King Charles III’s eagerness to modernise the British monarchy will probably be evident at his coronation ceremony which is likely to be held next summer, a royal commentator has said.
While the new monarch, 73, immediately became sovereign when his mother Queen Elizabeth II died, the elaborate ceremony which will see him take his oaths and be anointed king still lies ahead.
The queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday was watched by 4.1 billion people on TV, according to an estimate by Caroline Beltramo, a television analyst at WatchTVAbroad.com.
The coronation of the king will once again put Britain firmly in the world’s spotlight. A date has yet to be set for the service but a period of several months is expected to pass before it takes place.
Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator who has been studying the monarchy for more than 20 years, told The National the coronation is likely to be held in the summer of 2023.
“It would make sense for it to be held sometime in the summer,” he said. “There will be warmer weather. They won’t want a repeat of 1953. The weather was terrifying.”
The queen’s coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953 — more than a year after she ascended the throne following the sudden and unexpected death of her father King George VI.
Few Britons are old enough to clearly remember the event which made history because it was the first coronation to be broadcast live on TV.
The event drew three million spectators to the streets of London, while an estimated 27 million in Britain watched the event on black-and-white screens at home or at community gatherings.
About 8,000 dignitaries from across the world packed into Westminster Abbey for the occasion, but the king’s big day is likely to be smaller in scale, Mr Fitzwilliams said.
Down through the years, the queen’s eldest son has been known to favour a slimmed-down monarchy and will also be keen to bring “the Firm” more in line with modern Britain now that he is at the helm.
“My suspicion is that if it should be modernised there may be elements that are changed,” Mr Fitzwilliams said. “To what extent it would be changed nobody knows.
“It is likely to be an extremely spectacular occasion.”
Royal courtiers could opt to “adapt the tradition to the modern” when planning the event in a nod to how much Britain has changed since 1953.
While the service is expected to take place at Westminster Abbey and be authentically Christian in nature, representatives of other faiths may play a role, the royal commentator suggested.
But he stressed that the “ritualistic aspects” of the occasion are likely to remain the same.
The ceremony will see the monarch make an oath required by statute, be enthroned and handed the orb — the golden jewelled ball which signifies that the monarch’s power comes from God.
The king will also be anointed with consecrated oil, a part of the ceremony which was deemed too sacred to be broadcast in 1953. He will also be recognised as supreme governor of the Church of England.
His wife Camilla will also be crowned during the event, as queen consort. While a consort shares the rank and status of their spouse they do not have any of their power.
“The interest is going to be seismic,” Mr Fitzwilliams said, noting that the UK is the last major European nation to hold an elaborate event to welcome a new monarch.
“It is an opportunity to put the brand of Great Britain on show for the world and it will provide a window into British life.”
The king’s coronation is expected to be on a royal bank holiday, which may be the last of its kind for some time.
There was a bank holiday in June for the queen’s platinum jubilee, and again for the late monarch’s funeral on Monday, but after the coronation the next one will likely be after the death of the king, or on Prince George's wedding day.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Liz Truss on Tuesday said that planning for the coronation “will take place in preparation for that in conjunction with the palace”.
Asked when the ceremony might happen and whether the government has a say on timing, the spokesman said: “I’m not aware of that.”