What will happen at King Charles's coronation? A step-by-step guide

Coronation will take place eight months after Charles became king

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Prince Charles became king as soon as Queen Elizabeth II died.

Despite the obvious grief of losing his mother, he had to compose himself to take on the immediate duties of a monarch, which included standing vigil at the queen's lying in state, a proclamation ceremony, visiting each country of the United Kingdom and of course leading mourners at the queen's funeral.

But his coronation will not take place until next year, creating a suitable period between the sorrowful scene of a sovereign's funeral and the celebrations of the next generation acceding the throne.

The crowning of a monarch is one of Britain's most ancient ceremonies, and is deeply religious and steeped in regalia, such as the Crown Jewels.

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 was one of the defining moments of the 20th century. King Charles's coronation will be shorter and on a smaller scale but will still retain the pageantry and tradition that was on display with such aplomb at the queen's funeral.

Buckingham Palace has released details of the coronation.

Here is what is expected to happen:

When is King Charles's coronation?

It will take place on May 6 next year. The coronation of the new sovereign traditionally takes place some months after accession to the throne, after a period of national and royal mourning as well as allowing time for the preparation required for the ceremony. The Duke of Norfolk, who organised the queen’s funeral, also has the role of staging the coronation.

Where will King Charles's coronation take place?

It will be held at Westminster Abbey, the setting for Queen Elizabeth's funeral. For the last 900 years, the ceremony has taken place at the abbey in the heart of London. Since 1066, the service has almost always been conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

How will King Charles's coronation play out?

There are six basic phases to the coronation: The recognition, the oath, the anointing, the investiture which includes the crowning, the enthronement and the homage.

Here is what is expected at the king’s coronation:

– Recognition

This rite dates back to ancient procedures of the Witan — the supreme council of England in Anglo-Saxon times.

The sovereign stands in the theatre — the central space in Westminster Abbey — and turns to show himself “unto the people” at each of the four directions — east, south, west and north.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will proclaim Charles the “undoubted King” and ask the congregation and choir to show their homage and service by crying out “God Save King Charles”, with the order of service urging them to do so with “willingness and joy”.

– Coronation Oath

The form and wording of the oath has varied over the centuries. The king will promise to reign according to law, exercise justice with mercy and maintain the Church of England.

The king, with the Sword of State carried before him, will go to the altar and declare: “The things which I have here before promised, I will perform, and keep. So help me God.” He will kiss the Bible and sign the Oath.

– The Anointing

After the oath, the sovereign is then “anointed, blessed and consecrated” by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The anointing with holy oil is the central act of the religious ceremony.

The king will remove his crimson robe and sit in King Edward’s chair, which was made in 1300 and has been used by every monarch since 1626, under a canopy of silk or cloth of gold held by four Knights of the Garter.

Queen Elizabeth II holding her symbols of office after the crowning ceremony in 1953.  Getty Images

The archbishop will use the golden eagle-shaped ampulla — which pours the oil from its beak — and the 12th-century, silver-gilt, anointing spoon which is the most ancient treasure of the Crown Jewels, to anoint the King in the form of a cross.

Traditionally the choir sings the anthem Zadok The Priest as the anointing is carried out.

Under the chair is expected to be the Stone of Destiny. The ancient, sacred symbol of Scotland’s monarchy, which was once captured by King Edward I of England, now leaves Edinburgh Castle only for coronations.

– Investiture including the Crowning

Having been sanctified, the sovereign puts on a sleeveless white garment — the Colobium Sindonis — and then a robe of cloth of gold — the Supertunica.

The king is presented with a jewelled sword and the golden spurs — the symbol of chivalry — and the armills – golden bracelets of sincerity and wisdom.

King Charles walks behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey during her state funeral. Getty Images

He will put on the Robe Royal of gold cloth and be presented with the orb, the coronation ring on the fourth finger of his right hand, the sceptre and the rod.

Then Charles, sitting in King Edward’s chair, will be crowned by the archbishop with St Edward’s Crown, with the congregation shouting out “God Save the King”.

– Enthroning

After a blessing, the king will go to his throne and be “lifted up into it by the archbishops and bishops, and other peers of the kingdom”.

– Homage

The archbishop, royal blood princes — likely to include the Prince of Wales — and senior peers pay homage to the monarch, placing their hands between the king’s and swearing allegiance, touching the crown and kissing the king’s right hand. The House of Commons does not pay homage.

The Queen’s Coronation

Queen Consort Camilla will also be crowned, in a similar but simpler ceremony which follows the homage.

After the then Prince Charles’s marriage to Camilla, the royal family’s website added the get-out clause “unless decided otherwise” to the phrase: “A queen consort is crowned with the king, in a similar but simpler ceremony.”

Queen Elizabeth II's 70-year reign - in pictures

At George VI’s coronation, his wife Elizabeth (who became known in later years as the queen mother) was anointed and crowned.

She knelt down with the archbishop pouring holy oil on the crown of her head, the Queen’s Ring was placed on her hand and her crown on her head.

Her coronation crown was made especially for the 1937 coronation and features the famous but controversial Koh-i-noor diamond.

She was presented with a sceptre and ivory rod with the dove, before rising to sit in her own throne, after bowing “reverently” to her husband.

King Charles III through the years – in pictures

Updated: October 11, 2022, 5:43 PM
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