A version of this story appeared in the October 14 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on Britain’s royal family. Sign up here.
(With contributions from CNN’s International Climate Editor Angela Dewan.)
As expected, the date has been the source of heavy speculation in the past few weeks. Many hoped for June 2 – 70 years to the day since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – as a symbol of continuity between the reigns.
But, alas, picking a date isn’t as simple as looking at a calendar. It has to be checked against everything else going on to avoid clashes with other major events (the FA Cup soccer final, for example), as well as ensuring the availability of key players like the abbey itself and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who conducts the ceremony.
With the date locked in, attention now turns to the details of the day. The United Kingdom being the only monarchy in Europe that retains the ritual of a coronation, it will be a typically royal occasion, full of the pageantry loved by so many. But, at its heart, it is also a deeply religious ceremony.
While the specifics of next year’s event have yet to be revealed, coronations have stayed largely the same for more than 1,000 years, so we have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
It’s likely to start with the King and Queen Consort traveling to the abbey in procession in the Gold State Coach – seen earlier this year in Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Once Charles and Camilla arrive, Buckingham Palace says, the coronation “will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.”
That line from the palace has been interpreted as a hint that Charles’ coronation will be different from the one his late mother experienced seven decades ago.
Back then, the planning committee orchestrated a grand state affair to introduce the young, somewhat unknown Elizabeth to the world and assert her position as the new monarch. Britain was still emerging from a world war, and it was felt the country needed an elaborate occasion to rally behind.
The ceremony – which was the first royal event to be televised – ran for more than three hours and temporary structures were erected within the abbey to accommodate a swollen guest list of more than 8,000 people.
The core elements of the service were the recognition, oath, anointing, investiture, crowning and homage. The recognition is when the sovereign stands in the theater of the abbey and presents themself to the people. After taking the coronation oath – which is a vow to rule according to law, exercise justice with mercy, and maintain the Church of England – the monarch is anointed with holy oil by the archbishop. This is considered the most sacred part of the service.
The next part is the investiture, when the sovereign is dressed in special coronation robes and presented with the symbols of the monarchy: the orb, coronation ring, scepter and rod. Then St. Edward’s Crown is the placed atop the monarch’s head before royal princes and nobles of the realm make their way to the sovereign to pay their respects.
The occasion will also see the Queen Consort crowned in a similar but smaller ceremony.
Experts say Charles III’s coronation will be a significantly more subdued occasion than his mother’s, with arrangements influenced by the ongoing cost of living crisis in the UK.
“We’re no longer the sort of society we used to be,” says Bob Morris, honorary research fellow at University College London’s Constitution Unit.
It would be “ridiculous for us to have the kind of imperialistic coronation that we had in 1953,” he adds. “Secondly, we’re in the middle of a recession or damn near it. And that’s a very good reason for not splashing the cash.”
Craig Prescott, a lecturer in law at Bangor University in Wales, tells CNN it’s inevitable the event will be adapted and points to the ceremony’s length as one aspect that could be overhauled.
“(The monarchy is) not a museum. It’s a living, breathing part of our constitutional, political and social arrangements, and so in order to be effective, it has to keep in tune with the times,” he explains. “The coronation service has always sort of shifted as time has gone on.”
Prescott continues: “Although (the Queen’s coronation) was televised, it wasn’t a television event in the modern sense … Those organizing it today will have more than one eye on the idea that this will be primarily viewed through television and a lot of it could be speeded up with a more modern, sharper approach.”
Specifically with the service, Morris thinks that feudal elements, like the homage by peers, could be removed entirely.
Meanwhile, Prescott suggests prayers and readings could be pared back, and in doing so make space for “the involvement of the other faiths in the UK.”
“We’ve seen that in other royal events, where you have people from other faiths taking part (and) saying prayers from their own faith backgrounds.”
Regardless of ceremonial modifications, Prescott says next year’s royal set piece promises to be spectacular.
“(The coronation) is new for almost everyone,” he says, adding: “When you think about the monarchy, it’s such an old institution but it’s able to deliver something new.”
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
The Countess of Wessex made royal history this week, becoming the first member of the Windsor clan to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sophie, who is married to King Charles’ youngest brother Edward, visited the country on Monday and Tuesday at the request of the UK Foreign Office. Continuing her years-long work supporting women in conflict, Sophie’s visit focused on “addressing the devastating impact of sexual and gender based violence in conflict, while supporting and empowering survivors and tackling the stigma they face,” according to Buckingham Palace. Following two days of engagements in the DRC, the countess flew to Rwanda, where she met with government ministers about initiatives to empower women and girls in the country. She then headed to the Kigali Memorial, which commemorates those killed in the genocide in 1994. Earlier this year, Charles and Camilla visited the memorial site where a quarter of a million people are interred.
Thursday was yet another busy day for the working Windsors. Up in Glasgow, Scotland, the King visited the Burrell Collection, where he officially reopened what is regarded as one of the world’s greatest single-person art collections after a six-year refurbishment. While the King was at the museum, the Queen Consort was back in London visiting Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where she met domestic abuse frontline staff working on the maternity ward. Shortly after, on the other side of town, the Prince and Princess of Wales traveled to the Copper Box Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for an event with Coach Core. The couple’s Royal Foundation launched the programme in 2012, but a decade later it is an independent charity supporting disadvantaged young people through sport apprenticeships. Meanwhile, Sophie, Countess of Wessex celebrated World Sight Day in Malawi, which last week became the first country in southern Africa to eliminate trachoma, an infectious disease that causes blindness. Sophie has been in Malawi and Botswana this week to see the legacy of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which aims to end avoidable blindness across the Commonwealth and beyond. Since the official royal mourning period ended, all the royals have been showcasing their work with a series of engagements over the past two weeks.
The Princess of Wales made a solo visit to a maternity unit on Wednesday, where she learned about the holistic support the department offers women during and after their pregnancies. During the visit, the princess was photographed cradling “sweet” baby Bianca, who was born six weeks premature. As well as touring the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, which isn’t far from Windsor, and speaking with midwives, Kate also spent time with some of the new moms in the neonatal ward. Kate “was so warm and lovely to speak to,” said 27-year-old Jess Kemp, who gave birth to her baby son Hugo earlier this week, Britain’s PA Media news agency reported. “What a lovely way to introduce the baby (to the world). It’s a lovely thing to tell him when he grows up and to share with family as well,” Kemp added. A day later, the princess joined her husband, Prince William, for a day-long visit to Northern Ireland.
The Duke of Sussex has joined a group of high-profile figures, including singer Elton John, in legal action against the publisher of the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and the Mail Online. The lawsuit accuses Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) of engaging in various means of criminal activity to obtain information on high-profile figures over the years. Elizabeth Hurley, Sadie Frost, David Furnish and Doreen Lawrence make up the rest of the plaintiffs behind the legal action, filed last week. They claim they were “victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy,” according to a statement from their representatives. The group accuses ANL of hiring private investigators to carry out unlawful acts such as planting listening devices in homes and cars and recording private calls. It also claims the publisher would pay corrupt police officials to obtain inside information, engaged in impersonation and deception to obtain medical records, and would hack into bank accounts and financial transactions by “illicit means and manipulation.” CNN has reached out to ANL for comment.
Princess Anne’s stateside surprise.
Corgi owners descended on Buckingham Palace with their pups on Sunday for a heartfelt tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II. One owner who brought her 15-week-old corgi Clive to the royal residence said: “We love the Queen and she’s just been so kind to the breed, and it’s her favorite breed, and we’re just so proud now to own a corgi in memory of the Queen.” Another corgi owner said she thought the Queen had loved the dogs because they are “really loyal and really faithful,” adding they are a “joy to be around.” The Queen is reported to have had more than 30 corgis during her lifetime, with her remaining two going to live with the Duke and Duchess of York after her death. As owners across the country paid their respects to the late monarch in the month since her passing, many have brought their beloved dogs along, while others have left corgi toys and figurines among floral tributes.
King Charles III has delighted British TV fans with news that he will pop up in an upcoming BBC special. He will be making a guest appearance on hit show “The Repair Shop,” where he’ll send two family heirlooms for restoration. The program features a team of craftspeople who repair items their owners thought were beyond saving.
Charles invites host Jay Blades and his team to Dumfries House in Scotland, where he asks them to help restore an 18th-century bracket clock and ceramic pottery made for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
While it’s somewhat surprising to see the King popping up on a TV show (after all, the Queen famously never gave interviews to the press), it should be noted the episode was filmed between fall 2021 and March 2022, when Charles was still the Prince of Wales. If, as monarch, he follows his mother’s lead, this guest appearance could well be the last time we see him interviewed. Read the full story here.