The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla took place on Saturday 6 May 2023. Here we reflect on some of the highlights from a truly spectacular royal weekend…
The Coronation of King Charles III took on Saturday 6 May 2023 at Westminster Abbey, the first coronation service to happen in the UK for 70 years, since Queen Elizabeth II’s, in June 1953.
The Coronation of King Charles III was one of the most hotly anticipated events ever in the British royal calendar and, as was expected, was filled with spectacle, pageantry and ancient history.
At 74, King Charles is the longest serving Prince of Wales in British history, and the oldest person to ever be crowned King – this was the pinnacle of his life in service.
The Coronation of King Charles III: Our breakdown of the day
The King’s Procession
King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort, arrived at Westminster Abbey in a procession from Buckingham Palace, known as ‘The King’s Procession.’
Travelling in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, which was built to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, Their Majesties were greeted by royal fans who had been lining the route in preparation for a glimpse of the pageantry; many had camped out for days, despite the terrible weather!
Flanking the route of their procession were over 1,000 members of the Armed Forces, Standard Bearers of the Royal British Legion, Civilian Services and Community Organisations. Military veterans, NHS and social care workers, representatives of charitable organisations, and the Cadet Forces, all had the opportunity to view the procession.
The Coronation of King Charles III: Service
The service at Westminster Abbey began at 11am. With Prince George acting as one of the four Pages of Honour for the King, following behind him in his procession up the Abbey, all eyes were on the Wales family as the future of the monarchy. Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis sat with their parents at the front of the Abbey to watch the service, and looked adorable (Princess Charlotte and the Princess of Wales were wearing matching beautiful headpieces). Prince Louis, aged five, after winning hearts with his sweet naughtiness at last year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, behaved impeccably throughout – although we did catch a couple of yawns from him!
The Coronation Service has remained relatively unchanged since its conception over 900 years ago for the Coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, and the ancient service is rich in religious significance, history and pageantry.
The service is deeply sacred and traditional, while reflecting the Monarch’s role today and looking towards the future. You can read more about what each moment of the ceremony represented, as well as the beautiful music included throughout the ceremony, on the Royal Family’s website, here.
A moving moment came when the Prince of Wales was called upon to swear an oath to his father, the King. The Prince kneeled before the King declaring: “I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you, and faith and truth I will bear unto you, as your liege man of life and limb. So help me God.”
Following this, he knelt down to kiss his father on the cheek. Charles quietly responded with ‘thank you, William.’ This was a very touching moment between father and son and it must have meant a great deal to both them.
When the moment of crowning arrived, The Dean of Westminster delivered the St Edward’s Crown to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was conducting the service. He offered a blessing, before placing it on the King’s head.
The Archbishop led the congregation in saying ‘God Save The King’ and the bells of the Abbey rang out as gun salutes were fired across London and at Saluting Stations throughout the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Bermuda, and His Majesty’s ships at sea.
Read more about the significance of St Edward’s Crown, here.
Following the King, Queen Camilla was crowned with the Crown of Queen Mary, and, afterwards they processed together back down the Abbey, as the National Anthem was sung, before embarking in the Gold State Coach for Buckingham Palace. It was very special to see them walking side by side, and their gratitude and emotion was evident.
The Coronation procession from Westminster Abbey back to Buckingham Palace included Armed Forces from across the Commonwealth and the British Overseas Territories, and all Services of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, alongside The Sovereign’s Bodyguard and Royal Watermen. It was the largest of its kind since the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with nearly 4,000 personnel taking part.
From the beautifully ornate Gold State Coach, which is 260 years old, the newly-crowned King and Queen waved gratefully and happy at the huge crowds who had gathered to wish them well along the procession.
Read more about who took part in the Coronation Procession, here.
The Coronation of King Charles III: The Royal Salute
Having returned to the palace, the King and Queen received a Royal Salute in Buckingham Palace Garden from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Armed Forces who were on parade. With three cheers of ‘hip hip hooray’ they removed their bearskin hats to celebrate the new King, who looked on with huge emotion in his eyes. This was one of the most incredible moments of the whole day.
The Coronation of King Charles III: Buckingham Palace Balcony
Saturday’s events ended with an appearance from the working royals on Buckingham Palace balcony, a centuries-old tradition that is well-loved by the British public. The family waved thanked the crowds, and watched the ceremonial fly-past from the Red Arrows (The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team) concluding the day’s events. It was a truly special moment to see them all together, enjoying the moment and marking the dawn of the new Carolean Age.
You can see more photos from the balcony, and from the whole weekend on the Royal Family’s Instagram page, here.
The Coronation of King Charles III: The Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle
Sunday’s events included the nationwide Big Lunch, which encouraged communities to get together to celebration the Coronation of King Charles III, followed by a less-traditional but really marvellous Coronation Concert in the evening. The concert was held in the gardens of Windsor Castle, which made for a memorable and unique backdrop to the event, and included international superstars such as Lionel Richie and Andrea Bocelli, as well as performances from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Ballet, a special Commonwealth Choir, and much, much more.
On what was, luckily, a dry and clear spring evening, the concert appealed to all audiences and had everyone up and dancing; even Their Majesties were up and joining in the fun.
In a moving speech that paid tribute to his father during the concert, the Prince of Wales said ‘Pa, we are all so proud of you.’
And, of course, a touching reference had to be made to the late Queen Elizabeth II, whose Platinum Jubilee we were celebrating just under a year ago. Prince William said, ‘I know she’s up there, fondly keeping an eye on us. And she would be a very proud mother.’
And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
There are plenty of Coronation celebration events happening throughout the country over the next few months, you can see our list and get your copy of our special coronation souvenir magazine, ‘Crowning of the King’ here.