After a week of final preparations amid glorious sunshine the heavens opened on Saturday, the long-awaited morning of King Charles III and Queen Camilla’s coronation arrived.
The ceremony of the royal inauguration has not occurred in England for 70 years due to the full life and long reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who died in the first week of September 2022.
Buckingham Palace described how the ceremonies commenced:
“Their Majesties The King and The Queen, escorted by The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, departed Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach for Westminster Abbey. The King’s Guard turned out in the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace and gave a Royal Salute as The King, The Queen and other Members of the Royal Family departed Buckingham Palace.” (1)
The royal family were dressed in beautifully embroidered costumes, military uniforms and heavy fur capes so they looked understandably comfortable (riding in the historic coaches) with the wet but not windy weather, for their memorable and constitutionally important national event.
There was a full and formal Church of England service at Westminster Abbey accompanied by a choir and an orchestra. The royal couple received communion and the sparking royal Sovereign Orb and the Sovereign scepter with Cross were ceremoniously given to the King and the incredibly precious old and jeweled St Edward’s Crown was carefully placed on King’s Charles head. The weighty St Edward’s Crown was gently adjusted by The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Justin Welby on Charles III’s head. (2)
Queen Camilla wore Queen Mary’s Crown updated especially for the occasion with a diamond from the late Queen Elizabeth II’s collection. The Independent explained that “It will make the Queen Consort the first consort to reuse a crown at a coronation instead of commissioning a new one since the 18th century. The last consort to do the same was Queen Caroline, the consort of King George II, who wore a crown that belonged to Mary of Modena.” (3)
A day full of symbolism such as the weight of power in the heavy crowns and the passing of ceremonial robes and jeweled objects from previous royal generations. The Choir of Westminster Abbey sung ‘Zadoc the Priest’ which was originally commissioned for the coronation of George II in 1727 and was composed by George Frederick Handel. The royal family’s military achievements and responsibilities were conveyed clearly from the wearing of their official uniforms.
The royal couple led the armed forces parade through the capitol to Buckingham Palace and Charles was wearing special velvet and ermine fur robes expertly saved from previous coronations. Charles and Camilla led the procession in the fairy tale antique gilded coach that has carried many new Kings and Queens over the last two centuries. pulled along by eight Windsor grey horses.
“The Army, Navy and RAF came together at the coronation to put on a stirring display designed to confirm their ‘inseparable bond with the sovereign’ that clearly delighted him.” wrote The Times. (4)
Thousands of enthusiastic onlookers waved and cheered as the stunning spectacle processed through the dark wet streets of London. The black, red, white and blue uniforms shining and glowing with their embroidered and gold buttoned pristineness. The horses were a little ruffled by the huge crowd but kept masterly under their rider’s control throughout. This was especially impressive when the horsemen and women were also playing musical instruments. Princess Anne demonstrated her confident horsemanship appearing at the front with the royal couple with her role as the ‘Colonel of the Household Cavalry’ and Gold Stick ‘protector’ of the King and Queen.
Millions watched the excellent coronation coverage which was broadcast by every channel in the UK apart from channel 4. Across the country large screens transmitted the coronation ceremony in real time to citizens of all ages who enjoyed sharing the historic scene with their families. Umbrellas, wellington boots and mackintosh coats were worn everywhere in city centers. Residents throughout the United Kingdom ventured out in the pouring rain to congregate outside and witness the formal church service. Together, some waving or wearing union jack flags they watched the crowning service and the royal military procession on big screens outside on their local cathedral greens and town hall plazas.
At the moment of the coronation military gun salutes rang out across the nation in Hillsborough, Cardiff and Edinburgh castles and from Portsmouth Royal dockyard. In addition, in London “The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, positioned on Horse Guards Parade fired a six-gun salvo” stated the Forces.net website. (5) (6)
Not all citizens were amused by the coronation
Not everyone in the UK supports the future of the monarchy and some would rather see England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland become a Republic. More than fifty protesters were arrested and a large group gathered in Trafalgar Square holding banners reading “Not My King”. (7) There are BBC reports that metropolitan police force were taking no chances with disruption to the event (after recent horse races have been disrupted by animal rights protesters) and it seems that some protest organisers may have been arrested before the day of the coronation as a preventative measure.
King Charles III Coronation was a security success
An overall successful day for the Metropolitan Police Service and the capitol’s security services who have had the enormous task of keeping the royal family, many international dignitaries and the general public safe during the largest military parade for decades. Amid anti-royalist demonstrations and with the backdrop of a tumultuous time with the United Kingdom involved in supporting Ukraine in a war on European territory, the police and the military have demonstrated their strength and close cooperation. The combined police forces were able to keep the peace and King Charles III’s coronation was completed without any significant hitches and will be remembered as a triumph.
Coronation an opportunity to understand the ecological vision of King Charles III
King Charles III has devoted his life to service to his country and also his interest in nature and ecology. This keenness to respect the environment is reflected in the coronation in details like the embroidered applique ‘tree of life’ portable hanging screens used in the service in Westminster Abbey and The Princess of Wales and her daughter’s floral headpieces by Jess Collett and Alexander McQueen. The live musical celebration party at Windsor Palace on Sunday night also reflected the opportunity to engage people about respecting nature and conservation.
His Royal Highness waited seventy years to sit on the throne and the new King Charles III may not be instantly relatable to the younger generation who have inherited from previous generations a worrying environmental future, who are dealing with the cost-of-living crisis, a housing shortage and the other challenges of living in Great Britain, Scotland and Northern Ireland post Brexit and during and after the disruption of national lockdowns. The vast wealth and land belonging to the Crown which includes more than ten palaces means that the Windsor’s lifestyle is not a way of life that most ordinary young people resonate with.
King Charles III has flown helicopters and aircraft and he is a musician and an artist who can communicate in several languages. Charles III wants to change the world with his views on ecology and looking after the environment, which may inspire many more young people yet, who share his ‘green’ objectives.
The Princes Trust which was founded by the then Prince of Wales in 1976 has helped thousands of young and disadvantaged folk lead productive and better lives. It would be wise to consider the ‘working royals’ a force for good and appreciate the positivity and income the royal family bring to our society. (8)
It is likely the royal family will need to continue to focus on efficiency and ‘quality not quantity’ in order to keep taxpayers happy to contribute to the continuation of supporting the working royals, who also do much as global ambassadors for the UK in terms of encouraging investment in Great Britain and the tourism economy. With a world that needs people who can inspire peace, reduce poverty and understand how to deliver big environmental change fast, having King Charles as a key leader in our country could be a fortunate privilege.
The Church and State – royal family supports stability in the UK
This traditional occasion repeats the coronation of many powerful monarchs throughout British history and establishes King Charles III as leader of the Church of England and also head of the army, navy, air force and all the military services. Although there was a nod to other religions by inviting and involving leaders and artists from other faiths, this weekend’s formal business was very much a Church of England experience. Much of the United Kingdom’s population is secular and this non-religious aspect is shown through the variety performances of the musicians and artists as part of the colourful and diverse festivities, after the crowning was completed.
The constancy of the ecclesiastical ceremony and the traditional rituals that surround royal life reflect the enduring and long-lasting nature of the British royal family. The system is deliberately designed to provide stability to the whole of the United Kingdom and the commonwealth countries it supports to continue the establishment of a stable and dependable economy and society.
The value of this historic organization which consists of several paid members of the royal family whose role is to encourage and support others was highlighted again during the Autumn of 2022. The death of the longest reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II and the simultaneously unexpected and dramatic ‘revolving door’ of conservative Prime Ministers at number 10 during in the same week in September 2022, was dramatic but it did not rock the nation irretrievably.
Nobody was physically hurt as political power swung about somewhat uncontrollably for a couple of weeks. This stabilizing force was thanks to the ritual of a tried and tested ceremonial protocol and the balance and ballast that the royal family (supported by the military, civil service and other public services) give to the constitutional leadership of the political government in Westminster.
Long live King Charles III and may his and Queen Camilla’s influence can be a positive impact for our country and relationships with our international neighbours. We hope the new King’s experience and knowledge can inspire the royal family and our nation to evolve and pursue more peace and harmony with nature and the world we live in.
(1) The Procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace website, 8 May 2023 The Procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace
(2) ‘King Charles Coronation Attire Explained’ Isiah Magsino, Town and Country online magazine, May 6 2023 ‘King Charles Coronation Attire Explained’ Isiah Magsino, Town and Country
(3) ‘Camilla’s crown won’t feature controversial Koh-i-noor diamond at King Charles coronation’ Kate Ng Lifestyle section, The Independent, 6 May 2023 ‘Camilla’s crown won’t feature controversial Koh-i-noor diamond at King Charles coronation’ Kate Ng, The Independent
(4) ‘Thousands of bearskin hats rose in unison – the ultimate military salute’ Tim Shipman, The Times, 6 May 2023 ‘Thousands of bearskin hats rose in unison – the ultimate military salute’ Tim Shipman, The Times
(5) ‘Celebratory military gun salutes ring out across UK as King is crowned’ Julian Perreira, Forces.net, 6 May 2023 ‘Celebratory military gun salutes ring out across UK as King is crowned’ Julian Perreira, Forces.net
(6) King Charles III coronation day– Gun salute, Kings Harbour Master, Portsmouth, Royal Navy website, 6 May 2023 King Charles III coronation day– Gun salute, Kings Harbour Master, Portsmouth, Royal Navy
(7) ‘Police arrest 52 including republicans during King Charles’ coronation’ Andrew Macaskill, Reuters, May 6 2023 ‘Police arrest 52 including republicans during King Charles’ coronation’ Andrew Macaskill, Reuters
(8) ‘Our History’ Prince’s Trust, official website, 8 May 2023 ‘Our History’ Prince’s Trust