On Saturday, King Charles III and Queen Camilla will be crowned at Westminster Abbey in the first coronation to take place in Britain in 70 years. Charles will be the 40th sovereign to be crowned at the abbey, and Camilla will be the first queen consort crowned since 1937.
The coronation is the centerpiece of a weekend of celebration marking the milestone event, including a pop concert headlined by Lionel Richie at Windsor Castle on Sunday. The following day is a national holiday in the U.K.
Coronation day itself has been highly rehearsed, with full-scale military parades taking place in silence on the streets of London in the middle of the night. A mock Westminster Abbey has reportedly been created in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace.
From the first carriage leaving the palace’s forecourt to the moment St. Edward’s Crown is placed on Charles’ head, it all comes down to precision timing. So what is happening when? Newsweek has the answers.
King and Queen’s Procession to Westminster Abbey: 10:20 a.m. BST (5:20 a.m. EDT)
Though members of the public will start lining the route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey at 6 a.m. BST (1 a.m. EDT) on Saturday, some eager fans began waiting around as early as seven days before the big day.
Charles and Camilla will leave Buckingham Palace dressed in their coronation robes at 10:20 a.m. BST (5:20 a.m. EDT), traveling in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach that was given to Queen Elizabeth II as a jubilee gift in 2012.
The carriage has spotlighting for the crowds to get a good look at its passengers and also has air conditioning and electric windows.
The carriage will be part of a larger procession making its way from the palace, along the Mall through the Admiralty Arch and down Whitehall toward Parliament Square and eventually stopping outside the Great West Door of the abbey.
Coronation Ceremony: 11 a.m. BST (6 a.m. EDT) to 1 p.m. BST (8 a.m. EDT)
Charles and Camilla are set to arrive at Westminster Abbey at 11 a.m. BST (6 a.m. EDT) for the long procession through the abbey, down the nave to the high altar, which is known for the occasion as the “coronation theater.”
The monarchs will be accompanied by their “pages of honor,” including Charles’ grandson Prince George.
The coronation ceremony is split into sections, following the tradition laid out by the late Anglo-Saxon kings.
First comes the recognition. At this point, Charles will be presented to “the people” gathered in the congregation. He will stand and face each of the four walls of the abbey and be proclaimed the “undoubted king.”
Then comes the oath swearing. Charles will swear the legal Coronation Oath to govern his kingdoms in accordance with their laws and customs and to uphold the Church of England.
This is followed by the anointing. Considered the deeply religious center of the coronation, Charles will be blessed with holy oil on his hands, his breast and forehead. His anointing, like that of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, will not be televised. He will be shielded from cameras by an embroidered screen for this part of the service.
Once anointed, Charles will take part in his investiture as king. Jeweled swords, spurs and armils will be offered to the king, after which he will be presented with the sovereign’s ring, the golden orb and the sovereign’s scepter.
Following this, the crowning will take place. The archbishop of Canterbury will take St. Edward’s Crown from the high altar and place it on Charles’ head. This is the only time the king will ever wear this particular crown, as it is used only at the moment of a monarch’s coronation. Thereafter, Charles will use the Imperial State Crown.
Now crowned, Charles will participate in the enthronement. Wearing St. Edward’s crown, he will be taken from the ancient coronation chair to his newly created throne. At this point, Charles will receive homage from his eldest son, Prince William, who will swear an oath of allegiance to his father. Those watching the coronation in the abbey or at home will be asked if they wish to make an “homage of the people.”
After this, the crowning of the queen consort will take place. In a simpler form of Charles’ ceremony, Camilla will be anointed, invested, crowned and enthroned before the royal couple change into their robes of estate and make their way out of the abbey.
Coronation Procession: 1 p.m. BST (8 a.m. EDT)
Charles and Camilla are expected to leave Westminster Abbey at 1 p.m. BST (8 a.m. EDT). Wearing their crowns and robes, they will enter the Gold State Coach and join a large-scale military procession from the abbey to Buckingham Palace.
Members of the royal family, including the Prince and Princess of Wales, are expected to ride in carriages behind the king and queen and will be escorted by flanks of military servicemen and women, with regimental bands playing music along the way.
Balcony Appearance and Flypast: 2:30 p.m. BST (9:30 a.m. EDT)
After arriving back at Buckingham Palace, Charles, Camilla and working members of the royal family will make an appearance on the palace’s famous balcony.
The family will wave to the gathered crowds along the Mall and will watch as more than 60 aircraft take part in a six-minute flypast over London.
They will include Apache helicopters, the same kind that Prince Harry flew during his military tour of Afghanistan, historic Lancaster and Spitfire bombers from World War II, and the Red Arrows aerobatic team, which will turn the sky above Buckingham Palace red, white and blue.
This will mark the final public event of the day’s celebrations.
James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.
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