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King Charles III's coronation: What to know for the centuries-old ceremony

U.K. prepares for first coronation in 70 years
U.K. prepares for first coronation in 70 years 02:15

He's been Britain's reigning monarch since September last year, but King Charles III and his wife, the Queen Consort Camilla, will be formally crowned on May 6 in a coronation ceremony steeped in centuries of tradition — with a few small tweaks expected for the modern age. 

Below is a look at what we know so far about the ceremony being planned by Buckingham Palace:

When is King Charles' coronation and how to watch?

King Charles III will officially be crowned on Saturday, May 6, alongside his queen consort, Camilla. The date was agreed upon by the U.K. government, the Church of England and the royal household.

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, Visit Yorkshire
King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort during an official visit to Yorkshire on Nov. 9, 2022, in York, England. James Glossop / Getty Images

On Saturday, King Charles and Camilla, his queen consort, will begin to travel from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in a procession at 5:20 a.m. Eastern, 10:20 a.m. local time. The route they will take is 1.3 miles long, directly through central London.  

The coronation ceremony will begin at Westminster Abbey at 6:00 a.m. Eastern, 11:00 a.m. local time and is expected to last for about two hours. Afterwards, they will travel in a procession back to Buckingham Palace.

Click here for a full schedule of the coronation events and to learn how to watch the ceremony from wherever you are.

Who is on the coronation guest list? 

After some speculation, it was confirmed that Prince Harry will attend his father's coronation, but his wife Meghan will not, Buckingham Palace said.

"Buckingham Palace is pleased to confirm that The Duke of Sussex will attend the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey on 6th May," the palace said in a statement. "The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet."

Otherwise, most members of Britain's royal family, including the heir to the throne, William, Prince of Wales, and his wife Katherine, Princess of Wales and their children will be there. The Wales' oldest child Prince George, will act as a page, taking part in the coronation ceremony itself.

The coronation is an official state event, so the U.K. government is in charge of the guest list. Heads of state, including French President Emmanuel Macron will be there. 

U.S. President Biden has said he will not attend, but first lady Jill Biden will be there.

Religious leaders from across the British Commonwealth are also expected to attend the coronation, CBS News partner network BBC News reports.

Where will the coronation take place?

The coronation will take place at Westminster Abbey, where the ceremony has been held for the last 900 years. It will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

King Charles and Camilla will travel to Westminster Abbey from Buckingham Palace as part of "The King's Procession." After the service, they will return to Buckingham Palace in another procession, this time joined by other members of the royal family, known as "The Coronation Procession."

Once they arrive at Buckingham Palace, the senior members of the royal family will make an appearance on the balcony.

What happens during the coronation?

Coronation ceremonies came out of an historic need to bring stability to European monarchies amid competing claims to their thrones, as well as traditions of church involvement in the state. They do not take place immediately after the death of the previous monarch to allow time for the country to grieve. The ceremony is largely religious, and it does not bring King Charles any further privileges as the monarch, which he has been since the moment his mother died.

British coronations involve an Anglican Church service.  

Once inside the Abbey, traditionally the events take place as follows: the Recognition, the Coronation Oath, the Anointing, the Investiture and the Enthronement and Homage. 

During the Recognition, the monarch is presented to the people in attendance. During the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Charles' mother, in 1953, trumpets sounded after she was presented to each side of the abbey, and people exclaimed "God save the Queen."

Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation in 1953
Queen Elizabeth II holding her symbols of office after the crowning ceremony at her coronation on June 2, 1953. / Getty Images

The only part of the coronation ceremony that is required by law is the Coronation Oath. The exact wording of the oath has varied over the centuries. Queen Elizabeth II swore to rule the U.K. and Commonwealth countries according to law, exercise justice with mercy and maintain the Church of England. It is expected that King Charles' oath will be similar, though he is expected to recognize all faiths.

After the oath, Charles is expected to be anointed with holy oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will pour the oil onto a spoon and anoint Charles' hands, head and breast. Then, Charles will be given the royal robe, the orb, the coronation ring, the sceptre and the rod of his position. St. Edward's Crown will be placed on his head.

After King Charles is crowned, his Queen Consort, Camilla, will be crowned, before the final procession back to Buckingham Palace.

What will King Charles wear at the coronation?

King Charles has decided to reuse several historic items for his coronation ceremony.

He'll wear the same royal robes that his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, wore for her coronation in 1953, including an embroidered robe made of gold silk, called the Supertunica. The Supertunica will be worn under the Golden Imperial Mantle, which was first made for King George IV in 1821.

The new monarch will also wear the same coronation glove his grandfather wore nearly a century ago.

"We've got this wonderful, sustainable, eco-friendly king who's reusing something rather than having a new glove," Deborah Moore, CEO of Dents Glovemakers, told CBS News.

Who will perform at the coronation concert?

A concert will be held to celebrate King Charles' coronation the evening of May 7, which will be produced and broadcast by the BBC.

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Andrea Bocelli, and British boy band Take That are among those who will perform in front of 20,000 guests on the grounds of Windsor Castle, west of London.

"To share the stage with the other performers at the Coronation Concert is a once-in-a-lifetime event and it will be an honor and a celebration," Richie said in a statement.

What is "Coronation Quiche"?

Buckingham Palace announced an official dish for the coronation celebrations — "Coronation Quiche" — and it raised a few eyebrows. King Charles and Camilla, his Queen Consort, are said to have chosen the dish personally to mark the occasion of their crowning.

But the recipe, published on the royal family's website, included an ingredient not usually found in the eggy dish: beans. The response on social media wasn't very generous. People called the dish "disgusting," a "weird choice," and "nonsense."

An image from the U.K. royal family's official website shows an example of a prepared "Coronation Quiche," the official dish of King Charles III's coronation.

In 1953, the famed Le Cordon Bleu cooking school developed a recipe of cold chicken in a mild curry cream sauce to be served to guests attending Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Luncheon. "Coronation Chicken" has retained steadfast popularity in the U.K., even weathering a controversial contemporary addition of raisins.

Will there be protests during the coronation?

Protests against the British monarchy have been planned around the United Kingdom for the day of the coronation by the anti-monarchy group Republic. The group wants Britain's monarch to be replaced as the official head of state by an elected official. Republic is either organizing or promoting peaceful rallies in England and Scotland.

Britain Commonwealth Day
Protesters hold placards with the message "Not my king" before Britain's King Charles III arrives to attend the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London, March 13, 2023. Frank Augstein/AP

There have also been reports of potential planned disruptions of the coronation procession, U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden told Britain's Time Radio. 

Dowden said the government had received intelligence that some people might try to spook horses on the procession route by sounding rape alarms. He said the police would "use the full range of powers at their disposal to make sure that public order is maintained and that the ceremony is not disrupted."

Get a unique look at King Charles, as close friends, confidantes and ex-lovers share stories on the man behind the crown. Stream the documentary, "King Charles: The Boy Who Walked Alone," starting Tuesday, May 2, exclusively on Paramount+.

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