King Charles coronation weekend plans announced
King Charles III’s coronation weekend will include a star-studded concert, a national “grand luncheon” and a volunteering initiative as well as the traditional ceremony and royal processions, Buckingham Palace announced on Saturday.
The three days of ceremonial, festive and community events in early May will see “people come together to celebrate the historic occasion”, the palace said in an update on its much-anticipated plans.
The historic long weekend looms with the monarchy still grappling with the fallout from the release earlier this month of Prince Harry’s steamy memoir ‘Spare’, in which he made a series of inflammatory claims against the family.
It is unclear whether Harry, the US-based youngest son of Charles, and his US wife Meghan will attend the coronation, with a recent Sunday Times report claiming a reconciliation could yet take place before then.
Charles, 74, immediately became king when Queen Elizabeth died aged 96 on September 8 last year, ending his record-breaking 70-year reign after a year of declining health.
He also served as head of state for 14 Commonwealth countries, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The coronation traditionally takes place a few months after the accession to the throne of a new sovereign, after a period of national and royal mourning as well as intense preparation.
– Processions –
The country’s first coronation since 1953, set to be watched around the world and featuring various global dignitaries, will begin with the official coronation of Charles at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday May 6, in a tradition dating back more 900 years old.
Buckingham Palace has previously said the service, which will be led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, will reflect the historic traditions of the monarchy alongside its modern role.
“The coronation is a solemn religious service, as well as an occasion for celebration and pageantry,” he noted.
Charles’ wife, Queen Consort Camilla, 75, will also be crowned.
The couple will arrive from the palace without other royals in ‘The King’s Procession’, before returning in a larger ceremonial entourage known as ‘The Coronation Procession’ with other family members.
Once back at the palace, the opening day will end with the royal family appearing on the balcony overlooking the mall where thousands of people are expected.
– “Special” concert –
The following day will then see a ‘special coronation concert’ held at Windsor Castle, west London, which will be produced and broadcast live by the BBC and feature ‘world music icons and contemporary stars’. .
Several thousand pairs of tickets will be made available through a public ballot, while volunteers from charities supported by Charles and Camilla will also be able to attend.
The concert will feature a “world-class orchestra” playing renditions of musical favorites “led by some of the world’s biggest artists, alongside performers from across the dance world.”
A “coronation choir”, made up of various community choirs and amateur singers from around the country – such as refugee choirs, NHS choirs, LGBTQ+ singing groups and deaf signature choirs – will also make an exclusive appearance.
A ‘virtual choir’ of singers from across the Commonwealth will also perform, while the Castle’s East Lawn will host a selection of spoken word footage performed by stars of stage and screen.
But the centerpiece of the evening will be a ‘light up the nation’ segment which will see iconic locations across the UK lit up using projections, lasers, drones and illuminations.
– ‘The legacy of volunteering’ –
Also on May 7, neighbors and communities will be invited to host thousands of “grand coronation lunches,” billed as a “national act of celebration and friendship.”
“From a cup of tea with a neighbor to a street party, a grand coronation luncheon brings the celebrations to your neighborhood,” said the palace, which expects events in streets, gardens, parks and community spaces.
The program will be overseen and organized by a team from Eden Project, the eco-friendly tourist attraction in Cornwall, South West England.
Camilla has been the patron of her annual “big lunch” initiative – which aims to build community spirit, reduce loneliness and support charities and good causes – since 2013.
The final part of Coronation Weekend, dubbed ‘The Big Help’, will be held on Monday May 8 – designated a UK public holiday this year.
Organized by community forum The Together Coalition and partners including Scouts, the Royal Voluntary Service and various faith groups, it will “highlight the positive impact volunteering has on communities across the country”.
People will be encouraged to try volunteering for themselves and join initiatives in their area with the aim of creating “a lasting legacy of Coronation Weekend volunteerism”.