King Charles III formally crowned in London's Westminster Abbey
Britain’s new monarch King Charles III and his wife Queen Camilla are crowned on Saturday at Westminster Abbey in a religious ceremony rich with ancient traditions and pageantry. Aged 74, Charles is the oldest British monarch ever to be crowned having ascended to the throne upon the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II in September last year.
The coronation of King Charles and his wife Queen Camilla was a day of lavish celebrations filled with pomp and pageantry but at its heart was a religious ceremony that traces its origins back over 1,000 years.
Thousands of dignitaries from Britain and across the world attended the coronation service in London’s Westminster Abbey. The service was led by the head of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby but other church and faith leaders also attended including the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, who read a prayer.
There was a powerful ecumenical moment right at the start of the coronation service when a silver processional cross containing two fragments of the True Cross gifted to King Charles by Pope Francis was carried up the aisle. The Pope sent the precious relics to the king last month as an ecumenical gesture marking the centenary of the Anglican Church in Wales.
After being presented with symbolic regalia, the culmination of the ceremony came when Charles was crowned while seated upon the ancient wooden coronation chair made in 1300. The Archbishop of Canterbury placed on the King’s head the traditional coronation crown made of solid gold and studded with gems.
The crowning was preceded by most sacred part of the coronation ritual where the King was anointed by Archbishop Welby. The oil for the coronation came from olives produced from two groves on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and was consecrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre there.
The day’s formal celebrations began with a lavish procession across central London from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey with the King and Queen travelling in a modern horse-drawn carriage. Tens of thousands of people ignored the rain here and lined the processional route to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. At the end of the coronation service in Westminster Abbey, the newly crowned royal couple retraced the route back to the Palace, this time travelling in the Gold State Coach that was built in the 18th century.
The public festivities ended with King Charles and Queen Camilla greeting the crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace and watching a military fly past.