King Charles III’s coronation is around the corner, and little by little, plans are being revealed. As well as Camilla being crowned alongside the king, we also know that Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis will have starring roles in the coronation procession, not to mention the UK has been given an extra bank holiday over the May 6 weekend, too. There’s set to be a coronation concert the following day, and supermarkets have already begun launching limited-edition coronation-themed food. But how much do you really know about what a coronation actually means?
The upcoming coronation will be the first in living memory for many onlookers, as the last ceremony of this kind took place in 1953 for the late Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. While we know it marks a change in the monarchy, what is the point of the ceremony? Isn’t Charles already the king? And who pays for the grand ceremony? Read ahead as we answer all your coronation questions.
What Is a Royal Coronation?
Officially, a coronation is a symbolic and religious ceremony that sees the sovereign (that’s the king, FYI) being crowned by the physical act of the crown being placed on the monarch’s head.
Although King Charles III has already been working as the head of state since Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Sept. 8, 2022, at which point he was instantaneously made king, the upcoming ceremony formalizes his role as the head of the Church of England and marks the transfer of his title and powers.
While undergoing a coronation is certainly tradition for British rulers, it isn’t a necessary step to take over as monarch in the UK. Edward VIII famously reigned in the UK without a coronation in 1936 before abdicating months later, when his brother (and Queen Elizabeth’s mother) George VI became king.
Who Pays For a Royal Coronation?
As the upcoming celebrations are a state occasion, the coronation is paid for by the UK government using taxpayer funds. While the coronation is undoubtedly a special event, it comes with a hefty price tag. The Sun reported that King Charles III’s coronation will cost an estimated £100 million, although this has not been confirmed by the royal family.
Should this be the final price, this means the coronation will have cost more than double the amount of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Back then, the coronation cost £1.57 million — that’s around £46 million today, after taking inflation into account.
Questions and backlash around whether the coronation needs to be so extravagant given the UK’s current cost-of-living crisis have surfaced. Meanwhile, it’s thought the worldwide TV rights and boost to tourism will help to cover some of the cost.
Who Has Been Invited to King Charles III’s Coronation?
With King Charles taking over as the sovereign, Prince William and Princess Catherine are now next in line to the throne. The Prince and Princess of Wales will therefore have an important role to play in the coronation.
Their eldest son, 9-year-old Prince George, will be one of the king’s Pages of Honor. This role will see the prince carrying the king’s robes along with three other Pages of Honor. Alongside him will be 13-year-old Lord Oliver Cholmondeley; Nicholas Barclay, also 13; and Ralph Tollemache, 12, who are the king’s friends’ sons, The Mirror reported.
Camilla is also being crowned queen on the day, and she has invited her three grandsons, 13-year-old twins Gus and Louis Lopes and Freddy Parker Bowles, 12, as well as her great-nephew, Arthur Elliot, 11, to be her Pages of Honour.
Meanwhile, George’s siblings, Princess Charlotte, 7, and 4-year-old Prince Louis, will also be joining their grandfather and step-grandmother as they exit Westminster Abbey once the ceremony has finished to take part in the coronation procession back to Buckingham Palace.
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and former wife of Prince Andrew, recently said at a promo event in New York City that she had not yet received an invitation for the coronation. “I’m traveling at the moment, so maybe it [invitation] has gone to another place,” she said.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been invited to the festivities, but it is not clear whether they will attend. It is unlikely their children will attend (the May 6 festivities are taking place on Archie’s 4th birthday).
Buckingham Palace announced in April that 850 community and charity representatives have been invited to Westminster Abbey, as well as government figures, including the prime minister, and more from around the world. The White House recently announced that First Lady Jill Biden will attend the ceremony on behalf of President Joe Biden.
Why Has It Taken So Long For the Royal Coronation to Take Place?
The king’s coronation is taking place eight months after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. One possible reason the coronation takes so long is because the new sovereign needs time to process the loss of their mother or father, as well as plan and attend the departed monarch’s funeral.
It’s also important to note that an event of such size and cost needs a lot of time to plan. “Operation Golden Orb” is the codename for the coronation organization, which is sorting plans for the event.