LONDON (AP) – King Charles III is crowned On Saturday at Westminster Abbey, he received St Edward’s bejeweled tiara in a ceremony building on ancient tradition at a time when the monarchy is striving to remain relevant in a divided modern Britain.
Trumpets sounded inside the medieval monastery and the congregation shouted “God save the King!” in service It was attended by more than 2,000 guests, including world leaders, aristocrats and celebrities. Outside, thousands of troops, tens of thousands of spectators, and a few protesters gathered.
The crowd of well-wishers swelled to hundreds of thousands by the time newly crowned Charles and Queen Camilla appeared to wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace along with the younger generations of royals.
It was the culmination of a seven-decade journey To the king from heir to king.
For the royal family and government, the occasion – dubbed Operation Golden Orb – was a display of heritage, tradition and spectacle. Unparalleled all over the world.
For the crowds gathered under a rainy sky—thousands of whom had camped overnight—this was an opportunity to be part of a historic occasion.
But for millions more, the day was greeted with sneers, and the awe and respect the ceremony was designed to evoke were largely over.
And for a few of them, it was cause for protest. Hundreds who want to see Britain become a republic have gathered to shout “Not mine!”. They see the monarchy as an institution that defends privilege and inequality, in a country where poverty is increasing and social ties are being shaken. A handful have been arrested.
As the day began, the monastery was filled with excitement and was thriving with fragrant flowers and colorful hats as international dignitaries, nobles and other notables gathered to arrive. Among them were 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 shiny medals, and celebrities including Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and Lionel Richie.
During a traditional evangelistic service slightly modified for modern times, Charles, dressed in scarlet and cream robes, swears on the Bible that he is a “true Protestant”.
But a preface to the Coronation Oath was added to say that the Church of England would “endeavour to promote an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs can live freely”, and the message from the King James Bible was read by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Britain’s first Hindu leader.
The gospel choir performed the newly formed “Hallelujah”, and for the first time, female priests participated in the ceremony. It was also the first to include representatives of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh religions.
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 that it was hidden behind screens—and presented with orbs, swords, and rams.
Then the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby placed the tiara of solid gold, adorned with more than 400 precious stones, on Charles’ head, while he sat on the coronation chair made of 700 years old oak – once set in gold, now worn and engraved with drawings on it. Below the seat is a sacred slab known as the Scone Stone, upon which the ancient Scottish kings were crowned.
For 1,000 years and more, British monarchs have been crowned in such lavish ceremonies that assert their right to rule. Charles was the 40th monarch to be enthroned in the abbey – and the oldest at 74.
These days, the king no longer held executive or political power, and the service was purely ceremonial since Charles automatically became king upon the death of his motherQueen Elizabeth II, in September.
The monarch remains the UK’s head of state and a symbol of national identity – and Charles will have to work to unite a multicultural nation And support for the monarchy at the time was waning, especially among the young.
Today’s audience is very different from the one that witnessed Elizabeth’s coronation. Nearly 20% of the population now comes from ethnic minorities, compared to less than 1% in the 1950s, and less than half of the population describes themselves as Christian.
The anti-monarchy group Republic said six of its members, including its chief executive, were arrested upon arrival at a demonstration. Police, who had warned they would have a “low tolerance” of people seeking to disrupt the day, said four people had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.
Environmental group Just Stop Oil said more than a dozen of its members had also been arrested.
The arrests drew criticism because the police were clamping down on freedom of expression, and Human Rights Watch said the arrests were “something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London”.
And the multimillion-pound cost of all the pomp — the exact figure is unknown — has also alarmed some amid the cost-of-living crisis. This means that many Britons struggle to pay energy bills and buy food.
Nevertheless, Charles sought to drive a smaller, less expensive royal machine for the 21st century. His affair was three hours shorter than Elizabeth’s coronationwith fewer guests and an abbreviated procession.
The famous royal family has competed to show their unity. The heir to the throne, Prince William, his wife Kate and their three children were all present. Towards the end of the ceremony, William knelt before his father and pledged allegiance to the king – before kissing him on the cheek.
Welby then called everyone in the abbey to swear “true loyalty” to the king. He said people watching TV could also be honored – though that part of the ceremony was toned down after some criticized it as a muted effort to demand public oaths of allegiance to Charles.
Prince Harry, William’s younger brother, who has publicly quarreled with the familyHe arrived alone. His wife, Meghan, and their children have remained at home in California, where the couple have lived since they stepped down as royals in 2020.
When Charles and the royals joined a magnificent military motorcade after the ceremony, Harry stood waiting outside the abbey until a car arrived to remove him.
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 soldiers and military bands playing jubilant tunes.
As the king and queen waved to a sea of people outside the palace, the Royal Air Force’s aerobatics team, the Red Arrows, took off overhead, trailing off plumes of red, white and blue.
“Just to be surrounded by love and to see our King Charles. He’s our mainstay,” said Jill Coughlin, a royal fan from Essex, east London. “We loved our Queen and that’s just another generation. So, it’s great for us, absolutely wonderful.”
Associated Press writers Sylvia Hoy and Brian Milley contributed to this report.
Follow AP coverage of King Charles III at https://apnews.com/hub/king-charles-iii
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