The British know how to put on a show for its monarchy’s milestones, and the Coronation of King Charles III is a once-in-a-generation chance to be personally steeped in pageantry, traditions dating back a millennium and quintessentially English experiences you may never see again.
Travelers to Britain during the Coronation will create a lifetime of memories and an endless collection of stories that begin: “I was there when…”
Tap into the romance of British period dramatic films and TV series and the ultimate in English lifestyle with a trip to be a part of it all during the Coronation.
Coronation events take place over a special holiday weekend beginning Saturday, May 6, 2023.
Saturday’s Coronation Procession and Service
On Saturday, two grand processions take place and the coronation itself. The coronation will be held at Westminster Abbey, where all of Britain’s monarchs have been vested with their powers since AD 1066.
The Coronation takes place during a one-of-a-kind religious ceremony that has remained largely unchanged for more than 1,000 years and is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The King and Queen will arrive at Westminster Abbey in procession from Buckingham Palace, known as ‘The King’s Procession.’ Millions of people are expected to line the procession route to be a witness to history and to be able to say they saw the King in person on his coronation day; one of the best opportunities for visitors to Britain to be a part of the moment.
During the ceremony that will be televised into the streets and around the world, the monarch will take the coronation oath, before he is anointed, blessed and consecrated by the Archbishop. He will then receive the Monarch’s symbolic orb and sceptres before the Archbishop places St Edward’s Crown on the King’s head. Representatives of the British Houses of Parliament, Church and the State, as well as prime ministers and leading citizens from the Commonwealth as well as global royalty are expected to be present.
After the Service, the King and Queen will return to Buckingham Palace in a larger ceremonial procession, known as ‘The Coronation Procession.’
On the return journey, they are joined by other members of the Royal Family, so the crowds lining the streets will get to see their favorite royals in their ceremonial finest recreate history in antique, horse-drawn coaches. The King’s coach will likely be the renowned Gold State Coach used at every coronation since the 1700’s.
As has become customary for milestone events for the monarchy, once back at Buckingham Palace,the King and The Queen, accompanied by members of the Royal Family, will appear on the balcony to conclude the day’s ceremonial events.
Sunday’s Coronation Concert, ‘Lighting Up the Nation,’ Community-wide ‘Big Lunch’
Sunday will see an all-star concert at Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and the family home of the British Royal Family for almost 1,000 years.
The Coronation Concert will feature global superstars and a special Coronation Choir and will be staged and broadcast live by the BBC.
There will also be a televised ‘lighting up the nation’ moment during the concert. Landmarks across the UK will be lit up with projections, lasers, drone displays and illuminations, and street parties will be held in communities large and small around the country.
The Coronation Big Lunch, where neighbors are invited to share food and fun together, will also take place across the country on the Sunday.
The ‘Big Help Out’
Monday, May 8 is a specially-designated “Bank Holiday” with community events to create lasting shared memories of the historic occasion.
In an event being billed ‘The Big Help Out,’ communities are organizing volunteer projects for people to join to commemorate the historic coronation event.
Being in Britain during the coronation weekend will be a bucket list travel experience.
Even if you don’t visit during the coronation itself, you can still immerse yourself in the traditions and legacy of past coronations, as well as the coronation of King Charles III.
You can visit displays of:
The coronation robes carry symbolic meaning and new robes are traditionally made for each coronation.
Queen Elizabeth II wore a satin dress for her coronation. Her Robe of State was made of velvet trimmed with Canadian ermine and gold lace, decorated with 3500 hours of embroidery by the Royal School of Needlework. The robes were most recently on display during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and it’s likely King Charles’ historic coronation outfit will also soon end up on display.
It has been suggested that the King may choose to arrive at the service in military uniform. Worn at the conclusion of the coronation is the Imperial Robe.
Plus, of course, all those incredible jewels.
The Crown Jewels
The Crown Jewels collection is Britain’s most precious treasure, including the sacred Coronation Regalia used at the coronations of new monarchs. Comprising more than 100 objects and over 23,000 gemstones, the Crown Jewels are priceless, and of incalculable cultural, historical and symbolic value.
They are part of the Royal Collection, held in trust by the monarch for the nation and have been protected at the Tower of London since the 1660s, where they have attracted millions of visitors annually ever since.
The Crown Jewels collection includes St Edward’s Crown, which is only used to crown a new king or queen during the coronation ceremony and the Imperial State Crown, used by the monarch at state occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament.
Charles will wear the St. Edward’s Crown for his coronation at Westminster Abbey. The magnificent solid gold frame weighs nearly 5lbs and is adorned with rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnet, topazes and tourmalines. It was made for the coronation of Charles II in the 1600’s.
The King will swap this out for the Imperial State Crown before the end of the ceremony and wear that as he leaves. The second crown is made of gold and set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls, and four rubies.
The crown contains some of the most famous jewels in the collection, including the Black Prince's Ruby, the Stuart Sapphire, and the Cullinan II diamond. St Edward’s Sapphire, set in the centre of the topmost cross, is said to have been worn in a ring by St Edward the Confessor and discovered in his tomb in 1163. The Imperial State Crown was made for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937, replacing the crown made for Queen Victoria in 1838.
At the heart of the Crown Jewels collection are the Coronation Regalia: the sacred objects used during the coronation ceremony. These unique objects represent the powers and responsibilities of the monarch.
The Coronation Regalia includes the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, the Sovereign’s Orb, and the Coronation Spoon. At the end of the ceremony, the newly crowned sovereign exits Westminster Abbey, enrobed in the Imperial Robe, wearing the Imperial State Crown and carrying the Sceptre and the Orb.
The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross has been used at every coronation since Charles II’s in 1661. It now also features the spectacular Cullinan I diamond. At 530.2 carats, it is the largest colourless cut diamond in the world.
The Cullinan Diamond was discovered in 1905, in modern-day South Africa, named after the mine's chairman, Sir Thomas Cullinan. At 3,106 carats, The Cullinan Diamond remains the largest gem-quality uncut diamond ever found. The two largest stones were named the Cullinan I and the Cullinan II. They are set in the Sovereign’s Sceptre and the Imperial State Crown.
One of the oldest objects in the Crown Jewels is the twelfth-century Coronation Spoon. It is used for anointing the sovereign with holy oil, the most sacred part of the coronation ceremony.
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Images courtesy of Visit Britain.
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