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Your full guide to King Charles III’s coronation and the key times

  1. By the Visual Journalism Team

  2. BBC News

1 hour ago

Millions of people across the UK and beyond are preparing to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III – a symbolic ceremony combining a religious service and pageantry.

It is being held at Westminster Abbey on 6 May and the King, who will be crowned along with the Queen Consort, will be the 40th reigning monarch crowned there since 1066.

The day of splendour and formality will feature customs dating back more than 1,000 years. Here is how we expect it to unfold.

The formal celebrations will begin with a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey with viewing areas along the route opening at 06:00 BST.

Public access to sites along The Mall and Whitehall will be on a first-come, first-served basis, with people directed to official screening sites in Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’s Park once they are full.

Stands for invited guests, including armed forces’ veterans and NHS and social care staff, have been erected outside Buckingham Palace.

Just under 200 members of the armed forces – most from the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry – who will be taking part in the procession to Westminster Abbey will start to gather from 09:45.

Another 1,000 service personnel will line the route, but the overall procession will be much smaller than its equivalent in 1953 when other royal families and Commonwealth prime ministers were among those who took part.

Procession begins

The procession will set off at 10:20 BST (04:20 EST), moving along The Mall to Trafalgar Square, then down Whitehall and Parliament Street before turning into Parliament Square and Broad Sanctuary to reach the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey.

In a break from tradition, King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will be in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach rather than the older, more uncomfortable, Gold State Coach.

Westminster Abbey arrival

The procession is expected to arrive at the abbey at 10:53, with the King likely to wear military uniform instead of the more traditional breeches and silk stockings worn by kings before him.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

King Charles may wear a military uniform like the one he wore for his mother’s committal service last year, while his grandfather George VI wore breeches and stockings at his coronation

King Charles will enter through the Great West Door and proceed through the nave until he reaches the central space in the abbey.

The ceremony is due to begin at 11:00 and will be punctuated with music selected by the King, with 12 newly commissioned pieces, including one by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Greek Orthodox music in memory of the King’s father, Prince Philip.

The King’s grandson, Prince George, will be among the pages at Westminster Abbey, alongside Camilla’s grandchildren, Lola, Eliza, Gus, Louis and Freddy. Some of those taking part in the procession inside the abbey will carry the regalia ahead of the King, with most items placed on the altar until needed in the ceremony.

What is the regalia?

The UK is, according to the Royal Family website, the only European country that still uses regalia – the symbols of royalty like the crown, orb and sceptres – in coronations.

The individual objects symbolise different aspects of the service and responsibilities of the monarch.

Charles will be presented with the Sovereign’s Orb, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove and other items at key moments in the ceremony.

And Camilla will be presented with the Queen Consort’s Rod with Dove and the Queen Consort’s Sceptre with Cross – mirroring the King’s sceptres.

There are several stages to the service, which is expected to last a little under two hours.

Stage one: The recognition

King Charles will be presented to “the people” – a tradition dating back to Anglo-Saxon times.

Standing beside the 700-year-old Coronation Chair, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will turn to each side of the abbey and proclaim Charles the “undoubted King” before asking the congregation to show their homage and service.

The congregation will shout “God Save the King!” and trumpets will sound after each recognition.

The Coronation Chair, also known as St Edward’s Chair or King Edward’s Chair, is believed to be the oldest piece of furniture in the UK still used for its original purpose. A total of 26 monarchs have been crowned in it.

It was originally made by order of England’s King Edward I to enclose the Stone of Destiny, which had been taken from near Scone in Scotland.

The stone – an ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy – was returned to Scotland in 1996 but is due to be transferred back to London for use in the service.

During the coronation, the oak chair is placed in the centre of the historic medieval mosaic floor known as the “Cosmati pavement”, in front of and facing the High Altar, to emphasise the religious nature of the ceremony.

Stage two: The oath

The Archbishop of Canterbury will ask King Charles to confirm that he will uphold the law and the Church of England during his reign, before the King places his hand on the Holy Gospel and takes the Coronation Oath – a legal requirement.

King Charles might add some words to acknowledge the multiple faiths observed in Britain, although this may not form part of the oath itself, and has not been confirmed.

He will also take a second oath – the Accession Declaration Oath – stating that he is a “faithful Protestant”.

Stage three: The anointing

The King’s ceremonial robe will be removed and he will sit in the Coronation Chair to be anointed, emphasising the spiritual status of the sovereign who is also the head of the Church of England.

The archbishop will pour special oil from the Ampulla – a gold flask – on to the Coronation Spoon before anointing the King in the form of a cross on his head, breast and hands.

The Ampulla was made for Charles II’s coronation, but its shape harks back to an earlier version and a legend that the Virgin Mary appeared to St Thomas a Becket in the 12th Century and gave him a golden eagle from which future kings of England would be anointed.

The Coronation Spoon is much older, having survived Oliver Cromwell’s destruction of the regalia after the English Civil War.

Stage four: The investiture

Literally the crowning moment – when the King will wear St Edward’s Crown for the only time in his life.

The crown is named after a much earlier version made for the Anglo-Saxon king and saint, Edward the Confessor, and said to have been used at coronations after 1220 until Cromwell had it melted down.

It was made for King Charles II, who wanted a crown similar to the one worn by Edward but even grander.

King Charles III will be only the seventh monarch to wear it after Charles II, James II, William III, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II – who last wore it at her own coronation in 1953.

First the King will be presented with items including the Sovereign’s Orb, the Coronation Ring, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove.

At midday, the archbishop will place St Edward’s Crown on the King’s head and trumpets will sound and gun salutes will be fired across the UK.

A 62-round salute will be fired at the Tower of London, with a six-gun salvo at Horse Guards Parade. Twenty-one rounds will be fired at a further 11 locations around the UK, including Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, and on deployed Royal Navy ships.

Stage five: The enthronement

The final part of the ceremony will see the King take the throne. He may even be lifted into it by the archbishop, bishops and other peers of the kingdom.

Traditionally, a succession of royals and peers would then have paid homage by kneeling before the new king, swearing allegiance and kissing his right hand.

However, it is thought Prince William will be the only Royal Duke to pay homage to King Charles.

The Queen Consort

After the homage, Queen Camilla will be anointed, crowned and enthroned in a simpler ceremony – although she will not have to take an oath.

She will be crowned with Queen Mary’s Crown – originally made for Queen Mary’s coronation alongside George V – but it is being modified to remove some of the arches and reset with the Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds.

The departure

The King and Queen Consort will descend from their thrones and are likely to enter St Edward’s Chapel – here Charles will remove St Edward’s Crown and put on the Imperial State Crown before joining the procession out of the abbey as the national anthem is played.

The King and Queen Consort will then return to Buckingham Palace along the reverse of the route by which they came, this time travelling in the 260-year-old Gold State Coach that has been used in every coronation since William IV’s in 1831.

Reports suggest the Prince of Wales’s three children, princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte, will join the procession with their parents, in a carriage behind the Gold State Coach.

They will be joined by representatives from Commonwealth countries and the British Overseas Territories.

And the Royal British Legion will provide a 100-strong guard of honour to line the procession route in Parliament Square.

It will take about 33 minutes to travel the 1.42 miles (2.29km) right into the palace grounds, and the procession itself is expected to take about 22 minutes to pass a single point.

In 1953, the route was more than four miles long and it took 45 minutes for the whole procession to pass a single point.

The King and Queen Consort are expected to enter Buckingham Palace through the Centre Arch at 13:33 and, after a short pause, arrive at the garden terrace, where they will receive the royal salute and three cheers, at 13:45.

Buckingham Palace fly-past

It has become customary since the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 for the new monarch to greet the crowds in The Mall from the Buckingham Palace balcony – the Queen was joined by her mother, children and sister among other royals as she watched a fly-past involving hundreds of planes in 1953.

Buckingham Palace has confirmed that King Charles and Queen Camilla will continue the tradition – although which members of the Royal Family will be involved has not yet been confirmed.

Those there will witness the end of the day’s public celebrations, with a six-minute fly-past involving members of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force and culminating in a display by the Red Arrows.

Written and produced by Chris Clayton, design by Lilly Huynh and Zoe Bartholomew, illustration by Jenny Law

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