King Charles III acceded to the throne of the United Kingdom when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022. His coronation takes place today. He and his wife Camilla will officially be anointed and crowned as the King and Queen of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth realms. In honor of the momentous occasion, let’s look at some of the places that will be featured in the weekend’s ceremonial and celebratory events.
The official London residence of the monarch, Buckingham Palace is where the day’s events will begin, and it’s where the royal family will gather to greet the crowds. After the King and Queen return from the coronation, they will gather on the West Terrace. There will be six minutes of fly-overs from military aircraft, as well as cheers from the armed forces, and lots of jubilation from the crowd.
The Palace is the administrative center of the monarchy, and has been since the time of Queen Victoria. During World War II, the Palace was hit by German bombs several times, once even when the king and queen were in residence! It was on the West Terrace that the royal family greeted rejoicing crowds when the war was officially declared over in 1945.
Coronation at Westminster Abbey
The Coronation, where Charles will be crowned and anointed, will take place at Westminster Abbey. The church has been the site of 39 coronations, dating back to William the Conqueror. The most recent coronation was for Elizabeth II, way back in 1953.
The gorgeous Gothic cathedral was originally constructed in 1065, and has been added on to and enhanced, and repaired several times. It was struck by German bombs in World War II, bombed by suffragettes in 1914, and burned several times in its history, but the structure still stands, a testament to the strength and longevity of the British people and their monarchy.
On Saturday morning, King Charles and Queen Camilla will leave Buckingham Palace and travel by the Gold State Coach the 1.3 miles to Westminster Abbey. Along the way, they will greet crowds waiting to pay tribute to the royals and witness the monumental event. The procession will involve 4,000 personnel, mostly made up of ceremonial military officials.
The Victoria Memorial, honoring Queen Victoria, sits in front of Buckingham Palace, and is on the route the King and Queen will take to and from Westminster Abbey. The Memorial is often a centerpiece of London’s activity. It is the finishing line for the London Marathon, was a backdrop of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, and part of the London Olympics celebrations.
Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle
On Sunday, the celebrations will continue, with a Coronation Big Lunch encouraged across the country. This is a British tradition where people gather in their community for a picnic style lunch or gathering to celebrate the coronation, and the country.
Later in the evening on Sunday, there will be a Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle, with 10,000 tickets being given to the general public. Tom Cruise, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Andrea Bocelli, and Tiwa Savage will headline the show.
Windsor Castle has played an important part of royal life since it was constructed by William the Conqueror. It was expanded by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and then remodeled again in the 1700s. The royal family often stayed here during World War II to avoid the bombings, and Elizabeth II spent most of her time here in her later years.
Crown Jewels at the Tower of London
The coronation is built on tradition and ceremony, and an important part of that is the crown and associated jewels worn by the king and queen. King Charles will wear the St. Edward’s Crown, which is modeled on a crown possibly dating back to Edward the Confessor.
The current crown was built in 1661 and weighs a heavy five pounds! But he will wear at least one other crown during the event. When he leaves the coronation he will wear the Imperial State Crown. Charles will also hold the Sovereign’s Sceptre, and Cross and Orb, which are important symbols representing the sovereign’s authority, and the Christian world.
The jewels, when not being used for the coronation, are kept safely at the Tower of London, where they are often on public display. The Tower was also founded during the reign of William the Conqueror, and originally used as a defensive castle for the king. Later, it has been used as a prison for high-profile prisoners including Anne Boleyn, and as a secure storage for the royal treasure.
Whether you’re a big fan of the royal family, or watching the weekend’s events for their historical value, knowing a little about the places and important items will make it all the more fun, and meaningful. And as long as he reigns in generosity and kindness, we can all say, “Long live the king!”