What to Expect at King Charles’s Coronation: The Details and Traditions, Explained

King Charles’s coronation will be filled with rituals that have changed little over the past thousand years … though there will be a few surprises. Here’s what to watch for.

All eyes will be on England for King Charles’s coronation this spring—and not just across the pond. Just as millions of Americans watched the U.K.’s biggest royal weddings and Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, we’ll be doing the same with this event. But we might have a few more questions than our British friends about all the pomp and circumstance. Where do these traditions come from, and how are they being adapted for a new monarch, the first to be crowned in Britain in 70 years?

“The coronation has traditional, religious and symbolic significance,” says royal expert Nicoletta Gullace, an associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire who specializes in modern British history. “It is the moment the crown is placed upon the king’s head, and it signifies Charles’s authority in a long line of rulers ostensibly going back to the time of William the Conqueror in 1066.”

In addition to the ceremony itself, there will be plenty of festivities—but not quite to the extent we’ve seen at other royal events, including Queen Elizabeth’s coronation back in 1953. “Charles wants to have a ‘slimmed-down monarchy,’ so he is trying to avoid the appearance of extravagance,” Gullace says. Still, no one does royal celebrations like the Brits, so no doubt the festivities will be filled with all the grandeur we’ve come to expect.

Let’s delve into what you can expect from King Charles III’s coronation, from the timeline of events to the history of the rituals and the crown jewels, as well as the potential snubs and drama. (Harry and Meghan, we’re looking at you!) Plus, find out who from the British royal family tree will be there, what Queen Camilla’s coronation crown will be like and if King Charles III’s role in government will change after the big day.

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When is King Charles’s coronation?

London Prepares For The Coronation Of King Charles III And The Queen ConsortLeon Neal/Getty Images

King Charles’s coronation date is Saturday, May 6, 2023. “Plans for the coronation of Charles III and his Queen Consort Camilla have been underway for a long time under the code name Operation Golden Orb,” says historian and author Tony McMahon. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. London time.

How long will it take for Charles to be coronated? “The coronation will be much shorter than the three-hour royal marathon Queen Elizabeth II endured,” McMahon says. “There’s clearly a sense that attention spans are not what they once were. Shorter will be better.” Expect the ceremony to last an hour or two max. The celebratory events, however, will continue through Monday, May 8.

Interestingly, May 6 is also the birthday of Prince Harry’s son, Archie, who will be turning 4 years old. It is also the date that the late Princess Margaret (Queen Elizabeth’s sister) married Antony Armstrong-Jones, as well as the wedding anniversary of Camilla’s daughter, Laura.

Why did the royal family wait so long to have a coronation?

In case you were wondering, it doesn’t have anything to do with why people didn’t want Charles to become king. Rather, it’s a tradition that dates back centuries. “Shortly after the previous king or queen dies, the new monarch is proclaimed at St. James’s Palace and throughout the kingdom, but there is a gap between that event and the coronation,” McMahon says. “That doesn’t mean we are without a sovereign. The Latin phrase rex nunquam moritur applies in these circumstances, which broadly translates as ‘the king never dies.’ So, we have a monarch—it’s just that a crown has yet to be popped on their head.”

Queen Elizabeth’s coronation was 18 months after the death of her father, so the gap between Charles’s accession to the throne upon her death on Sept. 8, 2022, and his coronation isn’t unusual or particularly long, McMahon says. In fact, it’s quite a bit shorter, at just around eight months.

“The reason for a gap between the accession and coronation is the requirement for a period of respectful mourning, and on the more practical side, getting things organized for the big day,” McMahon says. “If anything, coronations have become bigger logistical nightmares [starting] in the 20th century. Getting guests to Westminster Abbey from all over the world was not a concern for a medieval monarch.” Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 was the first to be televised, which added considerations for cameras, lighting and audio.

Will the coronation be televised?

Absolutely. Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, famously championed televising her coronation, and major royal events have been standard viewing ever since. In addition to the BBC in England, many cable-news and broadcast networks in the United States will televise the event. ABC has announced live coverage from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET (with coverage also on ABCNews.com and GoodMorningAmerica.com). Networks including CNN, Fox News and BBC America will also cover the event, and the U.K.’s Sky News will broadcast live on its YouTube channel. Other online and live-streaming services will have coverage as well. Just keep in mind you’ll have to get up really early to watch the ceremony because of the time difference: 11 a.m. BST in England is 6 a.m. East Coast time in the United States.

But King Charles’s coronation probably won’t come close to the recent royal weddings in terms of viewership numbers. A whopping 22.8 million U.S. viewers watched the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011—and Harry and Meghan’s wedding topped that, with 29.2 million Americans watching their nuptials in 2018. In contrast, Queen Elizabeth’s funeral drew only 11.4 million U.S. viewers.

We can probably expect King Charles III’s coronation ceremony to draw low(ish) numbers as well. “Given the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last summer, her extremely long funeral event and all of Prince Harry’s Netflix specials and book talks, people may be royaled out,” Gullace says. King Charles also doesn’t have the same popularity as the younger royals or the late queen.

What will happen at the coronation?

Coronation Of ElizabethFox Photos/Getty Images

The coronation isn’t just a political event—it’s also a religious ceremony. “King Charles is literally being anointed as God’s chosen ruler,” McMahon says. “That may seem weird to us today in the 21st century, but it’s still what legitimizes having a monarch.” At the ceremony, Charles will be affirmed as the head of the Church of England, and his power as the symbolic ruler of the realm will be solidified, Gullace says. “It is a solemn occasion, but it will be accompanied by a festive public holiday, a pop concert, a light show at Windsor Castle, extended pub hours and community luncheons,” she says. Here’s a full timeline of the events.

The procession to Westminster Abbey

Traveling from Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, “King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will process to Westminster Abbey through central London,” McMahon says. This is known as the King’s Procession. Westminster Abbey, by the way, also hosted Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s wedding, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding and the queen’s funeral—and it is the spot for royal coronations. “The first coronation at Westminster Abbey was in 1066, when William the Conqueror [who invaded England from Normandy] was crowned king,” says royal expert and author Marlene Koenig. “Charles will be the 40th monarch crowned at the abbey.”

Fun fact: Only two monarchs since 1066 were not crowned—Edward V, who reigned for two months in 1483 before mysteriously vanishing, and Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936. Having King Charles’s coronation here connects him with his ancestors through the ritual and the place where it will be held, Gullace says.

The coronation ceremony

'Coronation of William the Conqueror', 1925.Print Collector/Getty Images

The ceremony itself has been largely the same since medieval times. “The service is defined in a medieval Latin manuscript called the Liber Regalis, basically a manual for a coronation, which is first and foremost a religious service,” Koenig says. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England, will anoint King Charles with holy oil, and he will swear to uphold the Christian faith and the laws of England. The anointing will take place behind a specially embroidered screen to signify the sanctity of the moment.

After taking the oath and being anointed, Charles will be given the orb, coronation ring and scepter, which symbolize his divinely ordained role as king of the United Kingdom. He will then be crowned—but not quite in the same way as the last king. “Back in 1937, the late Queen Elizabeth’s father King George VI was [also] crowned as Emperor of India, King of the Union of South Africa, the dominions of Canada and Australia, and all the colonies in the empire,” McMahon says. “Charles will be king of a lot less. He may be the last British head of state in some countries, like Australia, where sentiment is growing for a president.”

A representation of other faiths

This will be a change from previous coronations. “King Charles III is the head of the Church of England, but he’s always been keen to position himself as a royal for all faiths,” McMahon continues. “There are going to be more representatives of faiths this time around, other than the Church of England. So, expect to see leaders from the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh and Roman Catholic faiths playing some kind of role.”

Prince William’s tribute to the king

Prince WilliamSamir Hussein/Getty Images

Only Prince William, as heir to the throne, will pay homage to the king, but none of the other royal dukes will, as they did in previous coronations. “Charles scrapped this to avoid Andrew and Harry having a role in the coronation,” Koenig says. (Charles’s brother Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was involved in a sexual-assault scandal and stripped of his royal duties; and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, relinquished his royal duties.)

However, the decision also excludes the other royal dukes, the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent, from paying homage. Prince Edward, Charles’s youngest brother, who was recently given the title Duke of Edinburgh, will also be left out because of the new rule.

What does paying homage entail? “William will say, ‘I, William, Prince of Wales, do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die against all manner of folks. So help me God,'” Koenig says.

Prince George’s special role

Prince William’s 9-year-old son George, who is second in line to the throne after his father, will make history with his role in the ceremony as a Page of Honour to King Charles. “This will be his first official engagement,” McMahon says. His duties will include processing down the nave of Westminster Abbey and helping to carry the king’s robes. Normally, young children, let alone a future monarch, aren’t part of the ceremony in this way, so this is a bit of a departure from tradition. The king’s other three pages are Master Nicholas Barclay, the grandson of one of Camilla’s companions; Master Ralph Tollemache, the son of Charles’s godson; and Lord Oliver Cholmondeley, the son of a lord-in-waiting to the king.

Camilla’s anointing

Camilla, queen consort, will also be anointed with holy oil and crowned,” McMahon says. Interestingly, only female consorts are crowned at coronations, not male consorts. “We are used to the image of Queen Elizabeth II sitting alone in 1953 while Prince Philip watched, but this coronation will see two crownings, not just one,” McMahon explains. “Camilla will be crowned in a similar way to the queen mother in 1937, when she sat alongside King George VI.”

Although public sentiment has shifted in Camilla’s favor over the last few decades, since the death of Charles’s first wife, Princess Diana, there’s still a major question remaining. “One mystery will be whether Charles dares to drop the word consort from Camilla’s royal title, making her queen of the realm,” Gullace says. Since Charles didn’t marry Camilla first and she is a second wife, she won’t automatically receive that title. Notably, the official invitation to the coronation dropped the word consort, styling her as “Queen Camilla,” which may indicate that this is how she will be known during the coronation—and going forward.

Camilla’s family members also have roles in the ceremony. Her grandsons, Masters Gus Lopes, Louis Lopes and Freddy Parker Bowles, as well as her great-nephew Master Arthur Elliot, will be her four Pages of Honour and attend to her throughout the ceremony. In addition, “her two children and son-in-law will, of course, have prominent seating,” Koenig says.

The procession to Buckingham Palace

“The coronation will be followed by a procession back to Buckingham Palace,” McMahon says. Called the Coronation Procession, this ceremonial parade will be a larger event than the one that brought Charles and Camilla to the abbey. The king and queen will ride in the Gold State Coach, which was made in 1760 and has been used at every coronation since William IV’s in 1831. The newly crowned couple will be accompanied by members of the armed forces and also joined by other members of the royal family.

The balcony appearance

The Prince Of Wales And The Duchess Of Cornwall Attend The Battle Of Britain 81st Anniversary Service Of Thanksgiving And RededicationMax Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Next up: the grand finale. “It’s all rounded off with the obligatory balcony appearance and lots of waving to the adoring crowds below,” McMahon says. The big question: Who will be on the balcony? As Charles wants to streamline the monarchy, it’s possible only the working royals will join the king and queen, as with the Queen’s Jubilee in 2022. This will include William, Kate and their children; Charles’s sister, Princess Anne; and Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie. Several of Queen Elizabeth’s cousins, including the previously mentioned Dukes of Gloucester and Kent, who are also working royals, are likely to appear as well.

“People will probably want to see who is on the balcony when the Red Arrows have their fly-over,” Gullace says, “but the assurance that everything will be ‘slimmed down’ and economical is unlikely to raise expectations.”

And what about Harry? The Duke of Sussex is set to attend the ceremony (more on that later), but if only working royals are to appear on the balcony, will Harry be left out? “Harry may appear on the balcony—it would be strange if he didn’t—but it will be interesting to see how the crowd below reacts,” McMahon says. “If he gets cheers, expect to see some ashen faces around him.”

Coronation weekend

The fun’s not over yet! If Saturday marks the formal, solemn occasion, Sunday is the day to party. “On Sunday, May 7, there will be a dazzling coronation concert at Windsor Castle with big-name rock, pop and music stars,” McMahon says. The concert will lead up to “Lighting Up the Nation,” which will feature illuminated famous locations around the U.K. “As was the case with the late queen’s jubilees, expect a surfeit of laser and drone displays, which are fast becoming a hallmark of major royal occasions,” McMahon says. “Plus, the more traditional fireworks and lots of military bands crashing cymbals, banging drums and droning bagpipes.”

Throughout the weekend, people will also be organizing street parties called Coronation Big Lunches in their communities to connect with their neighbors and partake in the revelry. In part to facilitate this, Monday, May 8, will be a holiday in the U.K. In addition, “people are being encouraged to do good deeds in their communities, described as ‘Big Help Out’ activities,” McMahon says. “The idea is to make the coronation something more community-focused as opposed to a display of aristocratic baubles.”

What royal traditions will King Charles’s coronation incorporate?

All the royal coronation regalia hold special significance. These items are used to display the longevity of the ritual, Gullace explains. “The big day will see the coronation regalia brought out of the glass cases and put to their intended use, instead of being gawped at by tourists in the Tower of London,” McMahon says. And while it’s not part of the royal coronation traditions, King Charles will probably wear the ring on his pinky that he always wears.

The coronation chair

Queen's Diamond Jubilee GalleriesJohn Stillwell - PA Images/Getty Images

King Charles won’t sit on the actual throne until after he is crowned. For most of the ceremony, he will be perched on this 700-year-old wooden chair. Made for King Edward I in 1296, it is normally kept at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel. The chair originally contained the legendary Stone of Scone, a large rock that was seized from Scotland. “In 1996, the government agreed to return the stone to Scotland,” Koenig says. “The agreement to return the Stone of Scone more than 700 years after it was taken by Edward I included the proviso that it would be brought to London for the coronation of a monarch.” The stone will be reunited with the chair for King Charles’s coronation, for the first time since 1996.

The crown

King Charles will wear the same crown as the queen did at her coronation. Only used at the actual moment of crowning, St. Edward’s Crown is a “copy” made in 1661 for King Charles II, as the earlier medieval crown was destroyed when the monarchy was briefly overthrown by a rebellion led by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century. Made of gold and set with gemstones including rubies, sapphires and amethysts, King Charles’s coronation crown weighs in at a whopping five pounds.

“Charles III will be the seventh monarch to wear it, and this will be the only time he wears this crown,” Koenig says. “For the rest of the service, he will wear the Imperial State Crown, which was made for King George VI’s coronation and last seen on Queen Elizabeth II’s casket.”

The coronation spoon

This medieval utensil isn’t something the king will be eating with! “The coronation spoon is the oldest crown jewel, as it survived Cromwell’s destruction of royal regalia,” McMahon says. Luckily, it was sold instead of being melted down with all the other royal gold. “It dates back to the 12th century and is used to anoint the king with holy oil—the most sacred part of the whole ceremony.” The spoon is the only piece of royal goldsmith’s work still in existence from the 12th century; it was later set with pearls when it was returned to the monarchy, post-Cromwell.

The orb and scepter

The Sovereigns Orb And Queen Mary Iis Orb, 19Print Collector/Getty Images

These items represent the sovereignty of the monarch, and both date from 1661, like St. Edward’s Crown. “The scepter is a magnificent piece of bling that includes the largest colorless cut diamond in the world, one of several king-sized diamonds cut from the mega Cullinan Diamond discovered in 1905 in present-day South Africa,” McMahon says. The diamond was added to the scepter in 1911. Representing the Christian world, the orb will be held by the monarch in his right hand. Topped with a cross, it contains diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and pearls.

Camilla’s crown

“Camilla will be the first consort in several centuries to not have a new crown for the coronation,” Koenig says. “She will wear Queen Mary’s coronation crown, the consort of George V, Charles’s great-grandparents.” Created for the 1911 coronation, the crown will be altered somewhat for Camilla. According to McMahon, three of the Cullinan diamonds will be inserted and some of the crown’s arches will be removed to create a different look.

Notably, the revised crown will leave out another stone that was in the original 1911 version: the supposedly cursed Koh-i-Nur Diamond, which was taken from India in 1849 and seen as a symbol of conquest. This is an attempt by Charles and Camilla to distance themselves from the British monarchy’s history of colonialism. However, the Cullinan Diamond is not without its own controversy: It was a “gift” from South Africa, another former British colony.

The coronation emblem

King Charles CoronationCourtesy The Royal Household

Charles has a new emblem for his coronation, which will be used on flags, online materials and other branded merchandise for the event. Created by British designer Sir Jony Ive, the emblem represents Charles’s longstanding love of nature and conservation, and incorporates the British symbols of St. Edward’s Crown and the Union Jack flag’s red, white and blue color scheme. Using illustrations of flowers from the four nations of the United Kingdom, the emblem features the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales and the shamrock of Northern Ireland.

The coronation invitation

The lucky invitees to the ceremony received a whimsical card (made of recycled material with gold foil details) decorated with images of wildflowers and other symbols of nature, along with Charles and Camilla’s Coats of Arms. Created by Andrew Jamieson, an artist whose work is inspired by the medieval legends of King Arthur, the original design was hand-painted in watercolor and also features the Green Man of British folklore, who symbolizes spring and rebirth. As mentioned, the invitation drops consort from the queen’s title, simply naming Charles’s wife as Queen Camilla.

The official coronation dish

Queen Elizabeth had Coronation Chicken, so King Charles has Coronation … Quiche? Following tradition, a recipe was released for the event’s signature dish, but it surprisingly cooked up a bit of controversy. “Quiche is potentially a stormy political choice in post-Brexit Britain [because] its origin is very much in France and possibly Germany—not what one might call a traditional English meal,” McMahon says. Although Coronation Chicken became a successful staple in the U.K., “it’s unlikely that the Coronation Quiche of 2023 will have that kind of impact.”

The Coronation Quiche also rather unusually includes beans, which raised some eyebrows. “It’s a vegetarian dish that can be adapted to modern dietary preferences,” McMahon says. “Some have claimed it is a budget dish tailored to a Britain where families are feeling the economic pinch.” The price of eggs notwithstanding, “opting for something more haute cuisine would have shown a king out of touch with his people.”

The pomp and circumstance

Although the coronation has followed the same basic ceremony for a thousand years, the grandeur we associate with the event is a relatively recent tradition. “The type of grandiose public pageantry and national holiday we enjoy today dates back to the late 19th century,” Gullace says. “At this time, the palace became adept at putting on magnificent public spectacles to enhance the prestige of the crown.”

Who will perform at the coronation?

Westminster Abbey organ recitalsJonathan Brady - PA Images/Getty Images

During the ceremony itself on May 6, the music will feature 12 new orchestral, choral and organ pieces commissioned for the event—including the coronation anthem from famed Broadway composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Expect Greek Orthodox music as well, as a tribute to Charles’s father, Prince Philip, who was born in Greece.

The party really gets started, though, with a pop concert the next day at Windsor Castle, which will be broadcast on the BBC; 5,000 pairs of tickets were also released to the public and drawn by lottery. Charles reportedly had issues securing entertainers for the event, with Adele, Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran and the Spice Girls all declining the palace’s request to perform. Some of the artists said they had conflicts or were on tour, but several top choices, including Adele, were reported not to have gigs that day, Gullace notes.

Thankfully, a few big acts with ties to the monarchy came through for the king: Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, two Americans connected to Charles through their work with his charities, as well as opera singer Andrea Bocelli, pop star Nicole Scherzinger, British group Take That, and U.K. performers Sir Bryn Terfel, Freya Ridings and Alexis Ffrench. Plus, an eclectic lineup of stars will make appearances in prerecorded segments, including Tom Cruise, Joan Collins, Tom Jones, Bear Grylls and Winnie the Pooh. The event will be hosted by Downton Abbey and Paddington actor Hugh Bonneville.

In addition to famous musicians, “there will also be some singing by the Coronation Choir, created from community groups and amateur singers reflecting the U.K.’s diverse population,” McMahon says. The choral group will include refugee choirs, LGBTQ+ singers and deaf signing choirs.

Who will attend the royal coronation?

An astonishing 8,000 people attended Queen Elizabeth’s coronation—even though Westminster Abbey seats only about 2,200 people. Extra grandstands with tiered seating needed to be built to fit everyone. But that won’t be the case for Charles, who is keeping costs top of mind. “This time, the numbers will be kept down to around 2,000—so no massive building work for this coronation,” McMahon says. So, who will snag a seat?

Heads of state

“We can expect the ceremony to be attended by nobility, heads of state, eminent clergy and likely a smattering of ordinary Britons who have contributed in exceptional ways to British well-being, such as nurses, military personnel and activists promoting causes dear to Charles,” Gullace says. Heads of state from France, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and many more have said they will be there. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will attend, and it’s expected that the seven living past PMs will attend as well.

The royalty of Europe—and the world—will also show up, including the royal houses of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Luxembourg. “Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco were the first Euro-royals to RSVP,” McMahon says. “From Japan, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko will also be there.” Political leaders of other Commonwealth nations (which used to be ruled by Britain)—including Nigeria, Bangladesh, Malta and the Bahamas—will also attend, according to McMahon.

A few lucky citizens

Will any regular people get to attend the coronation? Yes—but only in certain circumstances. “Up until the start of February 2023, members of the public were invited to apply to be at the coronation if they could prove that a relative had taken part in a previous coronation. This is an ancient, 700-year-old tradition,” McMahon says. “They were told to apply to the newly created Coronation Claims Office. Back in 1953, a body called the Court of Claims considered similar requests.” The office upheld the claim of lucky commoner Francis Dymoke, a farmer whose family has been involved in coronations since the Middle Ages, to be the “King’s Champion” and carry the flag of the Royal Standard.

More “ordinary” people in attendance will include 450 British Empire Medal recipients, who were awarded for outstanding community and charity work. And an additional 400-plus young people involved with some of the king and queen’s charities, such as the Prince’s Trust, will have a special viewing from St. Margaret’s Church at Westminster Abbey.

The royal family

Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee 2022 - Platinum PageantMax Mumby/Getty Images

Of course, the various members of the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren, will be there, and it’s incredibly important for the monarchy to present a strong, unified front. As the next in line to the throne, Prince William will be front and center in the audience, and as noted earlier, he will also be part of the ceremony.

Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend King Charles’s coronation?

The Prince and Princess of Wales Accompanied By The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Greet Wellwishers Outside Windsor CastleChris Jackson/Getty Images

This, of course, has been the big question in recent months. “They’ve hardly endeared themselves to the royal family,” McMahon says, referencing the couple’s recent Netflix series and Harry’s tell-all memoir, Spare, which were both critical of Harry’s family and the institution of the monarchy. But the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did receive a formal invitation. In mid-April, however, the couple announced that Harry will attend alone, while Meghan stays at home in California with their children, the newly titled Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

Could it be that Harry’s appearance is an effort at patching things up? “It’s difficult to see Harry’s attendance as an attempt at reconciliation when he is still dropping bombshell claims about his father days before the big event,” McMahon says, referring to a current court case about alleged phone hacking by the tabloid press, in which Harry has once again not presented his father and brother in a good light. “He’s not going to get a good reception from the rest of the family.”

As for Meghan, many reasons have been speculated for her absence, including Archie’s birthday, but most likely, she just wants to avoid the circus all together. “If she was there, her every expression and gesture would be scrutinized,” McMahon says, “so on balance, better for her to stay away.”

Whether they attend or not, though, they’re still stealing the limelight on Charles’s big day. “This kind of once-in-a-lifetime event should be the stuff of royal legend, as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was for decades,” McMahon says. “Instead, all people are going to remember is an unseemly spat between King Charles, his younger son and daughter-in-law. It sets a bad tone for this reign.”

Who won’t attend the royal coronation?

Missing royals and nobility

In addition to Meghan’s notable absence, the limited seating means that some of Britain’s nobility will be excluded from the ceremony guest list. “Not all members of the aristocracy will be invited,” Gullace says, “and those who are not will feel snubbed.” Plus, it’s been reported that fewer than 100 members of Parliament (out of 650!) were invited—and only the prime minister was allowed to bring a plus one—which has caused a stir among the government.

Ex-royal Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of Prince Andrew, didn’t even score an invite, although she said on Good Morning Britain that she understands the snub. “It is a state occasion, and being divorced, I don’t think you can’t have it both ways,” she said. “You’re either in or out.” Ferguson will reportedly attend the coronation concert in the VIP section, however.

Although Prince William’s older children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will attend, 5-year-old Prince Louis is still a question mark, as he has a reputation for being a bit of a troublemaker. At the queen’s Platinum Jubilee last June, “Prince Louis threw the mother of all temper tantrums, pulling faces at his mother and harrumphing. Lots of folded arms, scowls and talking back to Mum,” McMahon says. Louis didn’t attend the queen’s funeral service, so William and Kate might decide he should skip the coronation ceremony as well.

President Joe Biden

The White House confirmed that U.S. President Joe Biden won’t attend the coronation but First Lady Jill Biden will be there to represent the country. The president did speak with Charles to congratulate him, though, and expressed his interest in a future visit to the U.K. to meet with the king. Although no direct reason was given for Biden’s absence, some have pointed out that Biden was following precedent, as no U.S. president has ever attended a coronation. (However, the last one was 70 years ago, when transatlantic travel was a bit more cumbersome.) There have also been rumors that because of Biden’s Irish heritage, he wasn’t supportive of the British monarchy, but the White House has insisted his absence is not a snub.

Also, as was the case with the queen’s funeral, no former U.S. presidents were invited to the coronation—not surprising, given the trimmed-down guest list.

What will happen after the coronation?

Street Parties And Celebrations Are Held Throughout The UKAlex Livesey/Getty Images

After the coronation and the celebratory concert the next day, “there will be a bank holiday on Monday, with the option to get involved in parades, street parties and other celebratory events,” McMahon says. “Some may simply choose to have a nice day off.” A bank holiday is basically a national holiday in which banks and businesses are closed, and it will be seen as a treat from the new king to his people.

But what about the new monarch and his family: Will King Charles’s role change in any way? “No one’s role will change—this is a formal service where the king and queen are crowned,” Koenig says. But plans have already been put in place to shore up the roles and importance of working members of “The Firm,” including Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Princess Catherine and Prince William.

Plus, Charles will try to be a “modern” monarch, pursuing serious public service and causes such as environmental conservation. He’ll want to be seen as useful, practical and restrained, so he’s unlikely to have any other flashy events like the coronation anytime soon. “Charles will be 75 in November and could have a service of Thanksgiving, but with the coronation in the same year, perhaps not,” Koenig says. “Apart from state dinners and the annual Trooping the Colour ceremonies [on June 17], there will be no other event similar to the coronation.”

Due to his probable short reign, he’s unlikely to leave the same mark as Queen Elizabeth’s legacy. But he’ll want to be remembered as the king who successfully transferred the monarchy to the next generation of the 21st century and beyond.


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Tina Donvito
Tina Donvito is a regular contributor to RD.com’s Culture and Travel sections. She also writes about health and wellness, parenting and pregnancy. Previously editor-in-chief of Twist magazine, Donvito has also written for Parade Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Parents Magazine online, among others. Her work was selected by author Elizabeth Gilbert to be included in the anthology Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir. She earned a BA in English and History from Rutgers University.