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King Charles III's coronation: Live updates

Here's what to know about the pomp and circumstance of the event.
/ Source: TODAY

The coronation of King Charles III, the United Kingdom's first in 70 years, is a ceremony eight months — but really a lifetime — in the making.

Following the death in September of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at age 96, Charles automatically ascended the throne — so many may wonder: What is the significance of a coronation? Well, it all comes down to tradition.

The coronation, a religious and historic ceremony, is the act of crowning a new monarch. Think of it as a wedding: A formal ritual with familiar components, which Charles may choose to modify. Those modifications will be symbolic and representative of his approach to his role.

"Legally, it's an obligation for a monarch to take oaths formally to become king. But it's much more than that," royal expert Daisy McAndrew tells The coronation is an act of diplomacy, she says, and a chance to "stamp the king's character on the national and global stage."

This is, to put it simply, King Charles III's moment.

Charles joins a line of 39 other sovereigns to be crowned at Westminster Abbey, the setting for every coronation of a British sovereign since William the Conquerer was crowned in 1066. 

Queen Elizabeth's coronation took place in June 1953 when she was 27, though she had been queen already since she was 25. Hers made history because it was the first to be televised. 

Elizabeth, during her coronation, explained the significance of the ancient rites and rituals and why she was sharing them to the public. Her words echo today — especially as her son continues her legacy by opening up more of the rituals. (His was the first ascension ceremony ever televised.)

"The ceremonies you have seen today are ancient, and some of their origins are veiled in the mists of the past," she had said. "But their spirit and their meaning shine through the ages … Many thousands of you came to London from all parts of the Commonwealth and Empire to join in the ceremony, but I have been conscious too of the millions of others who have shared in it by means of wireless or television in their homes. All of you, near or far, have been united in one purpose. It is hard for me to find words in which to tell you of the strength which this knowledge has given me."

Here’s what to know about viewing these ceremonies, and what they mean in 2023.

28d ago / 2:14 PM UTC

Another glimpse of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in their crowns

King Charles III wears the Imperial State Crown and Queen Camilla wears Queen Mary's Crown while standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla
Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave to the crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the coronation ceremony in London, Saturday, May 6, 2023.Frank Augstein / AP
28d ago / 1:40 PM UTC

The royal family has its balcony moment

Charles and Camilla were joined by the pages of honor and other working royal family members on the balcony. Conspicuously absent were Prince Harry and Prince Andrew.

28d ago / 12:55 PM UTC

President Joe Biden tweets congratulations

Following the coronation, President Joe Biden, who was not in attendance, tweeted his congratulations.

"Congratulations to King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their Coronation. The enduring friendship between the U.S. and the U.K. is a source of strength for both our peoples," he wrote.

"I am proud the First Lady is representing the United States for this historic occasion."

28d ago / 12:53 PM UTC

The king and queen receive a royal salute

After the coronation ceremony, the king and queen received a royal salute from gathered troops.

28d ago / 12:41 PM UTC

Catherine, Duchess of Wales pays homage to Princess Diana with her earrings

The current Princess of Wales made a nod to the previous one with her jewelry at the coronation.

She's donning pearl and diamond earrings belonging to Diana, Princess of Wales.

She is also wearing a Jess Collett x Alexander McQueen Headpiece with silver bullion, crystal and silver thread work three-dimensional leaf embroidery, matching with her daughter.

Her dress is an Alexander McQueen dress in ivory silk crepe with silver bullion and thread work embroidery featuring rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock motifs.

Kate has previously paid homage to her late mother-in-law through style at other royal events.

Their Majesties King Charles III And Queen Camilla - Coronation Day
Kate wears Princess Diana's earrings.WPA Pool / Getty Images
28d ago / 12:04 PM UTC

Newly coronated, the king and queen leave Westminster Abbey

To the peals of bells ringing, King Charles III and Queen Camilla step out of Westminster Abbey in full royal regalia to begin their procession back to Buckingham Palace in a Gold State Coach.

28d ago / 11:15 AM UTC

The story behind Camilla's crown

There are a few major differences between Charles and Camilla’s coronation ceremonies. Whereas Charles was anointed behind a screen, Camilla’s anointing happens in public. 

Camilla will also be presented with Queen Mary’s crown, marking the first time a queen consort’s crown has been “recycled,” rather than commissioned and made new, per the palace.

The State Crown Of Queen Mary
Queen Mary's crown.GraphicaArtis / Getty Images

Made in 1911, the crown has a silver and gold frame and over 2,000 diamonds, per the Royal Collection Trust.

Following her anointing, Camilla will also receive a ruby ring, made in 1831 for the consort of King William IV, Queen Adelaide, to symbolize her promise to her role and spouse. Past queen consorts, including Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, used Queen Adelaide’s ring.

28d ago / 11:13 AM UTC

King Charles III has been crowned

At about 12:15 BST, King Charles III's ceremony was complete.

28d ago / 11:12 AM UTC

Prince William bows as Charles' liegeman

Prince William swore his loyalty to his father after he was crowned. He made his pledge by touching St Edward’s Crown and kissing Charles on the right cheek.

28d ago / 11:02 AM UTC

Inside Charles' crown: Make that two!

Charles has just been crowned.

There are two crowns used during Charles' coronation.

During the investiture, St. Edwards Crown will be placed atop Charles’ head. The five-pound crown was originally made for Charles II’s coronation following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, per the Royal Collection Trust. It is a replacement for a medieval crown, which was destroyed after Charles I was executed by Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians when the monarchy was abolished in 1949.

St Edward's crown in London on July 1, 1995.
St Edward's Crown. Alain Benainous / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In terms of the jewels? Expect to see rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnet, topazes and tourmalines atop a velvet cap, with a headband made of ermine. 

Charles will wear the Imperial State Crown , or the Crown of State, at the end of the coronation service.

The State Funeral Of Queen Elizabeth II
The Imperial State CrownChristopher Furlong / Getty Images
28d ago / 10:53 AM UTC

What are the orb and sceptre? All about the crown jewels

Before being crowned, Charles receives a number of regalia including the orb and sceptres.

The sceptres are symbols of the monarch’s power. One has the Cullinan diamond, the largest colorless diamond in the world (530.2 carats). He also receives an orb, which represents the monarch’s power over the Christian world. 

Orb And Sceptre
'Orb and Sceptre', 1962.Heritage Images / Getty Images

As the Archbishop of Canterbury handed Charles the scepters, he will say, “Receive the rod of Equity and Mercy. Be so merciful that you be not too remiss; so execute justice that you forget not mercy. Punish the wicked, protect and cherish the just, and lead your people in the way wherein they should go.”

He also received an orb. Topped with a cross, the Sovereign’s Orb is a symbol of Christian authority over the world.

The Archbishop of Canterbury places the orb in Charles’ right hand and says. “Receive this orb set under the cross and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.” 

28d ago / 10:43 AM UTC

What's happening behind that screen? Inside Charles' anointment

The most sacred part of the coronation takes place in privacy. Charles sits behind a screen — specifically, an environmentally friendly anointing screen designed specifically for the coronation. The screen was made with sustainable materials, per the palace

At this time Charles removes his robes and is crowned with oil, per the palace. The coronation oil for this coronation was created using olives harvested from the Mount of Olives, a mountain ridge of the eastern borders of Jerusalem’s Old city that have Christian significance. It is here that Jesus sprayed before his crucifixion and where he is said to have ascended. 

Elizabeth’s coronation oil contained ambergris, which forms in a sperm whale’s intestine … and is an ingredient in luxury perfumes. Charles will not have the ingredient. 

He also sits in St. Edward’s Chair, made by order of King Edward I between 1300 and 1301. The chair sits over the Coronation Stone, also known as the Stone of Destiny. The 152-pound stone was used to crown Scotland’s kings until it was seized by King Edward I in 1296.

King Charles III Coronation
King Edward's ChairDan Kitwood / AP
28d ago / 10:16 AM UTC

Charles' coronation oath will feature a new pledge highlighting people of 'all faiths'

“I solemnly promise and swear to govern the People…”

The coronation oath is a staple part of the coronation and the part prescribed by British law. During the oath, the monarch swears to govern the people of the U.K. and the Commonwealth.

Charles has taken his oath.

Historically, the oath had Christian overtones in line with the monarch's role as "guardian of the faith." That is changing this coronation, which will have multicultural elements at the forefront.

The oath will be modified with a pledge written by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, "to seek to foster an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely."

The coronation will acknowledge that the U.K. is a multifaith country in other ways. For example, the first in the procession will be representatives from the Jewish, Sunni and Shiite Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Bahai and Zoroastrian communities.

28d ago / 10:12 AM UTC

The recognition begins

During this portion of the coronation, the first of six parts, the people recognize King Charles III as their monarch.

The people in the abbey, when asked if they recognize the king as their leader, respond, "God Save The King."

After this, the monarch then signs an oath, fulfilling his end of the bargain.

28d ago / 10:10 AM UTC

The Archbishop of Canterbury begins his liturgy

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, presides over the entire ceremony.

28d ago / 10:06 AM UTC

A look back at young Charles at Queen Elizabeth II's coronation 70 years ago

Charles was 4 years old when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was coronated at Westminster Abbey. Seventy years later, it's his turn.

In a photo from the 1953 ceremony, Charles watches with his head resting on his fist looking, well, bored.

Queen Coronation
Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother and Prince Charles with Princess Margaret Rose in the royal box at Westminster Abbey watching the Coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II. Getty Images

Charles' 2-year-old sister, Princess Anne, did not attend the ceremony, but joined her family later on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Charles' two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, will be in attendance. Forty and 38 years old, respectively, they're a bit too old to strike a similar pose as Charles did at his parent's coronation.

William's eldest son, Prince George, will serve as a page of honor.

28d ago / 10:05 AM UTC

Queen Camilla's jewels has a nod to Queen Elizabeth and past queens

Camilla wore a white gown to match her husband's coronation gown — specifically, a Bruce Oldfield couture dress.

“I am honored to have been asked to design such an historic gown for Her Majesty. This really is the most important commission of my life. Very exciting and very special,” Bruce Oldfield told WWD.

Her necklace has an homage to Queen Elizabeth II and queens before her. She. is wearing the Coronation Necklace. Dating back to 1858, and originally designed by Garrard for Queen Victoria, it's been worn at every coronation since.

28d ago / 10:02 AM UTC

Charles and Camilla's grandsons are among the pages of honor, breaking with tradition

Eight pages of honor will be part of the procession down the nave of Westminster Abbey during the ceremony, helping to carry the monarch’s robes. 

Among those children? Prince George, 9, the eldest of Prince Charles’ grandchildren and second in line to the throne, and Camilla's three grandsons.

This is a break from tradition, as the grandchildren of British monarchs do not usually play an official role in coronations.

The four pages of honor for King Charles III are:

  • Prince George
  • Lord Oliver Cholmondeley, 12, the son of the Prince and Princess of Wales' close friends
  • Ralph Tollemache, 12, who is also the king’s godchild
  • Nicholas Barclay, 13, grandson of the queen’s companion Sarah Troughton.

The four pages of honor for Camilla are:

  • Freddy Parker Bowles, 13, Camilla’s grandson. He is the son of Tom Parker Bowles. 
  • Gus and Louis Lopes, 13, Camilla’s twin grandsons. They are the sons of her only daughter Laura Lopes.
  • Arthur Elliot, 10, Camilla’s great-nephew.
28d ago / 9:58 AM UTC

The king and queen have entered the building!

Charles and Camilla have stepped out of the Diamond jubilee State Coach and begun their walk down the nave of Westminster Abbey.

Their robes are carried by the pages of honor, including the king's eldest grandchild King George. Their crowns are carried down the nave as well.

28d ago / 9:39 AM UTC

Prince Harry arrives to Westminster Abbey

Nearing the start of the ceremony, Prince Harry arrives. He is joined by his cousins Eugenie and Beatrice.

28d ago / 9:38 AM UTC

The king and queen are on their way. See the Diamond Jubilee State Coach

Britain's King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort
Britain's King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, are on the way to the coronation ceremony in London Saturday, May 6, 2023. Vadim Ghirda / AP

Charles and Camilla's journey to Westminster Abbey takes place in the ornate Diamond Jubilee State Coach, pulled by six Windsor Grey horses.The coach was created for Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate her 60th anniversary on the throne.

Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Camilla, Queen Consort
Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Camilla, Queen Consort begin their journey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, in the 'King's Procession', a journey of two kilometres from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in central London on May 6, 2023, ahead of their coronations. Oli Scarff / AFP - Getty Images
28d ago / 9:23 AM UTC

Charles and Camilla take off! They will travel in 2 different coaches

Charles and Camilla are traveling to and from Westminster Abbey in style. Here are a few facts about the horse-drawn coaches they'll be in during the King's Procession to the Abbey and the Coronation Procession after they're crowned.

The Diamond Jubilee State Coach

Diamond Jubilee State Coach
The Diamond Jubilee state Coach.Isabel Infantes / AFP via Getty Images

On their way to Westminster Abbey, they will travel in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, created to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II on her 60th year on the throne, per the palace. The coach is built with wood, metals and other materials from buildings that are significant to the royal family, including Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Windsor Castle. It will be pulled by six horses.

The Gold State Coach

Platinum Jubilee
The Gold State CoachstatRichard Dawson / PA Images via Getty Images

The king and queen will travel back Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach, last seen during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The eight-ton carriage will be pulled by eight horses.

28d ago / 9:17 AM UTC

Coronation music includes a new song by Andrew Lloyd Weber

The palace announced 12 newly commissioned works of music will debut during the coronation, including a Coronation Anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“I am incredibly honoured to have been asked to compose a new anthem for The Coronation. My anthem includes words slightly adapted from Psalm 98. I have scored it for the Westminster Abbey choir and organ, the ceremonial brass and orchestra. I hope my anthem reflects this joyful occasion,” said Webber, per the palace. 

Keep your ears out for a Coronation March by Patrick Doyle, a new commission for solo organ with themes from countries across the Commonwealth by Iain Farrington, plus new works by many other artists. 

The musicians will be significant, too. The official royal harpist Alis Huws will perform to symbolize the king’s relationship with Wales. The Byzantine Chant Ensemble will perform Greek Orthodox music to honor late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who was born into the Greek and Danish royal families.

28d ago / 9:06 AM UTC

Katy Perry, who is performing at the coronation concert, arrives

Pop star Katy Perry arrived to King Charles III's coronation in a mauve suit with a large matching hat.

28d ago / 8:55 AM UTC

In person viewing areas declared full at 8:29 a.m. in the morning, U.K. time

Only 2 thousand people will be in attendance for the coronation at Westminster Abbey — but many, many more will be standing along the procession route. Charles and Camilla will travel to and from Westminster Abbey.

At 8:29 a.m. in the U.K., about two hours before the first procession begins, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport declared all viewing areas full and closed to new arrivals.

28d ago / 8:50 AM UTC

1st glimpse of Charles and Camilla of the day

Around 11:15 BST, Charles and Camilla were spotted on their way from Clarence House, where they live, to Buckingham Palace, where the procession to Westminster Abbey will begin.

The married couple traveled in the bespoke State Bentley.

28d ago / 8:45 AM UTC

Jill Biden arrives for the coronation, sitting next to the 1st lady of Ukraine

Wearing a bright periwinkle suit, Jill Biden entered Westminster Abbey. She is sitting next to Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine.

Jill Biden is the first member of a president's family to attend a coronation. She will attend the event but her husband, President Joe Biden, will not. Instead, she's accompanied by her granddaughter Finnegan.

Biden has been documenting her journey to London, posting a photo when she got on the plane to see the historic event. "It’s an honor to represent the United States for this historic moment and celebrate the special relationship between our countries," she tweeted.

The day before the coronation, Catherine, Princess of Wales, met the first lady. The two posed for a picture with Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine.

Jill Biden poses with Kate Middleton and Ukraine’s first lady ahead of King Charles’ coronation
Jill Biden poses with Kate Middleton and Ukraine’s first lady ahead of King Charles’ coronation.Courtesy Kensington Palace
28d ago / 8:45 AM UTC

Inside the coronation guest list and how it compares to past royal events

The coronation ceremony inside Westminster Abbey will be attended by 2,000 people.

The invitations had a nod to the Green Man, an ancient figure from folklore and the symbolic of spring and rebirth, as well as a nod to Charles’ environmental concerns.

As for who made the guest list?

According to royal expert Daisy McAndrew, the audience within Westminster Abbey will differ from past recent royal events, like Queen Elizabeth's funeral and the respective weddings of Princes William and Harry.

"It will have fewer aristocrats and be more modern and diverse. More ordinary people," McAndrew says.

Confirmed on the guest list are community volunteers, workers and British Empire Medal recipients, per the palace.

28d ago / 8:44 AM UTC

What happens during a coronation?  It’s had the same structure for a thousand years

The coronation has retained the same structure for almost a millennia, with its components stemming from the crowning of the Saxon King Edgar the Peaceful in 973.

That means Charles' ceremony will resemble the ceremony that crowned Queen Elizabeth II, her father before that, his brother before that (yeah, it got messy), and so on.

The palace said Charles’ coronation ceremony will feature a “solemn religious service, together with an occasion for celebration and pageantry.” But it’s also hinting that Charles will put a modern spin on the events by “recognizing the spirit of our times.” One major change is that his ceremony will be shorter than his mom’s, which lasted four hours.

Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 — the first, and until now, the only one televised — had six parts, per the palace

Here's what to expect from Charles' event, based on the ones that came before.

  1. The recognition: At the beginning of the ceremony, Charles will be presented to the people.
  2. The oath: After being formally recognized by the people, Charles will fulfill his end of the bargain through a coronation oath. The monarch's coronation oath has been a legal requirement since a law passed in 1689. 
  3. The anointing: At this time, the monarch will be anointed with holy oil and blessed and consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This process, considered the most sacred part of the ceremony, takes place behind a screen, with Charles sitting in a coronation chair over 700 years old.
  4. The investiture: This portion of the coronation will include Charles’ crowning. At this time, Edward’s Crown is placed on his head by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He will also receive the orb and scepters.
  5. The enthronement and homage: Charles will be seated on the throne. At this time, different people pay homage to the king including Prince William, who will kneel before his father and pledge his loyalty. During Elizabeth's coronation, Prince Philip, her husband, was the first to kneel before her.

Camilla will also be coronated.

28d ago / 8:44 AM UTC

Here's what a royal expert is looking out for during the coronation

The coronation is a two-hour ceremony filled with pomp and circumstance. While following along the proceedings, royal expert Daisy McAndrew says she'll be asking herself the following questions.

  • What will Camilla's role in the coronation be?
  • How will the coronation spotlight Camilla and Charles' grandchildren and the next generation?
  • What will the reunion between estranged brothers Prince William and Prince Harry look like?
  • Will Charles get emotional? "He's a crier," she says.

McAndrew will also be taking a temperature of the public mood and looking out for anti-royal demonstrations.

28d ago / 8:44 AM UTC

What is the schedule of the coronation?

Here is a brief run of the show for those who are tuning in.

  • King Charles and Camilla leave Buckingham Palace in a King’s Procession to Westminster Abbey at 10:20 a.m. BST/5:20 a.m. EST
  • The service at Westminster Abbey begins at 11 a.m. BST/6 a.m. EST.
  • Charles will be crowned at approximately 12 p.m. BST/7 a.m. EST.
  • The two-hour service ends at 12:55 p.m. BST/7:55 a.m. EST.
  • Charles and Camilla will return to Buckingham Palace in another procession starting at 1 p.m. BST/a.m. EST.