King Charles’ coronation is almost upon us. Here’s what you need to know

The coronation of the King is less than a week away, and for most Australians this will be our first chance to see the centuries-old ceremony.

Although the sovereign is expected to feature in a modern, slimmed-down coronation – recognising the changing face of Britain, the Commonwealth and the monarchy’s role within it – much of the pageantry on May 6 will draw upon hundreds of years of tradition.

Britain is gearing up for a day-long celebration, and whether you’re a monarchist or republican, it will be hard to escape the event.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronation of King Charles III.

What’s a coronation?

A coronation is “the act or occasion of crowning”, comprising a symbolic religious ceremony when the crown is placed on the monarch’s head.

Although the King acceded to the throne immediately on the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, the coronation is when he is officially crowned.

As the BBC says, the coronation formalises “the monarch’s role as the head of the Church of England and marks the transfer of their title and powers”.

Time and date

The coronation of the King and his wife, Queen Camilla, takes place on Saturday, May 6.

In Australia, the ceremony begins at 6pm AEST with the arrival of guests before the coronation service from 11am London time (8pm AEST).


The service will take place at Westminster Abbey, with processions and events across London.

The King and Queen head to the abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach accompanied by the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry as part of a procession from Buckingham Palace along the Mall, through Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and down Parliament Street to Westminster Abbey.

After the ceremony, they will return to Buckingham Palace in a larger procession along the same route aboard the Gold State Coach, accompanied by other royals, armed forces from across Britain and the Commonwealth, as well as the Sovereign’s Bodyguard and Royal Watermen.


The procession takes a similar route to Queen Elizabeth’s in 1953. Photo:

Once at the palace, they will appear on the balcony and greet the crowds as the newly crowned King and Queen.

What happens in the service?

As you would expect from a church ceremony, the coronation at the Abbey is steeped in religious symbolism.

The coronation procession will be led by the Cross of Wales, which will include fragments of a relic known as the True Cross, given to the King by Pope Francis as a coronation gift.

The coronation service will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and includes six key elements:

  1. The recognition: King Charles will stand beside the 700-year-old oak Coronation Chair at the start of the ceremony as the archbishop presents him to the congregants. The congregation will shout “God Save the King” in response 
  2. The oath: The King will swear to uphold the Church of England and the law
  3. The anointing: He will remove his ceremonial robe before sitting in the Coronation Chair as the Archbishop of Canterbury anoints him with holy oil that has been specially consecrated in Jerusalem by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem. The anointing is considered a private moment and takes place behind a specially-made ‘anointing screen’. It will not be filmed
  4. The investiture: The King will be presented with two sceptres and an orb as the symbols of his office. The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove represents his spiritual role, while the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross represents his temporal power and good governance. The orb represents “religious and moral authority”. The coronation ring will be placed on the King’s right hand
  5. The enthronement or crowning: After the monarch is presented with his orb and sceptres, the archbishop places the crown on his head
  6. The homage: At previous coronations, the archbishop, royal blood princes and other senior aristocrats kneel to pay homage and swear allegiance to the monarch. On Saturday, in a break with tradition, only Prince William will perform that role. He will place his hands between those of his father to say: “I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you and faith and truth I will bear unto you, as your liege man of life and limb. So help me God.” He will then kiss his father on the cheek
  7. Public invitation: In a change from tradition, those watching the coronation at home or elsewhere – including in Australia and other Commonwealth nations – will be invited to join in the homage, which reads: “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.” The Archbishop of Canterbury will say: “God save the King,” to which the people will reply: “God save King Charles. Long live King Charles. May the King live for ever.”

The anointing screen has been specially made for Charles’ coronation. Photo:

After the King’s ceremony, his wife will be anointed and crowned as Queen.

Twelve original compositions will be performed during the coronation ceremony, including works by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Judith Weir and Patrick Doyle.

Who will take part in the ceremony?

The King and Queen will each be attended by four pages of honour. The King’s pages will be his grandson Prince George, Ralph Tollemache, Oliver Cholmondeley and Nicholas Barclay. The Queen’s are her grandsons Gus and Louis Lopes, and Freddy Parker Bowles, as well as her grand-nephew, Arthur Elliot.

The Queen will also have two ladies in attendance – her sister Annabel Elliot and close friend Lady Lansdowne.

The King’s sister, Princess Anne, will serve as a symbolic bodyguard to the royal household, or Gold-Stick-in-Waiting, during the Coronation procession, riding on horseback from the abbey to Buckingham Palace.

The ceremonial role, which dates back to Tudor times, historically goes to a person entrusted with the personal safety of the monarch.

What crowns are used?

The St Edward’s Crown will be used in the coronation; it features a solid gold frame, some 444 precious gems and weighs more than two kilos.

Buckingham Palace said the crown was commissioned from Royal goldsmith Robert Vyner in 1661.

“Although it is not an exact replica of the medieval design, it follows the original in having four crosses-pattée and four fleurs-de-lis, and two arches. It is made up of a solid gold frame set with rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnet, topazes and tourmalines.”


Charles’ crown was made in the 17th century. Photo:

The Queen, meanwhile, will wear an altered version of Queen Mary’s 1911 coronation crown.

Designed for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in June 1911, the crown is set with 2200 diamonds.

Who will be there?

Westminster Abbey is expected to be a full house of about 2000 guests, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the British royal family and the Queen’s family.

Also in attendance will be members of foreign royalty, delegates from Commonwealth nations and representatives of charities supported by the King and Queen. Some 450 recipients of the British Empire Medal have also been invited.

What about the Sussexes?

The King’s younger son Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have both been invited, but only Harry is expected to attend.

The couple have said Meghan will remain at their home in California with their children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet. The coronation falls on Archie’s fourth birthday.

It’s on the ABC

ABC and ABC News will broadcast the coronation live from London, with coverage starting from 5pm AEST.

The Nine network (Channel 9, 9Gem and 9Now) will also broadcast live from 5pm while the Seven network (Channel 7 and 7Plus) will start proceedings an hour earlier at 4pm AEST.

The BBC News coverage can be accessed via Foxtel and Fetch subscriptions and online through

The Ten network will screen the Ceremony Of The Coronation Of Their Majesties live in all cities from 4:30pm.

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