King Charles presses foreheads and noses with Maori people at first Commonwealth address

King Charles called on the Commonwealth to 'unite and be bold' credit:Bang Showbiz
King Charles called on the Commonwealth to 'unite and be bold' credit:Bang Showbiz

King Charles touched foreheads and noses with Māori people, a greeting called the Hongi, as he arrived at the 2023 Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday (13.03.23).

The British monarch gave his first address as King at the Commonwealth Service, where he was greeted by Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club and performed the traditional greeting with two of the members.

By contrast, there were also protestors outside holding bold yellow placards spelling out 'Not my King'.

In his speech, the 74-year-old king recalled his late mother Queen Elizabeth's "particular pride" in the Commonwealth.

He continued: "The Commonwealth has been a constant in my own life, and yet its diversity continues to amaze and inspire me.”

The royal said the people of the Commonwealth need to "unite and be bold" in the many "challenges" it faces.

He added: “It’s near boundless potential as a force for good in the world demands our highest ambition; its sheer scale challenges us to unite and be bold.”

Charles broke the queen's tradition of pre-recording the address by attending in person with senior royals, including the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The same venue is set to host the king's upcoming Coronation ceremony.

A star-studded concert will form part of the three-day event.

Charles became monarch upon the death of the queen last September but will formally be crowned on 6 May, and the event planned will bring the UK together in a modern, multi-cultural series of festivities.

The celebrations will represent Britain “as it is today” while maintaining the best traditions of pomp and pageantry “for which we are rightly known”, with the coronation set to be "majestic" but "inclusive".

The weekend will begin with the formal coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey, a "solemn religious service" which will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and, according to Buckingham Palace, will reflect the monarch's role now, as well as looking ahead to the future.

Charles - who has opted to wear a military uniform instead of the traditional breeches and stockings worn by his ancestors - and Queen Consort Camilla will arrive at the Abbey in The King’s Procession from Buckingham Palace.

After the service, they will return to Buckingham Palace in a larger Coronation Procession, accompanied by other members of the royal family, and they will late appear on the balcony of the building to greet the thousands of well-wishers expected to gather on the Mall.

On 7 May, Windsor Castle will play host to a Coronation Concert, where “global music icons and contemporary stars" will perform to thousands of members of the public, who will be able to apply for pairs of free tickets through a national ballot, as well as volunteers from the charities the King and Queen Consort are patrons of.

A world-class orchestra will accompany some of the biggest entertainers as they perform well-known classic songs, and stars of stage and screen will present spoken word sequences.

One highlight of the concert will be the Coronation Choir, which will bring together singers from community choirs throughout Britain, including refugee choirs, NHS choirs, LGBTQ+ singing groups and deaf signing choirs. They will be accompanied by a Virtual Choir of singers from across the Commonwealth.

The BBC will broadcast the concert and also a documentary about the formation of the choir.

During the show, iconic landmarks across the country will be lit up.

On the same day, friends and neighbours will be urged to join up for street parties to celebrate the Coronation Big Lunch while on 8 May - an extra bank holiday - people will be encouraged to donate a few hours for The Big Help Out, a volunteer scheme designed to pay tribute to Charles' own years of public service and desire to create lasting change.