At 74 years old, King Charles III is the oldest person to be crowned the monarch of the United Kingdom. He is 48 years older than his mother Queen Elizabeth II was when she took the throne. The second oldest was King William IV, who became the ruler, aged 64, in 1830.
Charles is the 40th British monarch to be crowned king in Westminster Abbey. For almost a millennium, royals have been crowned in the abbey, a tradition that began with William the Conqueror on Christmas Day in 1066. The ceremony involved several stages, including a recognition of the new sovereign with the cry “God Save King Charles.” The king was then presented with a Bible printed and bound for the occasion, on which he swore to govern the people with justice and mercy, and uphold the law and church. He was then anointed with holy oil, before being presented with the royal regalia and crowned. As the king was crowned, the abbey bells rang out for two minutes in celebration – and for another three hours after the ceremony.
Charles could be seen carrying an orb and sceptre. These are important items from the Crown Jewels collection and are representative of “monarchical power.” With a cross on the top, the Sovereign’s Orb is a symbol of “Christ’s dominion over the world,” as the king or queen is supposed to be God’s representative on Earth – an idea stemming from the notion that monarchs have a “divine right to rule.” The Sovereign’s Sceptre represents temporal power and is often associated with the idea that a king or queen should hold good governance above all.
Camilla, Charles’ wife, was also crowned at the ceremony. It was Queen Elizabeth’s wish that she be titled “Queen Consort,” but it is the sitting sovereign who ultimately makes the decision. A late change means she will now officially be known as Queen Camilla. The late Prince Philip (Elizabeth’s husband) never had the title “king” bestowed upon him because – most likely – it was thought at the time that such a moniker would create the appearance that he outranked his wife. Despite her new position, Camilla will not take over the throne if her husband dies before her, as it is passed down by blood, not marriage. According to the royal website, her role is to support her husband and to undertake “public engagements on behalf of the charities that she supports.”
First Lady Jill Biden attended the coronation accompanied by Hunter Biden’s eldest daughter, Finnegan. Although no sitting president of the United States has ever attended the ascension of a British monarch, it has historically been common to send diplomatic emissaries to further international relations. Mrs. Biden has no meetings scheduled during her visit.
While Prince Andrew (Charles’ brother) was stripped of his public titles and banned from wearing royal robes in 2022 by Queen Elizabeth due to the scandal surrounding his association with Jeffrey Epstein, he was allowed to appear at the coronation in his formal Order of the Garter robes. It is rumored that he and the king have reached an agreement that Andrew will be able to quietly begin using his royal titles publicly once again, but no formal announcement has been made.
While Prince Harry was in attendance at Westminster Abbey, he was not joined by wife Meghan Markle. Rather than joining the new king and queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, he slipped away once the coronation ceremony was complete, reportedly hoping to see his son Archie who was celebrating his fourth birthday in California.
Following the coronation ceremony, the royal procession returned to Buckingham Palace. This included the royal family accompanied by footmen, marching bands, and soldiers in the British military’s largest ceremonial operation since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Princess Anne – the king’s sister – did not play a role during the ceremony, but she was given one for the parade after the coronation. Charles asked her to act as “Gold-Stick-In-Waiting,” or the monarch’s official bodyguard. She presented herself on horseback, leading the Royal Carriage and 6,000 military personnel back to Buckingham Palace. She was the only member of the Royal Family to be on horseback; as a former Olympic equestrian, she was well-suited for the ride.
The British public is somewhat divided on the issue of the monarchy. According to a recent poll by the National Centre for Social Research, public support for the monarchy is at a historic low, with 45% of respondents either saying it should be abolished or is not important. While a number of anti-monarchist protesters were arrested on the day, large crowds had camped out to catch a glimpse of the new king and queen. Street parties were also held in celebration across the country, with Britons enjoying a long weekend for the occasion.
Crowds stood outside Buckingham Palace to see the royal family appear on the balcony, while the Red Arrows (Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team) performed a fly past. Unusually, all those marching in the procession remained in the palace gardens and gave a Royal Salute and three cheers to the King and Queen.
Royal children Charlotte (age 7) and Louis (age 5) appear with their parents, Prince William and Kate Middleton on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The young kids have become a firm favorite among the British press and public for pulling funny faces, as well as occasional impatient or bored expressions, during official ceremonies. William is now first in line to the throne, followed by his heir and eldest son George, age 9, seen here pointing on the right.
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