King Charles coronation: all the details and who’s attending

Heads of state, celebrities and volunteers set to attend ‘scaled-back’ ceremony tomorrow 

King Charles III
The coronation will be an important symbolic moment in Charles’s reign
(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Soldiers and emergency workers are among more than 400,000 people who will be given medals for their efforts to support the King’s coronation.

The nickel silver medals – featuring a portrait of Charles and Camilla on one side and the royal cypher, a laurel wreath and the date of the coronation on the other – are a “thank you from the nation”, said deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden. The honour will be awarded to “everyone actively contributing to and supporting the event”, The Telegraph reported, including “police officers, choristers, military personnel and ambulance workers”.

Years of planning and preparation have gone into the crowning of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey tomorrow. The guest list features dignitaries, heads of state, members of other royal families and a string of celebrities, as well as more than 1,250 volunteers and young people who have been invited to attend the ceremony or associated events.

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“It will be a weekend of splendour and traditions dating back 1,000 years”, said the BBC, and Britons are getting an extra bank holiday on Monday to continue the celebrations or to use their day off in other ways. The official website of the royal family explained that “members of the public will be invited to take part in The Big Help Out”, a campaign to showcase how volunteering both benefits communities and the people who take part.

When is the coronation?

The coronation of King Charles III is taking place at 11am on Saturday 6 May 2023, eight months after Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

It is traditional to “wait until a sufficient time period of mourning has taken place” before crowning new sovereigns, said the London Evening Standard. The late Queen’s coronation took place on 2 June 1953, some 16 months after her the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952.

Where will it take place?

The coronation procession will take the King and Queen Consort from Buckingham Palace down The Mall, past Trafalgar Square and along Whitehall before arriving at Westminster Abbey, where the service will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The 1.3-mile route will be a fraction of the length of Elizabeth II’s, “raising fears that many royal well-wishers may miss out on the chance to see the new monarch”, said The Telegraph.

Since the days of William the Conqueror – some 900 years ago – all coronations except two have been held in Westminster Abbey. “Edward V was presumed murdered in the Tower of London before he could be crowned and Edward VIII abdicated 11 months after succeeding his father so was never crowned,” explained the abbey’s website.

After the service, King Charles will return to Buckingham Palace along the same route, with some members of his family joining the procession, and will then appear on the Palace balcony.

What will happen during the coronation?

The monarch will be crowned alongside his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, who will then take the title of Queen. The King will be anointed with holy oil and receive the Sovereign’s Orb, coronation ring and sceptre, and will then be crowned with the majestic St Edward’s crown and blessed.

The ceremony has been “years in the planning” under the codename of “Operation Golden Orb”, according to the i news site.

It will be a “deeply religious affair” but is also expected to be “more inclusive of multi-faith Britain than past coronations” while remaining an Anglican service.

Charles will sit on the same throne on which King Henry VIII, King Charles I, Queen Victoria and the late Queen Elizabeth II were all crowned. Yet “despite its history, the chair is covered in graffiti”, said Sky News.

Much of it has been “carved by Westminster schoolboys and visitors to Westminster Abbey during the 18th and 19th centuries”, added the broadcaster, with one carving reading: “P. Abbott slept in this chair 5-6 July 1800”.

During the historic ceremony, millions of viewers worldwide will be invited to “cry out and swear allegiance” to the monarch, said ITV News. The addition of the controversial new Homage of the People marks “the first time in history” that the public will play “an active role” in a coronation.

Who will attend?

It will be a significantly smaller affair than the Queen’s 1953 coronation, when more than 8,000 guests from 129 nations travelled to Westminster Abbey to see the crowning. Around 2,200 guests will see Charles officially crowned.

Confirmed guests include royals from Monaco, Japan, Denmark and Sweden, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “President Joe Biden will not be in attendance, but First Lady Jill Biden will lead a US delegation to the coronation,” said Town & Country.

Among the British Empire Medal recipients invited is 13-year-old Max Woosey, who raised more than £750,000 for North Devon Hospice by camping in his garden for three years.

In “a sign of radically changed times”, Sinn Féin “who once supported Irish Republican Army attacks on British royals”, is sending a senior representative to the coronation, said Politico. Michelle O’Neill, the party’s deputy leader and first minister-designate for the “mothballed” Northern Ireland government, said she wanted to demonstrate her respect for unionists and their British identity.

Camilla’s “naughty” ex-husband will also be there, said The Sunday Times. Andrew Parker Bowles “will be front and centre of the congregation at Westminster Abbey watching his first wife crowned alongside King Charles, while his grandchildren take centre stage with official roles in the ceremony”, according to the paper.

Who will perform?

The Palace had hoped to line up a stellar cast for the king’s coronation concert at Windsor Castle on Sunday, but at least six of the UK’s biggest stars were said to have turned down the opportunity to perform.

According to reports in The Sun, “Elton John, the Spice Girls and Harry Styles had all been invited”, but told Buckingham Palace that their “crazy-busy schedules” meant they were unable to make the “regal shindig”. That’s after Ed Sheeran, Adele and Robbie Williams also reportedly turned down the gig.

But King Charles won’t be bereft of stars at the celebration, with Take That’s Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald due to headline the concert, as well as Australian stars Kylie and Dannii Minogue, and soul legend Lionel Richie. The concert will also feature “12 newly commissioned pieces of music” including one from Andrew Lloyd Webber, said the BBC.

Other stars expected to perform include pop star Katy Perry, opera singer Andrea Bocelli, singer-songwriter Freya Ridings, bass-baritone Bryn Terfel and classical-soul pioneer Alexis Ffrench.

How much will it cost?

According to a source in The Sun, the ceremony could cost around £100m. “In today’s money the 1953 coronation cost around £50m but estimates for King Charles’s are twice that because of things like security, which weren’t such a big issue back then,” said the insider.

However, this has not been confirmed. “The British government, which picks up the tab, says that information will be published at a later date,” said The Washington Post.

How can I watch the coronation?

The Queen’s coronation was broadcast to an estimated 20m people and marked the first time cameras were placed inside Westminster Abbey.

The BBC is suspending the licence fee over the upcoming coronation weekend, allowing “venues to show coronation coverage on 6 May and the concert on 7 May without needing to pay for a licence”, said The Mirror.

The broadcaster said the dispensation was granted in “exceptional circumstances”, with the event needing to be of “national importance” and shown in a community setting.

Broadcasting icon David Dimbleby, whose father Richard covered the Queen’s coronation, turned down an opportunity to play a role in the BBC’s coverage, according to The Times. Instead, coverage will be spearheaded by Kirsty Young in a studio located outside Buckingham Palace, with support from Huw Edwards and Clare Balding.

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