WASHINGTON — Pomp and pageantry will take center stage Saturday in Britain as King Charles III is coronated. The ceremony — a toned-down version compared to the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 — will nonetheless feature centuries-old props, ancient traditions and grand processions.
When is the coronation?
Charles's coronation will take place on Saturday, May 6, 2023. Along with the ancient ceremony at Westminster Abbey, the day's schedule includes processions and a royal appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Other events to mark the occasion include a BBC-produced Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle, starring performers like Lionel Ritchie and Katy Perry. In a Monday event dubbed "The Big Help Out," people across the U.K. will be encouraged to volunteer for local causes.
What time does the coronation start in the United States?
Americans tuning in to watch the ceremony will need to get up early. Charles' coronation service at Westminster Abbey starts at 11 a.m. in London, which is 6 a.m. Eastern, 5 a.m. Central, 4 a.m. Mountain and 3 a.m. Pacific. The service is expected to last about two hours.
The ceremony itself isn't the only traditional event planned for Saturday. Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, will travel to and from the service in processions — including the large ceremonial "Coronation Procession" with other royals afterwards, which will last about 30 minutes. Once the newly-crowned king and queen arrive back at Buckingham Palace, they'll appear on the balcony to wave at spectators.
Streets will be lined with union flags, spectators will dress in red, white and blue, and military jets will fly overhead streaming plumes of smoke in the national colors. With opinion polls showing support for the monarchy has weakened in recent years, this is the chance for Charles to seek and showcase the public's embrace.
How do I watch the coronation in the US?
Elizabeth's coronation 70 years ago was the first to be televised live. The broadcast in black and white drew an audience of tens of millions in Britain and was later played to a worldwide audience. Now, people will be able to watch Charles' crowning live from virtually anywhere on the planet — and post their hot takes with a crown emoji created for the occasion.
Major networks in the US are planning coverage of the coronation, with many sending correspondents to London for live reports. Online livestreams will also be available from outlets including the BBC.
What's different this time around?
Westminster Abbey has been the setting of the ritual since William the Conqueror was crowned in 1066. The hallmarks of the ceremony itself have remained mostly unchanged over the centuries.
There are plenty of differences between this coronation and the last one, though. Charles' two-hour ceremony and 1.3-mile procession route are both shorter, and no more than 2,800 guests will attend the service — far fewer than the 8,000 who assembled for Elizabeth's.
In a nod to the change in the religious makeup of the United Kingdom, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh religious leaders will play a role at the coronation. That reflects Charles' vow to be “the defender of faiths,” as opposed to the “defender of the faith.”
Symbolically, Charles will open the service by facing a young choirboy and pledging to serve — not to be served — and he has scrapped the centuries-old tradition of having the most senior members of the aristocracy pledge their loyalty to him. Instead, the congregation and those watching at home will be invited to pledge allegiance to the king.