What to expect from King Charles' coronation ceremony

king charles coronation rituals
What will happen at King Charles' coronation?Ben A. Pruchnie - Getty Images

Following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in September 2022, The Prince of Wales became King of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms. King Charles III will officially be crowned in a coronation ceremony on Saturday 6 May.

A hugely traditional and religious occasion, King Charles III's coronation ceremony will feature numerous rituals involving the Crown Jewels’ Coronation Regalia, which is used only when a new king or queen is coronated and includes items such as the Sovereign’s Orb, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Coronation Spoon.

What happens at the King's coronation?

So, what will actually happen at the King's coronation? Conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Westminster Abbey (the church used for coronating monarchy since 1066), the ceremony will comprise of these main stages:

The Recognition

In a tradition dating back to The Witan, the King's council during Anglo-Saxon times, the sovereign stands in the middle of the theatre (Westminster Abbey's central space) in order to show themselves to the people.

The Oath

As part of his coronation ceremony, King Charles, like all sovereigns before him, will take the coronation oath. While the wording and format of the oath has varied over centuries, Queen Elizabeth II swore to rule according to law, to exercise justice with mercy and to maintain the Church of England. It is assumed that Charles' oath will be similar.

The Anointing

After taking the oath, the King will be anointed, blessed and consecrated by the Archbishop. For this, the sovereign is seated in King Edward's chair, which dates back to 1300. The anointing is done with holy oil, while the Stone of Destiny – sacred symbol of Scotland’s monarchy – will be under the chair. The rectangle, red sandstone block is kept at Edinburgh Castle and is only moved for the coronation of a new monarch.

The Investiture

King Charles will then don a sleeveless white tunic known as the Colobium Sindonis and the Supertunica, a full-length, sleeved coat made of gold silk cloth. The ceremonial sword and spurs are then presented along with the armills (medieval-style bracelets), the Orb, the Sceptre with the Cross and the Rod with the Dove. The coronation ring, a symbol of 'kingly dignity', will also be put on the fourth finger of Charles' right hand by the Archbishop. Ruby has been the principal stone in the ring since the 13th century.

The Crowning

Still sat in in King Edward’s Chair, Charles will be crowned by the Archbishop with St Edward’s Crown. The centrepiece of the Crown Jewels, the crown is solid gold and decorated with 444 precious and semi-precious stones. It weighs 2.23kg.

The Homage

After the crowning, it was ceremonial tradition for royal blood princes, the Archbishop and other senior peers to pay homage and swear allegiance to the monarch. However, it's been reported that King Charles has decided against having royal dukes kneel before him at his coronation.

The Crowning of the Queen

As Queen Consort, Camilla Parker-Bowles will also be crowned. This is expected to be done after the crowning of King Charles in a similar but less lengthy ceremony. The crown worn by Camilla will be that of Queen Mary, who was also a Queen Consort and was coronated alongside King George V in 1911. Read more about what Camilla is expected to be wearing at her coronation.

How long will the coronation take?

Before the coronation service, King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort, will travel via a procession to Westminster Abbey. The procession begins at 10.20am, with Their Majesties reaching the Abbey for 11am.

The Coronation service at Westminster Abbey will begin at 11am and finish at 1pm.

Following this, the newly-coronated King and Queen will make their way back to Buckingham Palace. This is expected to take around 30 minutes — meaning they will arrive at the Palace for 1.30pm. After this, they will appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony for a celebratory flypast.

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