King Charles’ Coronation: How To Watch It In The U.S. And When It Starts

Topline

King Charles will be crowned on May 6 in the United Kingdom’s highly traditional coronation ceremony—the first in 70 years and the first to take place in the age of the internet, much less social media—and Prince Harry will attend without Meghan Markle in a high-profile reunion with the Royal Family, just months after the publication of his explosive memoir Spare.

The British Royal Family Attend Easter Mattins Service

Camilla, Queen Consort and King Charles III at the Easter Sunday Mattins Service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on April 9. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

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Key Facts

King Charles III and Queen Camilla will be crowned on May 6, at Westminster Abbey, eight months after he ascended to the throne upon Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. British Standard Time (6 a.m. EST) and will be broadcast by British media, including the BBC News channel, as well as American media outlets: CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, Fox News and CNN will offer televised coverage beginning at 5 a.m. EST.

About 2,000 guests were invited to the coronation—making it just a quarter of the size of Elizabeth II’s coronation—including members of the royal family, foreign heads of state and dignitaries, British political leaders and 850 people recognized for their charity work.

Prince Harry will attend the coronation, Buckingham Palace announced Wednesday, but Meghan Markle and their children will remain home in California.

Charles and Camilla will first travel from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the six-horse-drawn Diamond Jubilee State Coach, a carriage first used in 2014, and return to Buckingham Palace in the eight-horse-drawn Gold State Coach, used for every coronation since King William IV in 1831.

Charles’ procession will be much shorter than that of Elizabeth II, whose journey from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace in 1953 stretched for five miles, while this will take a shorter, 1.3-mile route.

The famed, more than 360-year-old St. Edward’s Crown, a foot tall and weighing nearly five pounds, will be used to crown Charles: It’s made of 22-carat gold and 444 precious and semiprecious stones, including 345 rose-cut aquamarines, 37 white topaz, 27 tourmalines, 12 rubies, seven amethysts, six sapphires, two jargoons, one garnet, one spinel and one carbuncle.

Camilla will be crowned with Queen Mary’s crown—which has a gold-lined silver frame, 2,200 diamonds and will feature Elizabeth II’s Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds, which are 94.4, 63.6 and 18.8 metric carats respectively—and hold a scepter made of ivory, a decision that’s attracted some controversy, as Prince William has campaigned against the ivory trade.

As the first royal coronation in the social media age, the Royal Family unveiled an emoji modeled after St. Edward’s Crown that will appear when the #coronation Twitter hashtag is used.

For the first time, King Charles’ subjects will be asked to recite a pledge of allegiance to the King from wherever they are watching the coronation—known as a “homage of the people,” which organizers hope will form a “chorus of millions”—an unconventional gesture critics of the monarchy have slammed as tone-deaf.

Who Is Attending

President Joe Biden will skip the coronation but First Lady Jill Biden will attend in his place, a decision that has angered some conservative British politicians and commentators despite Biden keeping with precedent: No sitting U.S. president has attended a coronation. Other notable world leaders set to attend include French President Emmanuel Macron, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as well as foreign royals including Monaco’s Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia and Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko. British celebrities set to attend include comedians Ant and Dec, British Vogue editor Edward Enninful and actress Joanna Lumley (Rapper Nicki Minaj also tweeted she will attend, though her invitation has not been confirmed and may just be a promotional effort for her new song, titled “Princess Diana”).

Who Will Perform

Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, opera star Andrea Bocelli and the English pop group Take That will perform at the coronation concert on May 7, after some of Britain’s biggest pop acts—including Harry Styles, Adele, Elton John and the Spice Girls—all reportedly declined to perform, which some music public relations professionals told Rolling Stone may be an effort to distance themselves from royal scandals and the Royal Family’s declining popularity among young people.

St Edwards Crown

St Edward’s Crown, which is used to crown British monarchs. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Big Number

$4 billion. That’s how much the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors estimated the Crown Jewels were worth in 2019, using the sale of the French Crown Jewels in 1887 and the sale of the late Princess Margaret’s jewelry in 2006 as a comparison. The jewels, which are considered priceless and difficult to value as they would not be sold on the open market, consist of more than 100 objects and 23,000 gemstones and have been protected in the Tower of London since the 1660s. Included in the Crown Jewels is the Cullinan Diamond, the largest diamond ever found at 3,106 metric carats, which has been cut into several pieces and incorporated into the coronation regalia and other items. Cullinan I is used in the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross, weighing 530.2 carats, and Cullinan II is used in the Imperial State Crown, weighing 317.4 carats.

The Committal Service For Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The Sovereign’s Orb, Sceptre and The Imperial State Crown sit on top of Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Standard draped coffin at her Committal Service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on September 19. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

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Key Background

The coronation is a traditional religious ceremony in the United Kingdom in which a monarch is physically crowned and formally sworn in as the head of the Church of England. The coronation is performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. During the ceremony, the monarch being sworn in is presented to attendees at Westminster Abbey, who say in unison: “God Save the King (or Queen).” The monarch swears an oath to uphold both the law and the Church of England, and the Archbishop anoints the monarch with holy oil. Though the recipe of the oil is secret, it is known to contain ambergris, orange flowers, roses, jasmine and cinnamon, and for Charles, the oil will be animal cruelty free. The monarch is presented with royal objects, including the Sovereign’s Orb, a golden globe mounted with a cross, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, rose-cut diamonds and a row of pearls, which represents religious and moral authority. The monarch is also presented with the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross, a golden rod featuring the 530.2-carat Cullinan I diamond, as well as additional diamonds, emeralds, rubies and an amethyst monde. The Sovereign’s Scepter with Dove, which represents justice and mercy, is also a gold rod, embedded with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds, mounted with a dove with spread wings. The monarch is crowned with St. Edward’s Crown, the archbishop delivers a prayer and the monarch sits on the throne. The coronation process has remained largely unchanged for more than 1,000 years. In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was the first to be televised and was watched by 27 million viewers in the United Kingdom and millions more worldwide.

BRITAIN-ROYALS-POLITICS

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh ride in the Diamond Jubilee state coach on June 4, 2014. (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

What We Don’t Know

What role Prince Harry will play in the coronation. Though Harry is confirmed to attend, BBC News reported since he is no longer a “working royal,” it is unclear whether he will appear with the Royal Family on the Buckingham Palace balcony. Harry and Meghan did not appear on the balcony for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebration last year after she decided to limit balcony appearances to royals “currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the Queen.” Some British tabloids reported a position on the Buckingham Palace balcony was among the demands Harry and Meghan had to make an appearance at the coronation. The ceremony comes just four months after the publication of Harry’s memoir Spare, in which he details how he pleaded with his father, Charles, to not marry Camilla after the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Harry famously stepped back from his royal duties in 2020 and relocated to California with his family. He traveled to the United Kingdom in March to appear in court in support of his privacy violation lawsuit against the Daily Mail publisher, but he reportedly did not meet with Charles while in the country. British news outlet The Telegraph reported Harry and Charles held “peace talks” before Harry confirmed he would attend the coronation, though William was not involved in these discussions.

Surprising Fact

The Royal Family’s Twitter account unveiled the coronation invitations on April 5—and many were quick to notice it refers to Camilla as “Queen Camilla,” not queen consort, as she has been known. The “consort” title designates a spouse of a monarch who does not have the same political or military powers. A royal source told CNN “queen consort” was initially used in the months following Elizabeth II’s death to distinguish the late queen from Camilla. Royal historian Marlene Koenig told NPR she wasn’t surprised the invitation simply used “queen,” noting that past queen consorts were often simply referred to as “queen” in royal affairs and news reports. Nicoletta Gullace, associate professor of British history at the University of New Hampshire, told NPR she was surprised “consort” was dropped because that was how Elizabeth II indicated she wanted Camilla to be addressed, though she said removing “consort” may be an effort to make Camilla more legitimate in the eyes of the British public following her affair with Charles while he was married to Diana, which still lingers in the public memory.

Gold State Coach

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arriving at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Gold State Coach. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Tangent

The U.K. government foots the bill for coronation ceremonies, which can cost millions of dollars. Elizabeth II’s coronation cost about £1.57 million, or £46 million today, which equals about $57 million. The cost of the upcoming coronation is not yet known, and the British government told The Washington Post information will be released at a later date. BBC reported the potentially high cost will likely spark criticism amid the ongoing inflation and rising cost of living in the United Kingdom.

Further Reading

King Charles’s coronation: 2 carriages, 5 swords and a crown emoji (The Washington Post)

King Charles: When is the coronation and is there a bank holiday? (BBC News)

The royals dropped ‘consort’ from Queen Camilla’s title. What’s the big deal? (NPR)