Charles III will be crowned king on Saturday in a solemn Christian ceremony steeped in 1,000 years of history and tradition, but adapted to reflect 21st-century Britain.
St Edward’s Crown – a solid gold, sacred symbol of the monarch’s authority used only once in their reign – will be placed on Charles’s head at 1100 GMT to cries of “God Save the King”.
Trumpet fanfares will sound through London’s Westminster Abbey and ceremonial gun salutes will blast out across land and sea to mark the first coronation of a British monarch since 1953 – and only the fifth since 1838.
Bells will peal in celebration at churches across the land, before liveried soldiers on foot and horseback stage a 7,000-strong military parade stretching through the streets of the capital.
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Some 5,000 of those troops arrived by train at Waterloo Station shortly after dawn before marching over Waterloo Bridge, giving London’s early risers a taste of things to come.
King Charles and his wife Camilla, who will be crowned queen, will return to Buckingham Palace in the rarely used horse-drawn Gold State Coach past huge crowds, before watching a ceremonial fly-past from the balcony.
The coronation – the first of a king since 1937, only the second to be televised and the first in colour and streamed online – is the religious confirmation of Charles’s accession.
Charles, 74, has been king since the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II in September last year after seven decades as her heir apparent.