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King Charles III delivering a speech in May 2022

What happens during a coronation? Your questions answered

Image: King Charles III delivering a speech in May 2022 | Copyright House of Lords 2022 / Photography by Annabel Moeller

It’s a big year in the UK, with the upcoming coronation acting as a further marker of the future of the monarchy and the promise of a more modern approach to the Royal Family. King Charles III became king in September 2022 after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, but his official coronation has yet to take place.

Let’s explore all we know about King Charles III's coronation.

When is the coronation?

The coronation of King Charles III will take place on Saturday, 6th May 2023, eight months on from his ascension last year. This is the first time a monarch has been coronated at the weekend since Edward VII in 1902.

We have yet to be told the specific timing for King Charles III’s coronation, but Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 lasted three hours.

Is there a bank holiday for the coronation?

The government has confirmed the UK will enjoy an additional bank holiday to celebrate the crowning of King Charles III. Monday, 8th May will be the official bank holiday to commemorate the historic event.

Where does the coronation take place?

Westminster Abbey has been used for British coronations since 1066 and so it has historical importance for the Royal Family. Charles will become the 40th British monarch to be crowned at the iconic building in the last 950 years.

What happens during a coronation ceremony?

The coronation ceremony has a very specific order to follow. King Charles and Queen Camilla will arrive from Buckingham Palace in the traditional Gold State Coach after travelling through the streets of London with thousands of well-wishers watching on. As they reach the Abbey, it’s time for the King’s Procession, as they pass by heads of state, representatives of the Houses of Commons and Lords, archbishops, and bishops.

Once inside, there are five stages of the coronation ceremony:

Stage One: The Recognition

Standing next to the Coronation Chair, the Archbishop of Canterbury will present the monarch-to-be to the congregation. They will chant ‘God Save the King!’ and regal trumpets will then sound.

Stage Two: The Oath

The King will swear to uphold the law and the Church of England. However, there is speculation that this part of the ceremony may be altered slightly to reflect the cultural diversity of the UK in the 21st century.

Stage Three: The Anointing

The King will remove his ceremonial robe and sit in the Coronation Chair. A canopy of gold cloth will conceal the King from view as the Archbishop anoints his head, chest and hands with holy oil.

Stage Four: The Investiture

The King is presented with significant items including the Royal Orb and the Sovereign’s Sceptre. Finally, the crown will be placed upon his head.

Stage Five: The enthronement and homage

The King will then rise from the Coronation Chair and sit on the throne. Once seated, peers will kneel and pay their respects. The procedure is then repeated for the Queen.

After the service, the King and Queen will return to Buckingham Palace. The procession is even more elaborate and known as The Coronation Procession. Once they arrive back at the Palace they will then appear on the balcony with other members of the Royal Family.

Watch the coronation on TV

The coronation is an international event and will be broadcast across BBC channels. The BBC will broadcast the coronation live with TV and radio coverage. There will also be coverage broadcast on Sky News and ITV.

Fascinating facts about King Charles III’s coronation

1. The King has selected his own music

King Charles III has been heavily involved in organising his own coronation and has personally chosen all the music. There will be twelve newly commissioned pieces including a highly anticipated new piece from Andrew Lloyd Webber.

2. Community representation at the coronation

The coronation is a state affair, with the government in charge of the guest list. It is mainly made up of the Royal Family themselves, heads of state from other nations and members of the UK Parliament. There will also be over 850 community representatives and key workers attending the ceremony as a thank you for their contribution to the country.

3. Traditional crowns only worn during coronations

The King will be crowned with a solid gold 17th-century crown known as St. Edward’s Crown. It is exceptionally heavy and only worn in these circumstances. The traditional crown worn by the queen is changing this year, due to controversy around the gemstones used to make it. Queen Camilla will be crowned with Queen Mary’s Crown, first used in 1911 for Queen Mary of Teck.

4. A modern coronation for a modern king

In a plan which is believed to have the code name Operation Golden Orb, King Charles III’s coronation should reflect his vision for a smaller, more modern monarchy. The ceremony is likely to be much shorter and the focus will be on a modern approach to this historic institution.