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The moment Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday at Balmoral Castle, King Charles III became the first king of the United Kingdom in over 70 years. However, his coronation ceremony, a solemn religious event that has remained the same for nearly a thousand years, may not occur for months.
After the death of the queen’s father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952, Elizabeth’s coronation took place over a year later in June 1953. The U.K. will undergo a period of mourning for the next few months until King Charles is crowned at Westminster Abbey; however, he may immediately begin his reign as king after over 50 years of service as the Prince of Wales.
“For the last 900 years, the ceremony has taken place at Westminster Abbey, London,” according to the Royal Family website. “The service is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose task this has almost always been since the Norman Conquest in 1066.”
Present at the ceremony will be members of the House of Parliament, Church, and State, as well as representatives from other countries. The coronation is unlike any other royal event and will be paid for by the British government, which is also in charge of creating the guest list, according to The BBC.
After an Anglican religious service is conducted, King Charles III will have a St. Edward’s Crown placed on his head by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is the same crown used at the coronation of his mother and every other new sovereign since 1661.
The crown resides in the Tower of London and weighs approximately 5lbs, and is worn only during a monarch’s coronation.
“During the ceremony, the Sovereign takes the coronation oath. The form and wording have varied over the centuries. Today, the Sovereign undertakes to rule according to law, to exercise justice with mercy – promises symbolised by the four swords in the coronation regalia (the Crown Jewels) – and to maintain the Church of England,” as per the Royal Family website.
Charles will be seated in King Edward’s chair, used by every monarch since 1626, while being annoyed, blessed, and consecrated by the Archbishop.
Along with the St. Edward’s Crown, the king will be given the orb and scepters to mark his reign, followed by the celebration of Holy Communion. Charles was five-years-old when he last attended this ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II.
The religious event will be broadcasted to the whole world and watched by tens of millions of British citizens.