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Coronation Special - April/May 23

A Thoroughly Modern Monarch

Everything we know about His Majesty’s upcoming coronation.

King Charles III's coronation will take place on Saturday 6th May 2023 at Westminster Abbey. Eyes around the world will focus their attention once more on this magnificent London institution where the King will be crowned – alongside Camilla, the Queen Consort – in a ceremony overseen by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This opulent ritual is the last of its kind in Europe and has remained largely unchanged for the past 1,000 years. It is an honour of course, but for a King who wants to be a modern monarch there are a few wrinkles that must be ironed out with Buckingham Palace confirming that although the Coronation will be ‘rooted in long-standing traditions’, it will also reflect the monarch's role today and look towards the future.

For starters, it will be a relatively modest affair, even compared to Queen Elizabeth’s coronation that came in the recent aftermath of World War II. The ceremony itself is expected to last around two hours, rather than the three hours for Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne, and guests will be limited to 2,000 due to health and safety restrictions. That’s considerably less than the 8,000 dignitaries from 129 nations who were crammed into Westminster Abbey in 1953.

There will also be less pomp and formality. Prince William is the only Duke expected to carry out the traditional gesture of kneeling and swearing allegiance to the King, and His Majesty has apparently decided to swap the stockings and breeches worn at coronations by his male predecessors for a military uniform, possibly that of Admiral of the Fleet, which he wore for the State Opening of Parliament last May.

As for the crown, Charles will wear the solid gold 17th Century St Edward's Crown. It is exceptionally heavy and contains the Cullinan II diamond, sometimes called the Second Star of Africa.

At its heart however, the ceremony must fulfil its key role as being the symbolic religious ceremony during which a sovereign is crowned, as well as fulfilling the physical act of placing a crown on a monarch's head. And despite cementing His Majesty’s role as Head of the Church of England, it is thought that representatives of different faiths will also be present – to uphold the King's wish to reflect the ethnic diversity of modern Britain. He will also still pledge to be “Defender of the Faith”, but further words will be added that allow the King to show he serves all religious faiths.