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, beginning what 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. However, King Charles' actual coronation ceremony will not take place for months—likely not until 2023

That said, we already have a good idea about what it'll look like: Many aspects of King Charles' coronation are 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?

Queen Elizabeth's coronation was held a year and four months after her accession, so you can expect a similar timeline for Charles'. The palace released a schedule of mourning following the queen's passing, which includes King Charles' wish for a period of Royal Mourning until September 26, seven days after the queen's funeral on Monday, September 19. It's likely that plans for Charles' coronation will be put on hold until the royal mourning period has ended. 

According to the Daily Mail, the coronation will probably happen within the next year, so before the fall of 2023. The Telegraph speculates that it will be held next spring or summer and may even take place on the 70th anniversary of the queen's coronation, which would be June 2, 2023. 

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 likely be a bank holiday in the U.K. and 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, and King Charles will be expected to take the coronation oath. Charles will then be anointed, blessed, and consecrated by the Archbishop, all while seated in the same chair every British ruler has used since 1626—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 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 Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. Now, the historical artifact will be returning to London's Westminster Abbey for Charles' coronation, per The Telegraph

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." 

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. 

Even the U.S. might play a role in the king's coronation. Marc Gaden, deputy executive secretary for the Fishery Commission, has said he's expecting a call from the monarchy for a shipment of lampreys. What do parasitic fish have to do with the king's coronation, you might ask? Well, the Fishery Commission has been shipping lampreys to England for nearly two decades for major royal occasions in order to make the lamprey pie,  a traditional gift to the monarchy that goes back centuries. “The most recent time that we supplied them was in 2015 when Queen Elizabeth marked being the longest serving monarch in British history, and we sent over a batch. So, we are a tiny little part of history,” Gaden told USA Today (opens in new tab). Now Gaden is expecting to make another shipment of the fish when the date of Charles' coronation is set. 

Will Queen Consort Camilla play a role in the coronation?

Back in February, 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. With her new title, Parker-Bowles will likely 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. The Queen Consort is set to have the same diamond and platinum crown placed on her head as the Queen Mother did in 1937 at Charles' coronation. 

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, including president Joe Biden and his wife Jill—who were also at Queen Elizabeth's funeral—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.

One major royal family member who might not show up to Charles' coronation is Prince Harry. Since Charles' coronation will more than likely follow tradition and be held at Westminster Abbey, Harry may decline to attend out of respect for his late mother, Princess Diana, whose funeral was held there in 1997. 

What will happen after King Charles' coronation?

In regal fashion, King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will be expected to travel in the Gold Coach after the coronation. The massive gilded coach was built in 1760 and was last used by Queen Elizabeth II for her Golden Jubilee in 2002, so it's probably in need of a few upgrades.

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 where they will greet the country on the palace balcony, as is tradition. However, this time around may be a much more slimmed-down version of the royal family. A source told the Daily Mail, "I wouldn't be surprised to see just Charles and Camilla, Kate and William and their children on the Buckingham Palace balcony afterwards."

However, that's not to say Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will definitely not appear on the balcony. Christopher Anderson, author of The Day Diana Died, seems to think that the former royals may be invited out on the balcony, but it all depends on the aftereffects of Harry's upcoming memoir. “If Charles can make it happen, I think they will,” Andersen told Us Weekly. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Brooke Knappenberger
Editorial Fellow

Brooke Knappenberger is the Editorial Fellow at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from books and celebrities to fashion and beauty. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. Brooke is a proud St. Louis native and is currently living in New York City. Outside of work, you can find her either jamming out to Drake, reading a Sarah J. Maas novel, or shamelessly online shopping.