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Everything we know so far about King Charles' coronation

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The coronation of King Charles III will take place in May, in a ceremony that is expected to be less extravagant than the late Queen’s ceremony, while underscoring a new era for the Royal Family.

The May 6 service will begin at 11 a.m. local time at London’s Westminster Abbey, the setting for every coronation since 1066, kicking off a weekend of festivities that honour old traditions while incorporating a modern touch.

The coronation will “reflect the Monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry,” according to a statement from Buckingham Palace.

While his mother’s coronation was the first to be televised, the King’s social media-era coronation will feature its own bespoke emoji.

The religious ceremony, seven months after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric in the Church of England, for which the monarch is considered the Supreme Governor.

“We know that King Charles is having some spiritual guidance from the Archbishop of Canterbury,” royal commentator Afua Hagan told CTVNews.ca, “They have a very close relationship.”

At time of publication, it’s unclear how long the service will be. In comparison, the Queen’s coronation was about three hours long.

Still, the King’s coronation is expected to be more muted than that of his mother’s.

“I think the King is quite aware of the rising protests we’ve seen… the cost of living crisis,” said Hagan.

“Yes, the King’s coronation has to have a certain sense of pomp and ceremony but it’s not going to be as extravagant as in the past.”

THE INVITATION

Early in April, the Royal Family unveiled the official invitation for the coronation, identifying King Charles' wife as Queen Camilla for the first time.

Both husband and wife, until now described as Queen Consort, are given equal billing on the invitations.

The medieval style invitations, designed by Andrew Jamieson, feature the motif of the Green Man, "an ancient figure from British folklore, symbolic of spring and rebirth."

"The shape of the Green Man, crowned in natural foliage, is formed of leaves of oak, ivy and hawthorn, and the emblematic flowers of the United Kingdom."

The use of the Green Man is seen as a nod to the King's record of supporting conservation and preserving the environment.

The invitation, hand-painted in watercolour and gouache, will be reproduced and printed on recycled card, with gold foil detailing, for the 2,000 invited guests.

Buckingham Palace also released more information about the ceremony, announcing that the King's eldest grandson, nine-year-old Prince George, who is second in line to the throne, would be one of the pages of honour attending the monarch.

Camilla will also have four pages, three of whom are her grandchildren.

HOW THE CORONATION WILL UNFOLD

In the morning, the King and Queen will travel the two-kilometre route in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach in a procession to Westminster Abbey. The coach, which was built for Elizabeth’s 50th anniversary, will be a more comfortable ride, as it has heat, air conditioning, power windows, and a suspension system.

They will arrive at Westminster Abbey in time for the 11 a.m. religious service.

The service will include the King’s oath, where he will swear to uphold the law and Church of England, the anointing with the holy oil, the investing of the regalia, and finally the crowning.

THE SECRETIVE ANOINTING

The King will be anointed with holy oil consecrated in Jerusalem, reflecting the British monarch’s connection to the Holy Land, in what is considered the most sacred part of the ceremony.

The oil was produced from olives that grew from groves on the Mount of Olives, at the Monastery of the Ascension and the Monastery of Mary Magdalene, the burial place of Charles' grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece.

The anointing will take place hidden from view of the public, said Hagan, as it’s a “private, significant part of the service.”

During the anointing, the ceremonial robes will be removed, a canopy of cloth of gold will be placed around the monarch to conceal him from view, as is the custom, and it’s believed he will be wearing a simple white robe underneath.

The King will be anointed with the holy oil on his hands, his chest and his head. The King will be anointed with a silver-gilt spoon, which is the oldest object in use at the coronation. Its use was first recorded in 1349 and it's the only piece of Royal goldsmiths' work to survive from the twelfth century.

After being used to anoint King James I in 1603, it's been used at every coronation since.

THE CROWNING

King Charles III will be crowned with St. Edward’s Crown, one of the iconic symbols of the British monarchy, which was created for the coronation of Charles II. The crown was quietly removed from the Tower of London last December to be resized for the monarch.

Meanwhile, Queen Consort Camilla will be wearing Queen Mary’s Crown, which was commissioned by Charles’ great-grandmother, Mary, for her husband King George V’s 1911 coronation.

“Using these crowns is a good idea because they are less controversial, they don’t contain diamonds and jewels that have a dubious history,” Hagan said.

Camilla’s choice means she avoids the controversy surrounding another crown featuring the Koh-i-Noor diamond. India has demanded the return of the disputed 106-carat diamond.

AFTER THE CEREMONY

After the service, the King and Queen will travel in the Gold State Coach, which has been used at every coronation since 1831, from Westminster Abbey back to Buckingham Palace.

The coach, which weighs 4,000 kilograms and is pulled by eight Windsor Grey horses, has been described by Elizabeth as having a “horrible” ride.

Queen Victoria also described its "distressing oscillation," and William IV, known as the Sailor King, said a ride in the coach was like "being aboard a ship tossing in a rough sea."

The coach is so heavy it moves along at a slow enough pace that will give people lining the route the opportunity to see the King and Queen.

They will be joined by other members of the Royal Family, whose names have not been released; however, the Prince William and his wife, Catherine Middleton, are expected to join the procession, Hagan said.

Upon arriving at Buckingham Palace, the King and Queen will be saluted by military troops, which will be followed by three cheers from service members.

Following the procession, the King, the Queen Consort and other members of the Royal Family will appear on the balcony to conclude the day’s ceremonial events.

The public can expect to see the King and Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, likely Prince George, and perhaps Prince Edward and his wife, Sophia, who have been elevated with their new titles of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, Hagan said.

The image of the Royal Family on the balcony is mean to “cement in our minds that this is the new Royal Family, going forth, here we are in the new era,” Hagan said.

WHO IS INVITED TO THE CORONATION?

Westminster Abbey’s capacity is about 2,000 people and it’s expected to be filled with dignitaries, members of Parliament, and heads of state from around the world, including Humza Yousaf, the new First Minister of Scotland; Prince Albert of Monaco; and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

U.S. First Lady Jill Biden will be attending the coronation however her husband, the president, won't attend. Historically, American presidents have never attended the coronation.

In terms of family members, it was confirmed in April that Prince Harry will be attending while his wife, Meghan Markle, will stay behind.

Announcing the decision, the Palace said: “Buckingham Palace is pleased to confirm that The Duke of Sussex will attend the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey on May 6th.

“The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

It's unclear whether the Sussexes' children were invited. It's worth noting, however, that the coronation date falls on Prince Archie's 4th birthday.

Attention on the tense family dynamics has been fuelled by the publication of Harry’s memoir, which outlined allegations of a dysfunctional Royal Family behind closed doors.

"It would help Charles a lot in terms of his image if Harry and Meghan were there," royal historian Kate Williams previously told CNN. "It's particularly going to look bad for him if his son is not there because, of course, Harry still is very high in line to the throne, as are his children."

Prince William’s son George will “definitely be there,” Hagan said, “because let’s be honest, it’s going to be him one day…. Princess Charlotte will probably be there, I think she’s probably old enough."

However, it’s yet unclear whether Prince Louis, much-loved by the public for his mischievous behaviour, will be sitting in the Abbey.

Meanwhile, the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson has said she will not be attending the coronation because she is divorced to Prince Andrew and “you can't have it both ways.”

WHY IS THE CORONATION SO LONG AFTER THE QUEEN’S DEATH?

The coronation of the new monarch takes place after a period of mourning, in the months after the new sovereign’s accession and after enough time has passed that it is appropriate to mark the occasion.

CTV News royal commentator Richard Berthelsen says as far as planning periods go, “it’s actually a pretty short gap… there’s a lot of stuff to work out.”

In fact, the Queen’s coronation took place nearly 16 months after her father’s death, Berthelsen told CTVNews.ca.

“Considering all that has to be done and decided, they’re probably really scrambled because they chose to change virtually every aspect of the coronation this time.”

While there needed to be a period of mourning, and then a period of rest, the timing may also have something to do with the British weather, Hagan said, as the Royal Family hopes the public will be lining the streets not only for the coronation but for the festivities to follow.

The coronation will kick off the long bank holiday weekend’s festivities, which will include a special concert that will be broadcast live from Windsor Castle the next day, on Sunday, May 7.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. and is expected to last somewhere between two and three hours, rain or shine. Locations across the U.K. will be lit up using projections, lasers, drone displays and illuminations, according to the coronation website.

WHO WILL PERFORM?

The line-up of artists who will perform at the Coronation Concert includes Take That, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Andrea Bocelli, Sir Bryn Terfel, Freya Ridings and Alexis Ffrench, according to the BBC, which will produce the Coronation Concert.

In addition, the Coronation Choir will perform, which comprises members of the nation’s community choirs and amateur singers from across the United Kingdom, including “refugee choirs, NHS choirs, LGBTQ+ singing groups and deaf singing choirs.”

They will appear alongside the Virtual Choir, which comprises singers from across the Commonwealth.

The concert will also feature a selection of spoken word sequences, said the BBC, which is expecting 20,000 members of the public and invited guests.

Members of the public are also encouraged to hold a Coronation Big Lunch on their streets or in gardens, parks and community spaces between May 6 and 8 to mark the occasion, with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosting his own lunch event at Downing Street on May 7.

Meanwhile, Sunak has proclaimed Monday, May 8 as a special bank holiday.

On that day, members of the public are encouraged to take part in The Big Help Out, meant to highlight the impact of volunteering on communities.

The aim of the event is to bring communities together and “create a lasting volunteering legacy from the Coronation Weekend.”

With files from The Associated Press

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