Courtesy: Dawn News/AFP/Reuters
The Archbishop of Canterbury crowned King Charles in a lavish coronation ceremony in London on Saturday, placing the 360-year-old St Edward’s Crown on the monarch’s head as he sat upon a 14th-century throne in Westminster Abbey.
Charles, who succeeded his mother when she died last September, was earlier presented with an array of historical regalia from golden orbs and bejewelled swords to a sceptre holding the world’s largest colourless cut diamond.
King Charles and Queen Camilla earlier arrived at Westminster Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, for the ceremony with a 2,200-strong congregation of world leaders and dignitaries.
Prince Harry arrived at Westminster Abbey, joining his cousins and aunts and uncles before the more senior members of the royal family entered.
It had been unclear whether Harry, the younger son of Charles, would attend the historic occasion following his high-profile falling out with his family. But he said last month he would attend without his wife Meghan and two young children, who will remain in the United States. Harry’s eldest child Archie was celebrating his fourth birthday on Saturday.
Harry smiled and nodded to members of the congregation as he joined the 100 heads of state, dignitaries and representatives of the arts, military, charities and sport inside the Abbey.
Earlier, crowds from across Britain and the world gathered on Saturday in London where Charles III will be crowned king in Britain’s biggest ceremonial event for seven decades, a sumptuous display of pageantry dating back 1,000 years.
Charles succeeded his mother Queen Elizabeth when she died last September and at 74, he will become the oldest British monarch to have the 360-year-old St Edward’s Crown placed on his head as he sits upon a 14th century throne at London’s Westminster Abbey.
Watched by about 100 heads of state and dignitaries, including US first lady Jill Biden, and millions on television, Charles follows his predecessors from the time of William the Conqueror in 1066 in being crowned at the abbey.
His second wife Camilla, 75, will be crowned queen during the two-hour ceremony which, while rooted in history, will attempt to present a forward-looking monarchy.
With Britain struggling to find its way in the political maelstrom after its exit from the European Union and maintain its standing in a new world order, for its supporters the royal family still provides an international draw, a vital diplomatic tool and a means of staying on the world stage.
“No other country could put on such a dazzling display — the processions, the pageantry, the ceremonies, and street parties,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
Despite Sunak’s enthusiasm, the coronation is taking place amid a cost of living crisis and public scepticism, particularly among the young, about the role and relevance of the monarchy.
Saturday’s event will be on a smaller scale than that staged for Queen Elizabeth in 1953, but will still aim to be spectacular, featuring an array of historical regalia from golden orbs and bejewelled swords to a sceptre holding the world’s largest colourless cut diamond.
By early morning tens of thousands had begun massing along The Mall, the grand boulevard leading up to Buckingham Palace, with the crowd more than 20 people deep in some places, as troops in ceremonial uniforms and marching bands went past.
Rachel Paisley, a 45-year-old housewife, said she had travelled from her home in Switzerland with her husband and two children.
“It is a moment in history. We wanted to be here to see it and create some memories,” she said next to her son, wearing a Charles face mask, and her daughter, who sported a Union flag head band.
However, not all were there to cheer Charles, with republicans planning their biggest protest against the monarchy.
More than 11,000 police are being deployed to stamp out any attempted disruption, and the Republic campaign group said its leader Graham Smith had been arrested along with five other protesters.
“It is disgusting and massively over the top,” said Kevin John, 57, who was among the anti-monarchy protesters.
“It is also hugely counterproductive by the police because all it has done is create a massive amount of publicity for us.”
duties because of his friendship with late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender.
Charles will swear oaths to govern justly and uphold the Church of England — of which he is the titular head — before the most sacred part of the ceremony when he is anointed on his hands, head and breast by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with holy oil consecrated in Jerusalem.
After Charles is presented with symbolic regalia, Welby will place the St Edward’s Crown on his head and the congregation will cry “God save the King”.
His eldest son and heir Prince William, 40, will pay homage, kneeling before his father and pledging his loyalty as “your liege man of life and limb”.
PM Shehbaz meets Prince Charles, British PM Sunak
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is also in the UK to attend the coronation, met with King Charles III and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during the Commonwealth leaders’ meeting in London, according to Radio Pakistan.
The premier arrived in London on Wednesday to attend the coronation of King Charles III.
He extended his warm felicitations to both British dignitaries for the impeccable arrangements made for the grandiose two-day coronation ceremonies of the new King.
In addition, he expressed his deep appreciation for the UK’s humanitarian assistance during the devastating floods that wreaked havoc in Pakistan last year.
The prime minister emphasised the need to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries and proposed the establishment of a joint commission to be led by the leaders of both nations.
According to the state-run radio service, King Charles III and Sunak echoed the PM Shehbaz’s enthusiasm for bolstering the bilateral relations between the two nations. They also lauded the Pakistani community residing in the UK for their remarkable contributions towards the growth and development of the UK.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also shared a picture of the premier meeting with various dignitaries including President of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe on the sidelines of King Charles coronation.
Welby will call for all those in the abbey and across the nation to swear allegiance to Charles — a new element that replaces the homage traditionally sworn by senior dukes and peers of the realm.
However, that has caused controversy, with Republic calling it offensive, forcing Welby to clarify it is an invitation not a command. After returning to Buckingham Palace, the royals will make a traditional appearance on the balcony, with a fly-past by military aircraft.
Also in traditional British fashion, the weather in London could feature heavy bursts of rain, forecasters said.
Celebrations will continue on Sunday with nationwide street parties and a concert at the king’s Windsor Castle home, while volunteering projects will take place on Monday.
“When you see everyone dressed up and taking part it is just fantastic. It makes you so proud,” said teacher Andy Mitchell, 63, who left his house in the early hours to get into London.
“My big concern is that younger people are losing interest in all of this and it won’t be the same in the future.”
‘Six anti-monarchists arrested’
Separately, the UK police have arrested leading members of the anti-monarchy group Republic as they prepared to protest along the route of a procession, the organisation said.
“They’ve arrested six of our organisers and seized hundreds of placards, they won’t tell us why they’ve arrested them or where they’re being held,” a Republic activist told AFP in London’s Trafalgar Square.
Republic chief executive Graham Smith was one of those arrested before the group had a chance to wave placards declaring: “Not My King.” Some onlookers nearby shouted “free Graham Smith!” But others shouted “God save the king” and waved Union flags.
A camera crew from the group Alliance of European Republican Movements was at the scene and asked a senior police officer why the group had been detained.
“They’re under arrest. End of,” the officer told them, walking off.
There was no immediate comment from London’s Metropolitan police force, which was controversially granted new anti-protest powers by the UK government under a new law rushed through this week.