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King Charles’s coronation: first details emerge

23 January 2023

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The interior of the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey, the burial place of 15 kings and queens of England

The interior of the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey, the burial place of 15 kings and queens of England

THE coronation service of King Charles III and the Queen Consort is to take place with “solemnity, celebration, and pageantry” on the morning of Saturday 6 May in Westminster Abbey at the start of three days of special events, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.

In recent months there had been suggestions that the King’s coronation would be a “slimmed-down” version of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, which lasted almost three hours, and at which 8000 guests were catered for (News, October 2022). Details of the King’s coronation weekend, set out in a press release on Saturday gave no further details of this, although a two-hour service is being spoken of.

The King and the Queen Consort are to arrive at Westminster Abbey in procession from Buckingham Palace. A congregation of 3000 people is expected to attend in person, and the service will be televised. Afterwards, the royal couple will return to Buckingham Palace in a larger ceremonial procession, joined by other members of the royal family, to appear on the palace balcony a little later.

On the next day, Sunday, a special coronation concert is to be held at Windsor Castle orchestrated by the BBC and featuring “global music icons and contemporary stars” — singers, actors, dancers, and spoken-word performers. It will be staged on the east lawn. Volunteers from royal charities will be invited to attend, and several thousand free tickets will be made available to the public through an open ballot.

Also featured in the concert will be the Coronation Choir — described by Buckingham Palace as a diverse group of the “keenest community choirs and amateur singers from across the UK, such as refugee choirs, NHS choirs, LGBTQ+ singing groups, and deaf signing choirs.

“A new documentary exploring the formation of the Coronation Choir will tell the stories of the people representing the many faces and voices of the country. The Coronation Choir will appear alongside the Virtual Choir, made up of singers from across the Commonwealth, for a special performance on the night.”

A light project — featuring projections, lasers, drone displays, and illuminations — will be the “centrepiece” of the evening, the Palace says.

On the Monday, a Bank Holiday, neighbours and communities are being encouraged to take part in the Coronation Big Lunch, with picnics and street parties across the country. The Palace explains: “The Big Lunch is an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the National Lottery, that brings millions of people together annually to boost community spirit, reduce loneliness and support charities and good causes.” The Queen Consort has been Patron since 2013.

Free downloadable resources will also be made available at CoronationBigLunch.com.

Also to be held on the Monday is the Big Help Out, organised by the Together Coalition and a wide range of partners including faith groups, to “highlight the positive impact volunteering” has on communities across the UK.

The Palace says: “In tribute to His Majesty The King’s public service, The Big Help Out will encourage people to try volunteering for themselves and join the work being undertaken to support their local areas. The aim of The Big Help Out is to use volunteering to bring communities together and create a lasting volunteering legacy from the Coronation Weekend.”

The Times reported a Buckingham Palace aide saying: “The King’s aspirations are for the coronation to be a moment of joyful, inclusive celebration for the nation, the Commonwealth and the realms, reflecting that Britain is a more modern and diverse nation than it was in 1953.

“With a focus on community-building and patriotism, His Majesty wishes everyone to feel as if they can have a stake in it if they wish to. It is equally important that the weekend should have some form of meaningful legacy, hence the support for volunteering initiatives.”

Further details of the service, lunch, and other events will be released over the coming months.

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