On May 6, King Charles III and Camilla, queen consort, will be officially crowned the new sovereign monarchs of the United Kingdom. The coronation ceremony will be broadcast live around the world as royal watchers tune in for hours of pageantry and pomp rooted in centuries of British tradition.
As part of the ceremony in Westminster Abbey, the royal couple will be anointed with holy oil from Jerusalem, and presented with Coronation Regalia from the crown jewels, including crowns, scepters and golden orbs. Here's a quick explainer of just some of the priceless pieces you might spot at the coronation.
The single oldest object on display during the coronation will be the silver-gilt spoon used to anoint both King Charles III and Camilla, queen consort, with oil, a tradition dating back to Old Testament times. The coronation spoon was crafted by royal goldsmiths in the 12th century.
The spoon is so much older than the rest of the Coronation Regalia because it was the only object to survive the English Civil Wars, when anti-monarchy revolutionaries led by Oliver Cromwell melted down the priceless objects to make coins. A loyalist held on to the spoon and returned it to King Charles II when the monarchy was restored.
The holy oil used in Charles III's ceremony was pressed from olives gathered on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and was consecrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the occasion. The oil will be poured from a golden Ampulla or flask shaped like an eagle. The actual anointing will not be broadcast on television in keeping with tradition regarding the sacredness of the act.
2. St. Edward's Crown
You'll see several crowns during the coronation. St. Edward's Crown, the nearly 5-pound (2.07-kilogram), solid gold, jewel-encrusted crown, is the one that will be placed on King Charles III's head at the moment of his coronation. That's the only time the British monarch gets to wear the St. Edward's Crown, which is otherwise locked away with the rest of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
The original St. Edward's Crown, named after the pious 11th-century king Edward the Confessor, was destroyed during the English Civil Wars. The "new" crown, made in 1661, boasts 400 gems including rubies, amethysts and sapphires.
3. Imperial State Crown
The Imperial State Crown, decked out with more than 2,800 diamonds, is the one King Charles III will wear as he leaves Westminster Abbey after the coronation. If it looks familiar, the Imperial State Crown was on display atop the late Queen Elizabeth II's casket during her 2022 funeral.
Made in 1937 for the coronation of King George VI, the Imperial State Crown weighs nearly 3 pounds (1.28 kilograms) and is worn by the monarch for special occasions like the annual State Opening of Parliament. Queen Elizabeth once joked that the crown was so heavy that she couldn't look down while wearing it or her "neck would break."
One of the jewels weighing down the Imperial State Crown is the Cullinan II diamond (317.4 carats), the second-biggest diamond cut from the famous (and controversial) Cullinan Diamond, the largest raw diamond ever discovered at 3,106 carats.
4. Sovereign's Scepter With Cross
The Cullinan I, the largest cut colorless diamond in the world (530.2 carats), was set into the Sovereign's Scepterin 1911. The Scepter itself dates from 1661 and was made for the coronation of King Charles II after the restoration of the monarchy.
During the coronation ceremony, the archbishop of Canterbury will hand the Sovereign Scepter to Charles and say:
Receive the rod of Equity and Mercy. Be so merciful that you be not too remiss; so execute justice that you forget not mercy. Punish the wicked, protect and cherish the just, and lead your people in the way wherein they should go.
The Sovereign's Scepter with Cross is one of two scepters that will be handed to King Charles III as part of the Coronation investiture. The second scepter is topped with a dove representing the Holy Spirit. Camilla, queen consort, will also be presented with two scepters during the ceremony, including one made of ivory that's traditionally given to the queen consort.
5. Sovereign's Orb
This nearly 3-pound (1.32-kilogram) golden globe topped with a cross represents the monarch's sovereign rule over the Christian world. During the ceremony, the Sovereign Orb will be placed in King Charles III's right hand and then moved to the high altar for the coronation itself.
The three sections of the Sovereign's Orb — separated by rows of diamonds, pearls, rubies and sapphires — represent the three continents known to the medieval world.
When the archbishop of Canterbury hands Charles the orb, he will say:
Receive this orb set under the cross and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.
6. Queen Mary's Crown
This stunning crown will be worn by Camilla, queen consort, as she leaves Westminster Abbey after the coronation ceremony. Made for the coronation of Queen Mary in 1911, Queen Mary's Crown was originally set with the remarkable Koh-i-noor diamond, but Buckingham Palace has confirmed that Camilla's crown will not contain the stone, which has become a symbol of Britain's dark colonial past.
7. Stone of Destiny
The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, hails from Scotland, where it was used in royal coronations for centuries. The 335-pound (152-kilogram) rectangular stone was stolen from Scotland in 1296 by King Edward I of England, who fashioned the stone into the seat of a new coronation chair.
For 800 years, new British monarchs have sat upon the Stone of Destiny during their coronation ceremonies. The stone was officially returned to Scotland in 1996, but the Scottish government (which is part of the U.K.) graciously lends it to Westminster Abbey for coronations. The coronation chair where the stone was once stored, has been in use at the coronation ceremony since 1308 and will be used again for King Charles' coronation.
In the morning, the royal couple will ride from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, made in 2012 to commemorate the late Queen Elizabeth's 60th year on the throne. The interior of the ornate, gilded coach contains wood from Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral and even a piece of the historic warship Mary Rose. It will be drawn by six "Windsor Greys," the name given to royal horses.
After the ceremony, the King and queen consort will ride back to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach, a 4-ton (3.6 metric-ton) coach built in 1760 for King George III that's been used in every coronation since 1831. The coach was last used during Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee (70th anniversary) in 2022. It's so heavy that eight Windsor Greys are required to pull it and they aren't allowed to break a walking pace.
Editor's note: If you want to watch the coronation of King Charles III live and you live in the United States, plan to get up early. The official service begins at Westminster Abbey at 11 a.m. British Standard Time, which is 6 a.m. EST. The entire coronation will last about two hours and most major U.S. networks will air the coronation live.
Now That's Disappointing
At her 1952 coronation, Queen Elizabeth II served a signature dish called coronation chicken, now a beloved British classic. King Charles III plans to serve a vegetarian quiche with beans instead of bacon, which some critics have compared to a "cold, wet omelet."
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