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King Charles’ coronation: Millions savour sumptuous display of royal pageantry, history and change

King Charles III has been anointed and crowned in a display of pomp and pageantry that sought to marry 1000 years of history with a monarchy fit for a new era.

In front of a congregation including about 2000 people and a television audience of millions, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, slowly placed the 360-year-old St Edward’s Crown on Charles’ head as he sat upon a 14th-century throne in Westminster Abbey.

During a historic and solemn two-hour service, which dates back to the time of King William the Conqueror in 1066, Charles’ second wife Camilla was also crowned Queen.

A huge military procession followed – Britain’s biggest ceremonial event for seven decades – gun salutes were fired, thousands of soldiers roared three cheers and there was a scaled-down flypast by military aircraft as the newly-crowned King Charles and Queen Camilla waved from the balcony of Buckingham Palace to cheering crowds who gathered on The Mall boulevard.

While rooted in history, the ceremony – televised for only the second time – was also an attempt to present a forward-looking institution and to reflect a more diverse country with all its religions.

“No other country could put on such a dazzling display – the processions, the pageantry, the ceremonies, and street parties,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

Britain turned on the The largest military display in 70 years. Photo: Getty

Charles, 74, automatically succeeded his mother as king on her death last September.

The coronation is not essential but regarded as a means to legitimise the new sovereign in a public way.

Saturday’s event was on a smaller scale than that staged for Queen Elizabeth in 1953 but still sought to be spectacular.

There was an array of historical regalia from golden orbs and bejewelled swords to a sceptre holding the world’s largest colourless cut diamond.

After the service, Charles and Camilla, 75, departed in the four-tonne Gold State Coach to ride to Buckingham Palace in a one-mile procession of 4000 military personnel from 39 countries.

Tens of thousands of people ignored pouring rain to mass on the streets to watch what some saw as a moment of history.

Inside the abbey, which was bedecked with flowers and flags, politicians and dignitaries from around the world such as US first lady Jill Biden took their seats alongside charity workers and celebrities, including actors Emma Thompson, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Australian singer Nick Cave and US singer Katy Perry.

Charles looked solemn as he swore oaths to govern justly and uphold the Church of England – of which he is the titular head.

He was then hidden from watching eyes by a screen for the most sacred part of the ceremony when he was anointed on his hands, head and breast by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with holy oil consecrated in Jerusalem.

After being presented with symbolic regalia, the Archbishop placed the St Edward’s Crown on his head and the congregation cried out “God save the King”.

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The festivities culminated with an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony. Photo: Getty

Gun salutes were fired at the Tower of London and across the capital, the UK, in Gibraltar, Bermuda and on ships at sea.

His eldest son and heir Prince William, 40, knelt before his father to pledge his loyalty as his “liegeman of life and limb,” both moments greeted by cheers from crowds outside.

They sat in the third row behind working members of the royal family and neither appeared on the palace balcony.

Not everyone who came to watch was there to cheer Charles, with hundreds of republicans booing and waving banners reading “Not My King”.

The Republic campaign group said its leader had been arrested along with five other protesters.

The Duke of York was booed as he was driven to the coronation ceremony of his brother the King.

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Thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace to greet the King and Queen. Photo: Getty

Prince Andrew was driven down The Mall in a state car towards Westminster Abbey, with members of the crowd in a grandstand in front of Buckingham Palace booing as he went past.

Buckingham Palace had earlier said he  and his nephew the Duke of Sussex would not have any formal role at the event as they are no longer working royals.

Prince Louis seen yawning, fidgeting

Five-year-old Prince Louis attended Westminster Abbey with his parents the Prince and Princess of Wales and siblings Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

During the first half of the ceremony, he could be seen letting out a big yawn, while also taking the opportunity to point out something of interest to his sister Charlotte.

He yawned again shortly after the King was crowned, just after midday.

A short while later, television footage showed that Prince Louis was no longer with his parents and sister in the front row of the abbey.

The deeply religious and solemn ceremony is two hours long. Louis was not at his great-grandmother Elizabeth II’s funeral in September.

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The two-hour ceremony may have been too much for Prince Louis. Photo: Getty

Louis has become known for entertaining royal fans with his reactions during royal celebrations.

In a personal tweet thanking those who turned out in 2022, William and Kate wrote: “We all had an incredible time, especially Louis… ”

‘One or two hiccups’ – Bishop

A member of the clergy has admitted there were “one or two” hiccups during the King’s coronation service.

Speaking outside St Margaret’s Church next to Westminster Abbey, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, 56, said there were “one or two things that didn’t go strictly to plan”.

Pushed for details, the bishop said: “I’m not going to embarrass anyone in particular.”

During the service, the Archbishop of Canterbury spent several seconds adjusting the crown as the King was officially crowned.

As St Edward’s Crown was placed on the King’s head, there was complete silence in Westminster Abbey as the congregation stood for the occasion.

The archbishop placed it on the King’s head firmly, before giving it a twist in an attempt to keep it on.

But after the twist failed to work he lifted the crown up again, before having another go at securing it in position.

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King Charles was crowned amid fanfare and acclimation. Photo: BBC TV

After his second attempt the crown tipped forwards on the King’s head.

The archbishop then tilted it to the side before he was happy to remove his hands from the crown.

The official crowning of the King took about eight seconds in total.

Albanese leaves UK after coronation

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has extended an invitation to Charles to make his 17th visit and first as King to Australia, is on his way home from the United Kingdom after the coronation.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who did not attend the London ceremony, said the coronation was a momentous occasion for the British people, Australians and all citizens of the Commonwealth.

The avowed monarchist noted that the King respected the right of all the peoples of the Commonwealth to determine their own destiny, including moves to a republic.

“In 1994, Charles said that whatever course Australia takes, that is something which only the Australian people can decide,” he added.

Mr Albanese, a self-proclaimed “lifelong republican,” described the coronation as a “historic event of enormous significance”.

He is returning to Canberra ahead of the federal budget on Tuesday.

At 3pm on Sunday, a 21-gun salute, by Australia’s Federation Guard, will be held on the forecourt of Parliament House in Canberra.

This will be followed by a flypast from the Royal Australian Air Force to mark the coronation.

Australian singer Nick Cave, who lives in the UK these days and attended the coronation as part of the Australian delegation, had said earlier in the week it would “more than likely be the most important historical event in the UK of our age. Not just the most important, but the strangest, the weirdest.”

— AAP

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