Whether out of love for Britain’s monarchy or mere fascination with the nation’s most recognizable family, millions of eyes will be on King Charles’ coronation on May 6.
The newly appointed sovereign ascended the throne following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II last September. Now, he is due to be crowned alongside Camilla, Queen Consort, during a symbolic ceremony at Westminster Abbey, which will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The following day will be marked by a number of celebrations, including street parties and an evening concert. Pubs and bars will be allowed to remain open for two extra hours in the U.K., and Monday will be observed as a national holiday.
Buckingham Palace has said the event will be modernized to reflect the monarchy’s present-day role but will still retain the “longstanding traditions and pageantry” seen at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953. A guest list of 2,200 people will get to see up-close what’s in store once the event kicks off next month.
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Here’s everything we know about the coronation’s schedule so far.
Saturday, May 6
For enthusiastic early risers looking to secure an unobstructed view of the King, viewing areas in central London will be open as early as 6 a.m.
Doors open to the general congregation at Westminister Abbey, and guests forming the 2,000 person congregation begin arriving after passing through airport-style security checkpoints.
9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
The congregation will take their seats. World leaders, British politicians, and international royals, will also start to arrive at the Abbey.
As guests assemble, the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry will prepare for the King’s Procession from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey.
A procession of faith leaders takes place through Westminster Abbey.
A procession of Commonwealth Realms through Westminster Abbey.
10.20 a.m.: The King’s Procession
Charles will travel with Queen Camilla from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey—for 900 years, monarchs have been crowned at the London landmark. The route they will undertake is called “The King’s Procession.”
The royal couple will be traveling in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, a carriage with surprisingly up to date modifications such as air conditioning and electric windows.
The procession will include just under 200 members of the Armed Forces.
The Prince and Princess of Wales, along with Prince George of Wales, Princess Charlotte of Wales, and Prince Louis of Wales arrive at Westminster Abbey.
If all goes according to meticulous plan, the King and Queen Consort will arrive seven minutes before they are due inside the Abbey.
11 a.m.: King and Queen Consort’s coronation ceremony
The coronation ceremony is due to start at 11 a.m. and will last just over an hour, compared to the three hour duration of Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 event.
Inside the Abbey, Charles will be seated in the Coronation Chair, or Edward’s Chair, and he will be holding the sovereign’s scepter—a gold rod with amethyst monde, diamonds, rubies, spinels, and emeralds—which represents control over the nation. He will also have the sovereign’s orb, a golden globe with a cross on top.
The ceremony will involve a number of steps.
The first thing that will happen in the Abbey is the recognition of the monarch, which is led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Charles will stand beside the chair and be shown to attendees before the Archbishop calls on them to recognize the monarch by saying, “Sirs, I here present unto you King Charles, your undoubted King. Wherefore all you who are come this day to do your homage and service, are you willing to do the same?”
The congregation will respond: “God Save The King.”
Charles will be asked during the ceremony if he will govern the U.K. and the Commonwealth with law and justice and if he will maintain Christianity in the nation.
But the monarch is also taking steps to act as a defender of all faiths and include other religious groups in the event. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who observes Hinduism, will deliver a reading from the Bible.
Charles will then proceed to the altar to make his oath by resting his hand on the Bible and proclaiming: “The things which I have here before promised. I will perform and keep. So help me God.” He will then kiss the Bible before signing the Oath.
During the ceremony, Charles will be anointed with chrism oil that was made in Jerusalem in March using olives harvested from two groves on the Mount of Olives, at the Monastery of Mary Magdalene and the Monastery of the Ascension.
Using the coronation spoon, the Archbishop will pour oil on Charles’ hands, chest, and head. The tradition is performed to reinforce the divine right of the monarch. Charles will be anointed out of sight and behind a screen rather than a canopy like the one used by Queen Elizabeth in 1953.
Charles will clothe himself in the Colobium Sindonis, a pure white garment worn during his anointing, and the supertunica, a full-length and gold silk coat. He will then be presented with various regalia to symbolize different virtues and blessings.
St Edward’s Crown—a solid gold headpiece adorned by over 400 gemstones, including rubies and sapphires—will be placed on Charles’ head. The crown, which is only used for the moment of crowning, dates back to the coronation of Charles II in 1661.
At the moment of crowning, gun salutes will be fired from military bases across the U.K. to mark the historic moment.
Once he has been crowned, Charles will be moved from the coronation chair to the throne and the Archbishop will deliver a prayer.
At this point in the ceremony, the British public will be invited to make their own oath of loyalty to the monarch. Willing observers will declare the words “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to your majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.” The oath is known as the Homage of the People.
Queen Consort’s crowning
Camilla will then be anointed, invested, and crowned with Queen Mary’s Crown, which has been reset with the Cullinan III, IV, and V diamonds from Queen Elizabeth II’s personal jewelry collection. She will do this in full view with no canopy to shield her, marking a break from royal tradition.
1 p.m.: Coronation Procession
Following the ceremony, Charles and Camilla will depart Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach and undertake ‘The Coronation Procession,” a 1.3 mile journey back to Buckingham palace. Members of the public are likely to line the streets of the procession route to catch a glimpse of the newly crowned monarch.
The second procession will feature almost 4,000 military personnel including Armed Forces from across the Commonwealth and the British Overseas Territories, and all Services of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, alongside The Sovereign’s Bodyguard and Royal Watermen.
1.45 p.m.: Royal salute
Charles and Camilla will receive a royal salute and three cheers on the West Terrace of the Buckingham Palace garden.
2:15 p.m.: Fly-past
Members of the royal family are then expected to appear on the palace balcony and wave to spectators as they observe the fly-past display performed by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, and British Army using over 60 aircraft.
Sunday, May 7
12 p.m.: Coronation Big Lunch
On the day after the coronation, communities have been encouraged to host coronation lunches and street parties with their neighbors. The Big Lunch initiative has been organized by the Eden Project, a cause that Camilla has been a patron of since 2013. The project aims to bring people together to reduce loneliness and promote community spirit.
The King and Queen have “personally chosen” a French-inspired quiche—featuring spinach, broad beans, cheese, and tarragon—as the dish to mark their Coronation. The U.K. government announced that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wll host his own street lunch to host community volunteers from across the country.
After lunch, any ticket holders for the coronation concert will be able to make their way over to Windsor Castle from 3 p.m. The evening concert will take place on the East Lawn of Windsor Castle, marking the first time a concert has been held on the castle grounds.
7 p.m.: Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle
The musical event is set to kick off at 7 p.m. Buckingham Palace has confirmed that the headliners will include Take That, Lionel Ritchie, Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, and Katy Perry—who is an ambassador of the British Asian Trust, a charity fronted by Charles.
Other confirmed acts are Paloma Faith, Nicole Scherzinger, and Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise, Sir Tom Jones, Ncuti Gatwa, Dame Joan Collins, Bear Grylls, and others will make video or in-person appearances.
Additionally, the official Coronation Choir—formed of amateur British choir groups— will also perform. During the concert, major U.K. landmarks will be illuminated with projections, lasers, and drone displays as the country is lit up to celebrate King Charles.
Around 10,000 tickets have been allocated to the British public via a geographical ballot, and an additional 57 locations will broadcast the concert on big screens around the country—the venues include Cardiff Castle, Belfast City Hall, and Picadilly Gardens in Manchester, as well as London’s Hyde Park, Green Park, and St James’s Park.
Monday, May 8
The Big Help Out
While many Brits will be able to enjoy a one-off bonus public holiday on the first Monday after the coronation, elected charity groups will take part in a community initiative known as The Big Help Out. Partners will include The Scouts, the Royal Voluntary Service, and faith groups from across the U.K.
As a tribute to the king, the initiative will encourage people to support their local community and volunteer.
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