The coronation of King Charles III is set to take place this weekend, on Saturday 6 May at Westminster Abbey, London.
Charles, 74, and his wife, Camilla, 75, will be officially crowned king and queen consort of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms.
King Charles III – formerly the Duke of Cornwall, then the Prince of Wales – acceded to the British throne eight months ago, on 8 September 2022, following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
He had been first in the line of succession for 70 years 214 days, making him the longest heir-apparent ever. His record-breaking wait for the throne began when he was three years old, on 6 February 1952, the day his mother became queen.
The record was previously held by Charles's great-great-grandfather Edward VII, who waited for 59 years 73 days to take the throne, eventually doing so on 22 January 1901 upon the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.
As heir-apparent, Charles undertook official duties on behalf of the queen. He completed 10,934 official engagements between 2002 and 2022.
He attended the funerals of foreign dignitaries, officiated at ceremonies and investitures, chaired the Royal Collection Trust meetings three times per year, and represented Queen Elizabeth II at several independence celebrations abroad.
Furthermore, he founded The Prince's Trust, sponsors The Prince’s Charities, and is a patron or member of over 800 other charitable organizations. He is also an avid environmentalist, supporting organic farming and action to prevent global warming.
Charles’s coronation is set to be shorter than his mother’s, which took place in 1953. It has been modified from past coronations to better represent the variety of cultures and communities living in the UK today.
A statement from Buckingham Palace said that His Majesty’s coronation will “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.”
The service will begin in secret with the anointing ceremony, aka the Act of Consecration. This tradition was performed behind closed doors during Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, as will be the case for Charles.
The anointing ceremony is carried out by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who pours holy oil from the Ampulla (an eagle-shaped gold vessel) into the Coronation Spoon, then dips two fingers in and anoints the new monarch on the hands, breast and head; a tradition that dates back to the Old Testament.
Afterwards, Charles’s public crowning and enthronement take place, representing his assumption of the powers and responsibilities that come with being king.
The centrepiece of the moment will be St Edward’s crown, the world’s most valuable crown.
The iconic crown was worn by Queen Elizabeth II throughout her reign, and on Saturday it will be placed atop Charles’s head.
Due to its historical significance, the crown is considered priceless, thus cannot be insured. However, in 2019, CashNetUSA calculated the value of each component part, estimating its overall worth at £3.5 million ($4.5 million).
The crown is made of 22-carat gold and is encrusted with 444 precious or semi-precious stones. The cap within is made of velvet and is trimmed with ermine fur. In total, it weighs 2.23 kg (4.91 lb).
Camilla will be crowned in a shorter ceremony, whereafter she and Charles will travel to Buckingham Palace in a state procession.
They are expected to appear on the palace’s balcony alongside the rest of the Royal Family, concluding the day’s ceremonial events.
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