently revealed to be an attendee (and excluding Meghan Markle, who remains in LA with her children), and his father, mother-in-law or brother Prince William following the revelations from his Netflix Documentary, autobiography and subsequent interviews were disappointed. As a guest and without a formal role, Harry was not seen with his family and was not present at the traditional appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, where Charles and Camilla – both wearing their crowns – waved to the crowd.
The coronation, which includes three full days of activity (Monday has been declared an official bank holiday), has divided opinion across Britain. Declining enthusiasm for the new king, whose popularity is significantly lower than his mother’s, has seen just 7 per cent of adult Britons describe themselves as “dedicated royalists” and 58 per cent have no interest in the royal family. Only 9 percent state that weekend events are “very important” to them.
But much of the debate has centered on the cost of the Lavash event – £250m ($286m) paid by the UK taxpayer at a time when the cost of living crisis has pushed many into poverty. Charles is already king – a title he inherited when the second Queen Elizabeth passed away last year – and the fact that this archaic event was not scaled down to reflect the current time, or even funded by the royal family itself, has added value leave a sour taste in the mouths of some. For others, however, maintaining the spectacle of this great royal occasion is a source of great national pride, and thousands lined the streets for the procession.
Before the coronation had even begun, some Republican activists planning peaceful protests were arrested “on suspicion of disturbing the peace” by London’s Metropolitan Police, who also confiscated hundreds of posters.
“Our tolerance for disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low,” police said earlier in the week. “We will crack down on anyone who intends to undermine this celebration.”
Mother Nature’s attitude towards the monarchy may be unknown, but after almost a week of sunshine, the day was marked by persistent rain and the inclement weather forced the Royal Air Force to reduce its military overflight time. Rain was now reportedly a feature of the previous four coronation days, including 1953.