LONDON — While King Charles III, 74, has ruled since his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died in September, he will be crowned monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Saturday, also becoming chief mostly ceremonial Commonwealth. .

The UK is the only country in Europe to hold a lavish coronation ceremony; other countries, like France, have abolished the monarchy, have opted for a simpler affair, like Norway, or have never had coronations, like the Netherlands.

It will be the 40th coronation at Westminster Abbey, a tradition dating back to 1066. Charles’s wife Camilla, formerly known as the queen consort, will officially become queen.

Elizabeth, who died at 96, sat on the throne for a record 70 years. She was 27 when she was crowned in 1953, an era-defining moment first shown in the still-new medium of television. By contrast, Charles is a veteran royal who has traveled the world many times representing the country.

Here’s what to expect on your coronation day:

Procession to Westminster Abbey

Public viewing areas along the route will be open from 6 am (1 am ET). Space will be limited, as many streets in and around the abbey will be closed to the traffic

Early Saturday, the military units involved in planning and executing the event will arrive at Waterloo station and then move across the city to help rally the thousands of spectators.

The Life Guards, part of the Household Cavalry, join a full three-service and Commonwealth rehearsal late last month.Rob Pinney/Getty Images
Image: Members of the military march near Buckingham Palace in central London on May 2, 2023 during a rehearsal for the coronation of King Charles III.
Members of the military march near Buckingham Palace in central London during a rehearsal Tuesday for the coronation.Vadim Ghirda/AP

In the morning, the procession will travel from Buckingham Palace to the abbey in an estimated 35-minute journey. Charles and Camilla will be on the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, first used by Elizabeth in 2014. The air-conditioned carriage, which weighs 3 metric tons (just over 6,600 pounds) and is drawn by six Windsor Gray horses, is used only by the sovereign, occasionally in conjunction with a visiting head of state.

The golden crown on the carriage roof was carved from the oak of HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and a piece of mathematician Isaac Newton’s apple tree inscribed with his initials.

The service

The two-hour service begins at 11 a.m. (7 a.m. ET). It is a somber and symbolic ceremony, virtually unchanged in a millennium, in which Charles will assume the role of sovereign.

The traditional Anglican hymn «I was gladit will be sung upon entering, a piece based on Psalm 122 that is currently used in coronations since at least 1626.

The coronation will be presided over by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose role has remained unchanged since 1066.

Image: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby studies the Coronation Bible at Lambeth Palace in London on April 20, 2023.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preside over the ceremony.Daniel Leal / AFP – Getty Images

welby will deliver a liturgyor sermon, in which he will invite the millions of Britons who are watching him to «pay homage, with heart and voice, to their undoubted King, defender of all.»

The service will include languages ​​from across the UK for the first time, including a Welsh prayer and anthem sung in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic.

Two thousand guests will pack the abbey, including first lady Jill Biden and Prince Harry, Charles’s youngest son, who has a bitter relationship with his father and older brother Prince William and the royal establishment.

Charles will be the 10th monarch to be crowned since the United States declared its independence in 1776. No American president has ever attended a British coronation, a tradition that continues.

recognition and oath

Upon entering the abbey, Welby will call for the people’s recognition of the sovereign: the assembled dignitaries and senior members of the royal household staff will hail the king, pledging their homage or allegiance.

Charles will then take the coronation oath, a legal requirement since a law passed in 1689 forced King William and Queen Mary to promise to uphold the Protestant faith. The same year, Parliament passed a law prohibiting any Catholic from assuming the throne, a rule that is still in effect.

At Elizabeth’s coronation, the archbishop asked her if she would rule the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth and uphold the Anglican faith. “All this I promise to do. The things that I have promised here before, I will fulfill and fulfill. So help me God,» she replied.

the anointing

Charles will then be anointed, blessed and consecrated by Welby as he sits in the coronation chair, a relic first used at the coronation of King Edward II in 1308.

The anointing process is inspired by the biblical anointing of King Solomon: it is a deeply religious moment, similar to a baptism. The oil was made from olives harvested from two monastery groves on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where the Bible says Jesus prayed the day before his crucifixion.

Image: The anointing screen, which will be used at the coronation of King Charles III and has been handcrafted by the Royal School of Needlework, is blessed in front of a small congregation in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace in London April 24th.  2023.
The anointing screen will be used to hide King Carlos III while he is anointed. Victoria Jones / AFP – Getty Images

But the moment will be hidden from millions of viewers around the world by a screen: tradition holds that the only witnesses will be the king, the archbishop and God.

Charles will remove his crimson robes and any jewelry and wear a simple robe while the Archbishop pours oil on his head, hands, and chest. As he does this, Welby will say, «So be you anointed, blessed, and consecrated King over the Peoples, whom the Lord your God has given you to rule and rule.»

Handel’s hymn “Zadok the Priest” will play during the ancient ritual. Shakespeare referred to the symbolism of the process in «Richard II»: «Not all the water in the rough and rough sea / Can wash away the balm of an anointed king.»

The canopy is placed over Queen Elizabeth II for the anointing ceremony during her coronation on June 2, 1953.
The canopy is placed over Queen Elizabeth II for the anointing ceremony during her coronation on June 2, 1953.Keystone/Getty Images

However, not all monarchs revered it: Elizabeth I referred to the sacred oil as «grease» that «smelled bad». according to George Grosstheologian of King’s College London.

After Charles receives the crown jewels, orb, and two sceptres, Welby will place St. Edward’s crown on his head. The crown features a 4.9 pound solid gold setting complete with rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnets, topaz, and tourmalines. It was worn by Elizabeth during her coronation and has been refitted for her son.

At the end of the ceremony, Charles will change into the lighter Imperial State Crown for the procession back to the palace.

Gun salutes will be fired from all over Britain, both on land and at sea.

The reception

After the service, the procession will begin, taking the new king and queen back to Buckingham Palace in a different ceremonial carriage, the Gold State Coach, on the same route around central London on which the body of Isabel during her funeral last year.

Five thousand members of the armed forces from across Great Britain and the Commonwealth are expected to accompany the newly crowned King and Queen. Another 1,200 members of the British armed forces will line up on the route, according to plans shared by Buckingham Palace and the British government.

Image: The Gold State Coach is led in a procession in London on May 3, 2023, during a rehearsal for the coronation of King Charles III.
Charles will travel to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach after being crowned. Jordan Pettitt/PA via AP

The Gold State Coach, commissioned in 1760, was first used by George III to travel to the state opening of Parliament two years later. It weighs 4 metric tons (almost 9,000 pounds) and needs eight Windsor Gray horses to pull it, and it can’t handle more than a walking pace.

Elizabeth wore it on her coronation day in 1953. On that cold and unseasonable day in June, members of the royal staff tied up a hot water bottle under your seat. Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother, did not like the golden carriage and she did not use it at seven state openings of Parliament, the Royal Collection Trust said.

The moment of the balcony and the flight

Charles and Camilla will head to the Buckingham Palace garden for a reception.

They are then expected to appear on the famous balcony of the palace along with other high-ranking royals; It’s unclear who will appear, but it’s likely they will at least include William and his eldest son, Prince George, who is second in line.

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge watch an aerial flight from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Color on June 2, 2022 in London.
The royal family on the Balcony of Buckingham Palace in June. Queen Elizabeth II passed away three months later.File Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The final crescendo of the day’s pomp and circumstance will be a six-minute flyby of more than 60 Royal Air Force, British Army and Royal Navy aircraft, followed by the Royal Air Force aerobatics team, Red Arrows. .

Among the planes will be planes that delivered aid to Ukraine and policed ​​NATO airspace, as well as Spitfires, the famous planes that flew in the Battle of Britain in 1940.