Inside the Coronation of King Charles III

What we know about the coronation of the King, formerly known as Prince Charles.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales visits the new Emergency Service Station at Barnard Castle on February 15, 2018 in Durham, England.
(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty)

When his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away on September 8, 2022, the former Prince Charles automatically became King Charles III. In his first public address as king, Charles expressed his sorrow over his mother's death and his wishes moving forward. "Queen Elizabeth was a life well-lived; a promise with destiny kept and she is mourned most deeply in her passing. That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today," he said.

The new king formally ascended the throne in a formal ceremony on September 10, 2022, beginning what former British Prime Minister Liz Truss called, "our new Carolean age," in reference to the reign of King Charles I. Since then, Charles has begun settling into his new role with his first public address to the nation, calls to world leaders, and leading an Accession Council. Now, King Charles will formally be crowned during his coronation ceremony on May 6 in a three-day-long celebration

With the coronation just days away, we now know how the ceremony and following events will play out. Many aspects of King Charles' coronation were already set in stone, given that the royal family and the U.K. government keep a plan locked and loaded for every major royal family-related event. (The plan for Queen's death, for example, was known as Operation London Bridge.)

The last time the U.K. held a coronation was when Queen Elizabeth II took the throne nearly 70 years ago, so you can expect to see some changes for King Charles' coronation.

When is King Charles III's coronation?

King Charles' coronation will take place on Saturday, May 6 at 11 a.m. BST or 6 a.m. EST. The date is just about eight months from when he automatically ascended the throne on September 8, 2022. It's also the first time a coronation has been held on a weekend since King Edward's coronation in 1902. 

What will happen at King Charles' coronation?

As you might expect from a nation with a history as extensive as England, there is an established set of procedures and traditions for every coronation ceremony. The royal website writes that the coronation ceremony "has remained essentially the same over a thousand years," so you can expect many of the same events from Queen Elizabeth's coronation to occur at King Charles'.

Coronation. London, England: Queen Elizabeth, just after the crowning.

(Image credit: Bettman/Getty)

Like his mother's coronation and funeral, Charles's coronation will be televised for the whole world to see in real-time. The ceremony will take place at Westminster Abbey, where coronations have taken place for the last 900 years. The Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct the ceremony, with a service the Palace says will, "reflect the Monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry." During the ceremony, King Charles will be expected to take the coronation oath (which is required by law) and will then be anointed, blessed, and consecrated by the Archbishop, all while seated in the same chair every British ruler has used since 1300—King Edward's chair. 

The new king will be weighed down (literally) in jewels to represent the monarch's power. He'll receive the Sovereign's Scepter, which contains the world’s largest cut white diamond, and the royal orb to hold and have St. Edward's Crown (containing 444 gemstones) placed on his head. It's worth noting, though, that Charles will be diverting from traditional coronations in a shorter (and sweeter) ceremony, but more on that in a moment. 

You can also expect to see another piece of history at King Charles' coronation: the Stone of Destiny, or the Stone of Scone, as its commonly referred to. The Stone of Scone is a large piece of sandstone seen as a sacred, historic symbol of Scotland's monarchy. At Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953, the stone sat below her throne and was then sent back to its permanent home in Scotland's Edinburgh Castle. Now, the historical artifact will be returning to London's Westminster Abbey for Charles' coronation, per Reuters

Queen Elizabeth II After Her Coronation

(Image credit: Bettmann/Getty)

In a plan named "Operation Golden Orb," King Charles III and the palace have outlined a shorter, more streamlined coronation ceremony. According to a source for the Daily Mail, Charles' ceremony will be scaled back in comparison to his mother's. The source explained it will be "shorter, sooner, smaller, less expensive and more representative of different community groups and faiths." To compare,  Queen Elizabeth's coronation cost 1.57 million pounds in 1953—the equivalent of 46 million pounds today.

King Charles III will be leading the U.K. into a new era, and his coronation will take place in a more progressive period than Queen Elizabeth's did, so it makes sense why he would want to take a more modern approach to his introduction as ruler. That said, although Charles wants to reflect a modern-day Britain at his coronation, it will still be an Anglican service. Additionally, the palace will have to consider new health and safety precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Will Queen Consort Camilla play a role in the coronation?

Back in February of 2022, just seven months before her death, Queen Elizabeth II released a groundbreaking statement expressing her wish for then-Prince Charles' wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, to take the title of "Queen Consort" once he takes the throne. However, invitations for the ceremony dropped the "Consort" from Camilla's title, so it seems she will simply be known as "Queen Camilla." With her new title, Parker-Bowles will  be crowned alongside King Charles III in "a similar but simpler ceremony." 

The last time a Queen Consort was crowned was in 1937, when Queen Elizabeth's mother was crowned alongside King George VI. Even the queen's husband, Prince Philip, was not allowed to be crowned and instead knelt before his wife at her coronation. Queen Camilla is set to have Queen Mary’s Crown placed on her head,  the first time in recent history that an existing crown will be used for the coronation of a consort instead of a new commission being made. The crown will pay special homage to Queen Elizabeth II using jewels from the late's queens personal jewelry collection that she often were as brooches. 

King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon & Crown Princess Mette-Marit Of Norway Visit The United Kingdom.Banquet At Buckingham Palace With Queen Elizabeth Ii, The Duke Of Edinburgh, The Prince Of Wales & The Duchess Of Cornwall.

(Image credit: Julian Parker/Getty)

Who will be at King Charles' coronation?

A royal event on this scale will draw thousands of visitors from all over the world, so who can you expect to see at Westminster Abbey? Short answer: Just about everyone. Aside from the royal family, you can expect to see royals from many countries in attendance as well as reps from Houses of Parliament, and “leading citizens” from Commonwealth countries. 

Despite the likely grandeur of King Charles' coronation, the guest list has shortened quite a bit from Queen Elizabeth's. The queen had over 8,000 dignitaries in attendance at her coronation, whereas Charles wants to limit the guest list to a modest 2,000. However, Charles' coronation is considered a state occasion, meaning the U.K. government will pay for the event and ultimately has the final say on the guest list. See the full breakdown of King Charles' coronation guest list

What will happen after King Charles' coronation?

In regal fashion, King Charles and Queen Camilla will  travel in the Gold Coach after the coronation in a much grander ceremonial procession aptly known as  "The Coronation Procession." The procession will include members of the royal family, as well as Armed Forces from the UK, the Commonwealth, and the British Overseas Territories, alongside the Monarch’s bodyguard. 

Coronation. London, England: Queen Elizabeth, just after the crowning.

(Image credit: Bettman/Getty)

The newly crowned King and Queen Consort will travel in style in the Gold Coach to Buckingham Palace. The coach is the third oldest surviving coach in the UK and dates back to 1760. It was first used in 1762 by King George III to travel to the State Opening of Parliament, and most recently used by Queen Elizabeth II during her Platinum Jubilee celebration in June 2022. 

At the palace, Charles and Camilla will end the day's events by greeting the country on the palace balcony, as is tradition for most state events. However, this time around will likely be a much more slimmed-down version of the royal family. Just 15 members of the royal family are expected to be permitted on the balcony and they must be working royal members, per the Mirror.  This includes the Cambridges, Princess Anne and her husband, Prince Edward and his wife, the Duke of Kent alongside his sister Princess Alexandra, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Prince Harry and Prince Andrew are not expected to join their family on the balcony following the coronation as they are not working members of the royal family. 

The coronation celebration doesn't end on May 6, however. On the following day, a special Coronation Concert will be held at Windsor Castle where Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Andrea Bocelli, The Coronation Choir, and more are expected to perform. 

Finally, Monday, May 8 will be a bank holiday, with members of the public encouraged to volunteer for their local communities. 

If you're currently outside the U.K., you can use a VPN like ExpressVPN—which has a 30-day free trial—to watch the coronation live on the BBC, which aired Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.

Brooke Knappenberger
Associate Commerce Editor

Brooke Knappenberger is the Associate Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from fashion and beauty to books and celebrities. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.