What’s that noise you can hear in the distance? Yep, it’s the march of hundreds of thousands of diehard monarchists and other curious people heading towards Pall Mall and Whitehall to catch a glimpse of King Charles III.
Today is the big day: although he’s officially be in the job since the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September, the coronation will finally take place this weekend. Took your time, mate. And so what exactly can we expect? In short, three days full of pomp, ceremony and general good times (as tends to happen whenever there’s a royal bank holiday).
The festivities kick off on Saturday, May 6, and continue throughout the weekend, with a special day off to top it all off. As you’d expect, there’s a helluva lot of extravagant stuff going on. Among other things, royal enthusiasts will get to enjoy two epic processions, a religious service and a star-studded concert at Windsor Castle.
Sunday’s concert will see a line-up packed with stars like Take That, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie plus a whole load of other big names (hello, Tom Cruise) appearing on screen. An official Coronation Choir, made up of amateur groups from across the UK, will also perform and there will be a ‘lighting up the nation’ moment during the gig, during which major UK landmarks will be illuminated with projections, lasers, drone displays and other cool illuminations. Monday, the bank holiday, is being dubbed The Big Help Out, with Brits being encouraged to volunteer in their local community.
With the landmark event mere days away, here’s everything you need to know about King Charles III’s coronation weekend and timetable.
What’s King Charles’s coronation date?
The coronation will take place this Saturday, May 6 – eight months on from his automatic appointment as King on September 8 last year.
This is the first time a coronation ceremony is taking place on a weekend since 1902 when Edward VII was crowned King.
When is the bank holiday for the coronation?
It has been confirmed that we will get a bank holiday to mark the occasion. As the coronation itself will fall on a Saturday, the bank holiday will take place on Monday, May 8 2023, two days after the service at Westminster Abbey.
Charles has encouraged members of the public to use this day to donate their time to local charities. You can find out how to volunteer here.
Where will the coronation take place?
The ceremony will be held at Westminster Abbey and will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury (as it has done since 1066). It will also see Camilla being crowned Queen.
Before this, the pair will travel from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach as part of the King’s Procession. They will travel down The Mall via Admiralty Arch, turn to go through Whitehall and then around the east and south sides of Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary.
Despite its very traditional look, the carriage actually includes air conditioning, electric windows and up-to-date suspension, making it far more comfortable than the Gold State Coach, which they will be travelling back to the palace in.
What’s the timetable for the coronation? When will the King be crowned?
6am Public viewing areas will open along the main procession route, down the Mall and through Whitehall.
7.15am Westminster Abbey guests start to arrive for security checks.
9am The congregation will begin to be seated inside Westminster Abbey.
9.30am Members of the royal family, heads of state and former prime ministers are scheduled to start arriving.
9.45am The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry will assemble for the royal procession.
10.20am The King and Queen will set off from Buckingham Palace to begin the royal procession to Westminster Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach.
11am Charles and Camilla are expected to arrive at the abbey. The religious ceremony will begin and once Charles has been anointed (in secret) and takes to the historic coronation chair, Camilla will be anointed and crowned in a shorter ceremony.
1pm The second procession takes place as the royals travel back to the palace.
1.45pm The Royal Salute will take place in which the King and Queen are saluted on the West Terrace of Buckingham Palace’s garden.
2.15pm Fifteen members of the royal family will congregate on the iconic Buckingham Palace balcony to watch the flypast, made up of aircrafts from the British Armed Forces.
Check out a full timetable for the weekend here.
RECOMMENDED: What time is the coronation flypast?
What will happen during the coronation ceremony?
As per tradition, the ceremony will see the monarch pledge to be ‘defender of the faith’ in the coronation oath, but officials also plan to add a few more words which will reflect Britain’s ethnic diversity and show that the King recognises his service to all religions.
Charles will then be anointed, blessed and consecrated by the Archbishop and receive the orb and sceptres before St Edward’s Crown is placed on his head. This will officially make him King Charles III.
A brief ceremony to crown Queen Camilla will follow.
During the ceremony. Greek Orthodox music will be played by the Byzantine Chant Ensemble in tribute to the late Duke of Edinburgh. Andrew Lloyd Webber has been commissioned to compose the coronation anthem, which will be one of 12 musical pieces personally selected by the King to play during the ceremony.
More than 8,000 guests were present at the Queen’s coronation, including politicians, representatives of the Church and the State, and leaders from around the Commonwealth. King Charles’s coronation is limited to 2,000 for health and safety reasons and only a minority of MPs and peers will be invited.
The royal family’s website says the coronation is ‘an occasion for pageantry and celebration, but it is also a solemn religious ceremony, [and] has remained essentially the same over a thousand years’.
What crown will King Charles wear?
Charles will wear St Edward’s Crown for his coronation at Westminster Abbey on May 6. It is solid gold and decorated with more than 400 gemstones including rubies and sapphires. It is the only time in his life that he will wear this particular crown.
It will then be swapped for the Imperial State Crown before the end of the ceremony and wear that as he and the Queen return back to the palace in the Gold State Coach.
Will there be a coronation medal?
Each monarch has a medal which is given to members of the royal family and other selected members of the household and state, as well as public servants, mayors, army, police and more. King Charles III’s medal will be issued following the coronation.
Can I attend the coronation?
Sadly, us regular folk can’t actually go inside the abbey for the coronation. You have to be a notable person with an official invitation.
However, there will be a public 1.3 mile-procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey to mark the occasion. There’s no ticketing involved here, but you’ll have to plan in advance to get a prime spot and catch a glimpse of the monarch.
Can I enter the coronation concert ballot?
Not any more. The BBC’s ballot, which will see several thousand members of the public receive a pair of free tickets, closed on February 28.
Will the coronation be shown on TV?
The coronation will be broadcast live on TV all over the world.
Channels across the BBC network (BBC One, Two and iPlayer) will broadcast live from the ceremony. Radio coverage is expected on Radio 2, Radio 4, 5 Live, Radio 3, World Service and BBC Sounds. The BBC is apparently even set to waive its licence fee for the weekend.
The broadcaster has confirmed that coverage will be anchored by Kirsty Young, while Huw Edwards presents from the doors of Westminster Abbey, Sophie Raworth speaks to guests, Clare Balding commentates for the ceremonial route and Anita Rani reports from the crowd outside.
ITV1 and Sky News will also provide extensive coverage of the ceremony and its processions. Viewers can also stream the event on ITVX or the Sky News YouTube channel.
Will Prince Harry attend his father’s coronation?
Prince Harry will be attending the coronation, but Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, will stay in California, says Buckingham Palace. Since he is no longer a working member of the royal family, he won’t be playing a prominent role like his brother, Prince William.
The decision for Meghan not to attend will be viewed in the context of ongoing tensions between the couple and the rest of the royal family following the publication of Harry’s memoir ‘Spare’ earlier this year.
Why was May 6 chosen as the coronation date?
The date was chosen after being agreed upon by the government, the Church of England and the royal household. However, there are apparently several symbolic reasons why Charles may have chosen it. May 6 is also the date of his grandson Archie’s birthday and the late Princess Margaret’s – the Queen’s sister’s – wedding anniversary.
Read more: here’s how you can volunteer for the King’s coronation.
Plus: here’s where to watch the King’s coronation on a big screen.