Thousands of people packed central London and were forced to take shelter in heavy rain but hoped to catch a glimpse of the king and queen as they traveled in a carriage from Buckingham Palace to and from the Abbey.
As a reminder of Britain’s often turbulent religious past, the king began the ceremony with an oath: “I, Charles, solemnly and sincerely swear, testify, and declare that I am a faithful Protestant before God”.
The ceremony was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Charles III is the supreme ruler of the Church of England and the monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth countries.
While next month’s coronation will be less lavish than his mother’s 70 years ago, it will still be the biggest military ceremony in seven decades. It was the first time it was televised live in Australia. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned three years before the technology was introduced, to coincide with the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
The king purposely planned an inclusive service, inviting leaders of multiple faiths to play a role in the ceremony. The face of Britain has changed dramatically since Queen Elizabeth’s coronation – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is Hindu, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf are Muslim.
Sunak, who read from the Bible from Colossians, said the coronation was a “remarkable moment of national pride”.
“It is a proud expression of our history, culture and tradition. A vivid display of our country’s modernity. And a cherished ritual of the birth of a new era,” he said.
The archbishop’s earlier suggestion that the public should be invited to take part by taking an oath of allegiance to the king sparked some controversy. Jonathan Dimbleby, a senior BBC broadcaster and friend of the king, said he thought the monarch would find the idea “disgusting”. On Saturday, it was confirmed that the wording of the service would be changed.
In the original version, published by Lambeth Palace over the weekend, the archbishop will “call on all people of good will … to pay their respects”.
Instead, he invited people to “offer support,” stressing that some private reflection might be needed.
Although the service is broadcasting live to millions of viewers around the world, The monarch’s anointing ceremony takes place behind a screen, so the king had privacy during the sacred part of the ceremony. The archbishop anointed his hands, head and chest with holy oil.
This moment is masked because it is seen as a private and symbolic moment between the sovereign and God.
Prince Harry, The king’s second son left the abbey just over two years ago and now lives in California with his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and when he arrived at the abbey, his cousin Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank was by his side, looking relaxed, along with Princess Beatrice and her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.
He nodded and smiled to several members of the congregation, saying “hello” to people he knew. He sat next to his uncle Andrew, the Duke of York, who was booed as he drove down the shopping center in a state-run car ahead of his funeral.
Neither played an official role at the ceremony, the procession back to Buckingham Palace, nor appeared on the balcony.
The King’s representative in Australia, Governor-General David Hurley, was joined by several handpicked guests, including Australian women’s football captain Sam Kerr, singer-songwriter Nick Cave (Nick Cave) and Honored Privates Corporal Daniel Keighran (VC) and Richard Joyes (CV).
Former foreign minister Julie Bishop represents the Prince’s Trust in Australia. OECD Director-General Matthias Coleman and U.S. First Lady Jill Biden and Ukrainian First Lady Olenna Zelenska were also invited.
More than 25,000 police and security guarded the ceremony as organizers planned protests against visiting world leaders.
The head of the Republican campaign group, Graham Smith, was arrested in Trafalgar Square during an early morning march from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey. Five other demonstrators were also detained near the coronation route when they wore T-shirts that read “Not My King” and removed placards, the group said.
“The right to peaceful protest ends here,” the group said.
The Metropolitan Police said ahead of the event that they would set an “extremely low bar” for protests during the coronation ceremony, adding that demonstrators should expect “swift action”.
Some 7,000 servicemen and women from across the Commonwealth took part in the procession from the Abbey back to Buckingham Palace.
Prince William, now heir to the throne, played an active role in the service, while his son, Prince George, 9, was one of four boys to wear the king’s robes.
In the 24 hours leading up to the ceremony, the man who had spent years planning every detail of the coronation relaxed as he took time off from a day of official engagements and final rehearsals to walk the Princess of Wales with the Prince at The Mall.
He shook hands with dozens to remind him of the last time he greeted well-wishers outside the palace the day after his mother, Queen Elizabeth, died.
King Charles III laughed when one of them asked him if he was nervous. He clasped his hands and said to the crowd: “I pray you stay dry”.
Britain has a four-day weekend to mark the event, with street parties planned across the country, including a coronation concert on Sunday night UK time.
British boy band Take That, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry will perform on Windsor Castle’s East Lawn, with around 20,000 members of the public expected to attend.
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