King Charles III CROWN Saturday at Westminster Abbey, which received the bejeweled St. Edward’s Crown in a ceremony built on ancient tradition at a time when the monarchy is trying to stay relevant in a fractured modern Britain.
Trumpets were sounded inside the medieval abbey and the congregation shouted “God save the king!” in a service attended by more than 2,000 guests, including world leaders, aristocrats and celebrities. Outside, thousands of troops, tens of thousands of spectators and a handful of protesters gathered.
The crowd of well-wishers swelled to hundreds of thousands by the time the newly crowned Charles and Queen Camilla came out to wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace alongside the younger generation of the royal family.
This is the culmination of a seven decade journey for the king from the heir to the king.
For the royal family and government, the occasion – called Operation Golden Orb – is a demonstration of heritage, tradition and landscape unmatched in the entire world.
To the crowds gathered under the rainy skies – thousands of them camped out overnight – it was a chance to be part of a historic occasion.
But for millions more, the day was greeted with a shrug, the awe and respect that the ceremony was designed to inspire in many.
And for some, that was reason to protest. Hundreds who wanted to see Britain become a republic gathered to shout ” Not my king.” They see the monarchy as an institution that stands for privilege and inequality, in a country deepening poverty and deteriorating social relations. A handful were arrested.
At the start of the day, the abbey was abuzz with excitement and blossomed with fragrant flowers and colorful hats as the congregation of international dignitaries, dignitaries and other notables arrived. Among them are US First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, eight current and former British prime ministers, judges in wigs, soldiers with glittering medals, and celebrities including Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and Lionel Richie.
During a traditional Anglican service slightly modified for modern times, Charles, dressed in red and cream robes, swore on a Bible that he was a “true Protestant.”
But a preamble was added to the coronation oath that said the Church of England would “seek to promote an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs can live freely,” and the epistle from King James Bible read by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Britain’s first Hindu leader.
A gospel choir performed the newly composed “Alleluia,” and, for the first time, a female clergy participated in the ceremony. It was also the first to include representatives of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh faiths.
In an ancient display of royal power, Charles was anointed with oil from the Mount of Olives in the Holy Land – a part of the ceremony so sacred it was hidden behind screens – and presented with an orb, swords and sceptres.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby then placed the solid gold crown, studded with more than 400 precious stones, on Charles’ head, as he sat in the 700-year-old oak Coronation Chair — once gilded, now worn and covered with graffiti. Under the seat is a sacred tablet known as the Stone of Scone, on which the ancient kings of Scotland were crowned.
For 1,000 years and more, the British monarchs crowned with such grand ceremonies which confirms their right to rule. Charles is the 40th sovereign to be enthroned at the abbey – and, at 74, the oldest.
These days, the king has no executive or political power, and the service is purely ceremonial since Charles automatically becomes king. death of his motherQueen Elizabeth II, last September.
The king remains the UK’s head of state and a symbol of national identity – and Charles must work to put together a multicultural country and strengthening support for the monarchy at a time when it is waning, especially among young people.
Today’s public is very different from the audience that saw Elizabeth crowned. Almost 20% of the population today are from ethnic minority groups, compared to less than 1% in the 1950s, and less than half of the population describe themselves as Christian.
The anti-monarchy group Republic said six of its members, including its chief executive, were arrested when they arrived at a protest. Police, who warned they have “low tolerance” for people trying to disrupt the day, said four people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public disturbance.
The environmental group Just Stop Oil said that more than a dozen of its members were also arrested.
The detentions sparked criticism that police were suppressing freedom of speech, and Human Rights Watch said the arrests were “something you’d expect to see in Moscow, not London.”
The multimillion-pound cost of all the splendor – the exact figure is unknown – also ranks some a cost of living crisis that means many Britons are struggling to pay energy bills and buy food.
However, Charles intends to lead a smaller, less expensive royal machine for the 21st century. His relationship was shorter than Elizabeth’s three-hour coronationwith fewer guests and an abbreviated procession.
The famously feuding royal family put on its own show of unity. The heir to the throne Prince William, his wife, Kate, and their three children were all in attendance. At the end of the ceremony, William knelt before his father and pledged allegiance to the king—before kissing him on the cheek.
Welby then invited everyone in the abbey to swear “true allegiance” to the monarch. He said people watching on television could also pay tribute – although that part of the ceremony was scaled back after some criticized it as a tone-deaf effort to demand a public oath of allegiance for to Charles.
William’s younger brother Prince Harry, who has publicly sparred with the family, came alone. His wife Meghan and their children remain at home in California, where the couple have lived since the royal family stopped working in 2020.
As Charles and key members of the royal family joined a magnificent military procession after the ceremony, Harry stood waiting outside the abbey until a car arrived to whisk him away.
Large crowds cheered as Charles and Camilla rode in the Gold State Carriage from the Abbey to Buckingham Palace, accompanied by a procession of 4,000 troops and military bands playing tunes.
As the king and queen waved to the sea of people outside the palace, the Royal Air Force aerobatic team, the Red Arrows, sped overhead, trailing red, white and blue feathers.
“This is just to be surrounded by love and see our King Charles. He’s our mainstay,” said Jill Coughlin, a royal fan from Essex, east London. “We love our queen and it’s extra generations. So it’s amazing for us, really amazing.”
Associated Press writers Sylvia Hui and Brian Melley contributed to this report.