Consecration for Charles III, crowned in great pomp in London

Sylvie Claire / May 7, 2023

King Charles III and Queen Camilla were crowned on Saturday at Westminster Abbey in London in a ceremony full of pomp and ceremony.


The highlight of this consecration, the first in 70 years, the Archbishop of Canterbury placed the solid gold crown of St. Edward, set with rubies, on the head of the 74-year-old sovereign.


Dressed in a simple white linen shirt, the king had shortly before taken the oath on the Bible and then received the anointing on his knees, protected from view by embroidered screens, while the famous "Zadok the Priest" by Handel was played.


He reappeared to put on the "supertunica", a silk cloak wrapped in fine gold coins, and then the imperial mantle, made of gold cloth. With the royal stole on his shoulders, the white leather coronation glove slipped over his right hand, and a scepter in each hand, the king then received the crown weighing more than two kilograms, used for all coronations since 1661.


God Save The King!" declared the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, first dignitary of the Anglican religion, imitated by some of the 2300 guests present at the abbey.


Trumpets sounded and cannon fire was heard throughout the United Kingdom and from Royal Navy ships at sea. His heir William, kneeling, then pledged allegiance to his father. Camilla, 75, Charles' second wife, was then blessed and crowned.


Charles III became king of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth countries, from Canada to Australia to Jamaica, in September after the death of his mother Elizabeth II. His coronation was a religious confirmation and the United Kingdom had not seen one since 1953.


Although it has been modernized with a shorter duration, representatives of the main religions and gospel sung in addition to the classics, this thousand-year-old ritual has given the British monarchy the opportunity to display all its pomp.


The king had left Buckingham Palace in a carriage, crossing the center of London in the rain in front of thousands of fans of the royal family and some signs "Not my king", unimaginable under his mother. He crossed the doors of the abbey dressed in the state coat of his grandfather George VI, notably followed by four pages, including his grandson George, followed by the queen, in ivory dress embroidered with flowers.


Prince William and his wife Kate joined the other members of the royal family, including Prince Harry, relegated to the third row and deprived of any official role during this historic day, as a result of his departure to California in 2020 followed by violent criticism against the palace.


In attendance were 2300 guests, foreign dignitaries such as French President Emmanuel Macron, Swiss President Alain Berset or the wife of U.S. President Jill Biden, celebrities such as actress Judi Dench, representatives of the nobility, political leaders and representatives of civil society.


At the end of the ceremony, the royal couple, crowns on their heads, left for Buckingham palace in another 18th century carriage, the very uncomfortable "Gold State Coach" of four tons, so heavy that it must be pulled by eight horses moving at a walk. He was escorted by an impressive procession of 4,000 soldiers, Princess Anne on horseback and William and his family in another coach.


Charles III and Camilla, accompanied by the active members of the royal family, then went out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet tens of thousands of people gathered. They watched a flypast, which was reduced due to the rain, entered the palace and then exited to briefly greet the packed crowd once again despite the weather.


Wearing crowns and formal wear, the King and Queen were surrounded by the heir to the throne William with his wife Kate and their children, as well as Anne and Edward, brother and sister of the sovereign. Neither Charles's youngest son Harry nor his brother Andrew, both of whom are retired from the monarchy, were present.


In a United Kingdom in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, the event was prepared without much popular enthusiasm. In addition, the police, who mobilized more than 11,000 agents, arrested more than 20 demonstrators before the coronation, including six anti-monarchists and environmental activists who wanted to protest on the royal route.


"This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not in London," protested the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization. Anti-monarchists are still very much a minority, but their proportion is rising, especially among young people. Their presence was unimaginable under Elizabeth II, a sign of the challenges for Charles III.


A large crowd, joyful and dressed in the colors of the United Kingdom, had massed on the route between the palace and the Abbey, to attend this historic event and see the royal couple and the procession pass.


After the coronation, neighborhood meals and a concert in Windsor are planned on Sunday, before a public holiday on Monday.

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