King Charles III Coronation: Everything We Know So Far

King Charles's coronation plans—codenamed 'Operation Golden Orb'—have been revisited regularly for years.
January 21, 2023
5 mins read

Queen Elizabeth II died Sept. 8, 2022, at the age of 96, and has been succeeded to the throne by her 74-year-old son, Charles.

Charles became king the instant his mother passed away and announced that his regnal name would be Charles III.

But what happens now?

Related: Prince Harry and Meghan’s Children Get New Titles

When is King Charles’s coronation?

King Charles’ coronation ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 6, 2023, and a concert will follow that Sunday

The queen didn’t have her own coronation until June 2, 1953, more than a year after she became queen after her father King George VI died on Feb. 6, 1952.

According to the Daily Mail, plans for Charles’ coronation are codenamed “Operation Golden Orb.”

Back in February 2022, it was reported that Charles would prefer a more streamlined coronation service than the lavish spectacle that surrounded his mother’s crowning. Buckingham Palace said in a statement that the ceremony will be “rooted in longstanding traditions” but that it will also “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future.”

A relatively shorter, cheaper coronation would be more in keeping with an escalating cost-of-living crisis in the UK, with many citizens expected to have to choose between food and heating this winter.

Related: Queen Elizabeth’s Family Tree—All About the British Royals’ Lineage, From Prince Charles to Lucas Tindall

Where will King Charles’s coronation take place?

King Charles’ coronation ceremony will take place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, May 6, 2023. On Sunday, May 7, a star-studded concert at Windsor Castle will celebrate the new king and be broadcast on BBC. On Monday, May 8, “members of the public will be invited to take part in The Big Help Out, which will encourage people to try volunteering for themselves and join the work being undertaken to support their local areas,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

How to watch and stream the coronation?

The BBC will broadcast the coronation concert, which will also stream on the outlet’s website. As for the coronation ceremony, it will likely air on most news channels and stream on their respective sites and apps.

What happens during a coronation?

Charles will take an oath in front of 2,000 people in the abbey (and countless millions watching on TV worldwide) and will be anointed.

There are typically six stages to the service:

  • The recognition: The monarch will be presented to those gathered in the Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The congregation will shout, “God Save the King!” and trumpets will sound
  • The oath: The sovereign then swears to uphold the law and the Church of England
  • The anointing: The actual anointing bit is supposed to be sacred and mysterious, and for the queen’s anointing in 1953 a golden canopy was lifted by four Knights of the Garter to shield her consecration from the cameras. 
    Using an Ampulla—a sold gold flask in the shape of an eagle—the archbishop anointed the queen with a “blessed oil” of orange flowers, roses, cinnamon, musk and ambergris. The Archbishop will anoint the King’s hands, breast and head with holy oil.
    This was the moment in which the king will be seen to be consecrated by god to rule over his people.
  • The investiture: The sovereign will then return to the Coronation Chair to be presented with items including the Royal Orb, the Sceptre and the Sovereign’s Sceptre. At the conclusion, the Archbishop will place the extremely heavy St Edward’s Crown on his head.
  • The enthronement and homage: The King will leave the Coronation Chair and move to the throne.

Related: The Real Story Behind the Most Beautiful Royal Tiaras

How to participate in the coronation

In line with King Charles’ desire for his coronation to be rooted in tradition, any heirs to those who performed ceremonial roles in Queen Elizabeth’s coronation are invited to participate in the king’s ceremony.

To that end, a Coronation Claims Office has been created within the Cabinet Office to consider claims to perform an historic or ceremonial role.

This replaces the Court of Claims, which fulfilled a similar role for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953.

When looking at claims, the Coronation Claims Office will consider matters including whether the role or service was performed in 1953 or not, what the basis is for it to be performed now and the claimant’s connection to those who previously performed the role or service.

Officials from the Coronation Claims Office will consult with ecclesiastical experts from Lambeth Palace and ceremonial experts from the Royal Household when considering claims.

The deadline to submit claims is 5.30 p.m. on Feb. 3, 2023.

Who will attend King Charles’ coronation?

King Charles’ coronation is a state event, which means the government controls the guest list.

In addition to members of the royal family—it’s up in the air whether Prince Harry will attend—the prime minister, representatives from the Houses of Parliament, heads of state, and other royals from around the world will likely attend.

Westminster Abbey seats approximately 2,200 so that will likely be the max attendees for this sacred event.

Will Camilla be crowned queen?

Yes, Camilla will be anointed and crowned queen alongside Charles. Her official title is queen consort.

As a male consort, the queen’s husband Prince Philip was not entitled to be crowned. Instead, he knelt before his wife during her coronation ceremony and pledged to be her “liege man of life and limb.”

What crown will King Charles wear?

Town & Country says that no matter how much King Charles desires a slimmed-down coronation, the role of jewels in the ceremony isn’t optional.

At the climax of the ceremony, he will be crowned with the 17th Century St Edward’s Crown, a solid gold headpiece featuring 444 gemstones.

The precious stones embedded in the crown include 345 rose-cut aquamarines, 37 white topazes, 27 tourmalines, 12 rubies, 7 amethysts, 6 sapphires, and 1 garnet. It is exceptionally heavy at 4.9 pounds and is typically only used at the moment of crowning.

Queen Elizabeth II wore it just once in her lifetime, for her own coronation.

Related: Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral Date, Location and More Details

What scepter will King Charles use?

In addition, Charles will hold a scepter with a controversial past—it’s set with part of what was once the world’s largest diamond, the “Star of Africa.” Other pieces of the diamond are set in the Imperial State Crown. 

The diamond was mined in South Africa in 1905. In recent times there have been calls for its return to the county where it was found.

Charles will also hold the royal orb, a “Christian symbol of authority from the Middle Ages and a reminder that the monarch’s power is derived from God,” according to T&C.

When Charles returns to Buckingham Palace following his coronation at Westminster Abbey, he will wave to the assembled crowd from the palace balcony. At this point he’ll be wearing the aforementioned Imperial State Crown. It’s set with the famous Black Prince Ruby (actually a spinel from Sri Lanka) and a 104-carat sapphire.

Related: Queen Elizabeth Beams Wearing Black Prince Ruby

What crown will Camilla wear?

Meanwhile it’s been reported that Camilla will wear the Queen Mother’s Koh-i-Noor crown, another headpiece steeped in controversy. 

Its 105.6 carat diamond, the Koh-i-Noor diamond, came into Queen Victoria’s possession in 1851 during British colonial rule in India. It was surrendered to the monarch by the Maharajah of Lahore.

There are calls for its return to India.

Will the coronation day be a bank holiday?

Yes! Monday, May 8 will be a bank holiday across the U.K.

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