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Written by: Hannah Boniface

So it’s King Charles III Coronation this weekend, but what does that mean, and, perhaps why is it happening? To learn more and understand the history behind this event read on!

Charles III became king upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II who passed away at 15:10 BST on Thursday 8th September 2022. Charles was proclaimed King by the Accession Council of the UK on Saturday 10th September. This was followed by proclamations in other Commonwealth realms. However, although Charles is officially the king, there’s still the business of the coronation to take place.

What is the Coronation?

The coronation of a British Monarch is an arcane ceremony whose origins date back almost a thousand years. Charles III is already the King, but the ceremony simply invests him with the regalia and he is formally crowned. 

The coronation of Charles III is the first to take place in the UK since that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. This will be the first Coronation of the British Monarch in the 21st century and the 40th to be held at Westminster Abby since 1066.

Preparations for Charles’s accession to the throne and the coronation ceremony have been in progress for quite some time with the plan going by the codename, Operation Golden Orb. During Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, meetings to plan Operation Golden Orb were held at least once a year and were attended by representatives of the government, the Church of England and Clarence House staff. 

On 5th April 2023, the official invitation from King Charles III and Queen Camilla was unveiled and sent to around 2,000 guests. The invitation for the Coronation was designed by Andrew Jamieson, who is a heraldic artist and manuscript illuminator. The invitation features the couple’s coats of arms and a motif of the Green Man against a background of the representative flowers of the UK and a British wildflower meadow and wildlife. A new certified photo of the royal couple by Hugo Burnand was also released. On the evening and early morning of the 17th and 18th April, the initial dress rehearsal took place in London for the military processions. The RAF were also seen rehearsing for the flypast. 

The actual coronation of Charles III and his wife Camilla as King and Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, will take place on Saturday, 6 May 2023, at Westminster Abbey. It will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. 

What will happens at King Charles III Coronation?

Thousands of VIP guests and millions of viewers across the world will watch the coronation. It all begins with the anointing of King Charles. This symbolises his spiritual start into kingship. The next step is the crowning and enthronement. The crowning and enthronement, represent his assumption of temporal powers (worldly powers of state as opposed to spiritual powers) and responsibilities. 

The crown used is the St Edward’s Crown, which has been used in coronations since Charles II became monarch in 1661. The crown replaced the medieval crown which dated back, it’s thought, to the 11th Century and the time of Edward the Confessor. However, this original crown was melted down in 1649 when England briefly became a republic after the execution of Charles the First. 

Camilla will be crowned in a shorter and much simpler ceremony. The royal family will then travel to Buckingham Palace, in a state procession and then make their appearance on the balcony to celebrate the occasion. 

Charles the Third’s coronation will undergo a few amendments to represent multiple faiths, cultures, and communities across the UK. With the ceremony expected to last 2 hours, it’s set to be considerably shorter than the 7-hour event that heralded Queen Elizabeth the Second’s official ascension to the throne. 

During the impressive ceremony, which is set to cost £250 million, a variety of royal ceremonial objects are used. These include the sovereign’s sceptre with cross and the Sovereign’s Orb, which are handed to the monarch by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the coronation spoon, the oldest of the relics, which is used to anoint the monarch with holy oils. Over time the objects used for each sovereign’s Coronation has altered, however, the essentials of the service have remained practically the same for almost a thousand years.

As he leaves Westminster Abbey, King Charles will then wear the Imperial State Crown. The Imperial State Crown is also worn by the monarch at the state openings of parliament and is worth between an estimated £3-5 billion.

How the coronation is being celebrated and how to get involved…

The coronation will be marked by public ceremonies and celebrations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the British Crown Dependencies and overseas territories. 

The Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle will also take place on the 7th of May Representatives of the King and Queen’s charities as well as members of the public will be in attendance. The Big Help Out initiative will take place on 8th May, this is to encourage community service and volunteering. Both the coronation at Westminster Abby and the concert at Windsor Castle will be broadcast on television and streamed online.

There are plenty of ways to get involved with the celebratory fun; cooking, for example. Online you can find many meal ideas revolved around the Coronation for example a Strawberry and Ginger Trifle made by Adam Handling, Nadiya Hussain’s Coronation Aubergine or Martha Collison’s Coronation Crown Scones. All these recipes and many more can be found on the Government website for the Coronation, along with activities to print out for children to enjoy and bunting with the Coronation emblem printed on, or you can make your own. 

It’s expected that more than 3000 street parties will be held across Britain to celebrate the coronation. Most of these will take place on the 7th of May, but Coronation Big Lunches can be held anytime from the 6th to the 8th of May, and even carry over into June. The events invite the public to celebrate this occasion by having gatherings and lunches with their neighbours, local community, family, and friends. How will you be celebrating?

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