After the death of Elizabeth II, her eldest son Charles, now called King Charles III, has had time to feel the full weight of the responsibilities imposed by the new title and the processions associated with it. But there is an event ahead that will require Charles’s utmost restraint and courtesy – his coronation, scheduled for next summer.
In 1953, when his mother, Elizabeth II, ascended the throne, the entire ceremony took about four hours. Her majesty’s coronation was largely based on that of her father, King George VI, in 1937, which was in turn modelled on that of King George V in 1911. The new king, however, has decided that much will be different on his day.
According to palace insiders, Charles III has already instructed the Duke of Norfolk, who will manage the coronation, to do just that. He has been instructed to prepare a simpler, shorter and more varied ceremony reflecting modern Britain.
In 1953 some 8,000 subjects of the realm spent more than three hours in Westminster Abbey on makeshift benches and platforms watching Elizabeth’s coronation. Charles III’s coronation, on the other hand, will take no more than an hour, according to insiders. And it will be attended by just 2,000 guests and dignitaries. And the dress code for those attending will not be as strict as that of the late Queen. Whereas previously men were expected to attend the coronation in knee-length breeches and women to wear headdresses, preferably tiaras, now elegant suits and evening gowns will suffice. Peers would no longer have to wear crimson velvet capes trimmed with ermine.
The velvet armchairs made especially for the 1953 coronation will also disappear. They will be replaced by standard seats. But the key rituals will remain unchanged. These include the anointing of the monarch, who will swear to be a “defender of the faith”. Also part of the procession will be the golden state carriage from 1762, which has been refurbished for the Queen’s platinum jubilee. As a reminder, Charles’ wife Camilla will also be crowned Queen Consort on the same day.