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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Crowds gather in London for moment in history as King Charles is crowned

Crowds from across Britain and the world gathered on Saturday in London where Charles III will be crowned king in Britain's biggest ceremonial event for seven decades, a sumptuous display of pageantry dating back 1,000 years.

Dawn broke Saturday in a British capital dripping in regalia as huge crowds gathered for the coronation of Kings Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla, a ceremony celebrated in the 21st century for the first time.

Royal fans camped out overnight along the London procession route, hoping to secure front-row seats to the celebration.

According to details revealed by Duke of Norfolk Edward Fitzalan-Howard, who is overseeing the coronation, Westminster Abbey will receive some 2,300 guests, including 100 heads of state and, for the first time, kings of other countries.

Read more: Commonwealth’s Indigenous representatives demand King Charles apologize for colonialism

As preparations for the coronation began, it was decided that the ceremony would be different from the one that took place in 1953 for the king’s mother, Elizabeth II, including fewer people.

“It was agreed in the early stages of planning that it would not be possible to close the abbey for five months to build the extra seating to allow 8,000 people to attend… due to the cost, and the challenges of installing new seating within this ancient building, and the impact it would have on the abbey’s regular program,” he told local media.

The procession will leave Buckingham Palace at 10.20 am local time (09:20 GMT) and will wind through the streets of central London, carrying Charles and Camilla to Westminster to begin the ceremony at 11 am.

With representatives of different religions for the first time, the service will be accompanied by 12 newly-commissioned pieces of music by composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Patrick Doyle.

The ceremony will culminate in the Archbishop of Canterbury placing St Edward’s Crown on the king’s head at 12.01 pm.

The abbey bells will then ring for two minutes, trumpets will be played and gun salutes will take place across the United Kingdom, including a 62-round salute fired at the Tower of London. Finally, the king will take the throne.

Read more: King Charles richer than his mother – Sunday Times

Queen Camilla will also be anointed, crowned and enthroned in a simpler ceremony.

The new king and queen will then return to Buckingham Palace along the same procession route in the 260-year-old Gold State Coach.

Once back in the palace, another of the most anticipated moments will take place: the traditional public greeting from the balcony.

The media continue to speculate about which members of the royal family will accompany the couple – especially whether Prince Harry, Charles’ youngest son, will have any role since he left the royal family in 2020.

The military flypast of 60 planes over the heads of the attendees at 2.30 pm will end the festivities, before Charles and Camilla retire in private with their families.

In a message on Friday night, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stressed that the coronation will be a “moment of extraordinary national pride.”

“No other country could put on such a dazzling display — the processions, the pageantry, the ceremonies, and street parties,” he said in a statement.

“But this is not just a spectacle. It’s a proud expression of our history, culture, and traditions. A vivid demonstration of the modern character of our country. And a cherished ritual through which a new era is born.” EFE