King Charles’ coronation is just days away, and the U.K. is gearing up for a special ceremony not seen in seven decades.
Below, you’ll find all the information you need to know about the first coronation to take place in over 70 years:
When is the coronation, and where will it be held?
Both Charles and Camilla will be crowned on May 6, making the former Prince of Wales the 40th monarch to be crowned at Westminster.
“The Coronation will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry,” Buckingham Palace said in its initial announcement about the coronation.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, will conduct the ceremony. If Welby’s name sounds familiar, you might recognize him as the wedding officiant for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The king and queen will start at Buckingham Palace on Saturday, before heading out on “The King’s Procession” to Westminster Abbey. Following the ceremony, Charles and Camilla will make their way back to Buckingham Palace as part of “The Coronation Procession,” for which they will be joined by other members of the royal family.
Following the procession, the king and select family members will appear on the palace balcony (as you’d see during the annual Trooping the Colour).
How can I watch?
If you’re in the U.S. and feel OK about waking up around 6 a.m. ET or 3 a.m. PT on Saturday, you can tune in to CNN, CBS or ABC News. If you prefer a streamer, Hulu + Live TV will have all your needs covered.
For those watching in the U.K., BBC, Sky News and ITV will be your best bets for coverage.
How many people are attending? Anyone I’d know?
Over 8,000 people attended Queen Elizabeth’s coronation on June 2, 1953, but Charles’ will be a pared-down affair with about 2,200 attendees.
Look for familiar faces from the British royal family, including the king’s siblings ― Princess Anne, Prince Edward and, yes, Prince Andrew ― and his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.
Kate Middleton and Prince George (who nabbed a major role as one of the Pages of Honour at the coronation) will also be in attendance, but it’s not yet known whether the Prince and Princess of Wales’ other two children, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, will be there.
In a break from tradition, members of other royal families from around the world are also invited to attend the ceremony. So far, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark are among some of the many other royals who have RSVP’d “yes.”
Camilla’s children and grandchildren will also be present for the ceremony, and even included during certain parts of it.
Wait, Camilla has children? Will they be at the coronation?
Yes! The queen, born Camilla Shand, was married to Andrew Parker Bowles for nearly 20 years. The couple, who finalized their divorce in 1995, had two children: Tom Parker Bowles, who is now a food writer and critic, and Laura Lopes, who is an art curator.
Both of Camilla’s children ― and her ex-husband ― will be at the coronation. Her family members will even play important roles at the Westminster Abbey ceremony, as the queen has chosen her three grandsons, Masters Gus and Louis Lopes, both 12, and Master Freddy Parker Bowles, 13, as well as her great-nephew, Master Arthur Elliot, 11, to act as her Pages of Honour.
So who won’t be there?
Meghan Markle will not be attending the ceremony and coronation festivities. HuffPost understands she is staying back to celebrate her son Archie’s fourth birthday.
President Joe Biden will also not make the trip; the White House said it will send first lady Jill Biden, who is looking “forward to attending on behalf of the United States.”
Why was Camilla’s title raising eyebrows on the invitation?
On the invitation, the coronation was referred to as “of their Majesties, King Charles III and Queen Camilla.” It marked the first official royal confirmation that Camilla will be referred to as “queen” going forward, rather than “queen consort.”
It’s taken decades ― and a lot of work ― to get to this place, as many believed Camilla would never be queen after she and Charles tied the knot in 2005. It was said at the time that Camilla would be referred to as princess consort when Charles ascended the throne.
This was later amended in 2022 after a statement from Queen Elizabeth, in which the monarch said it was her “sincere wish” that her daughter-in-law would one day be queen consort. Now, the title on the coronation invitations has moved things one step further, to just Queen Camilla.
What should I be watching for?
There will be a lot to take in on May 6, which includes carriage processionals both to and from Westminster Abbey, and a Buckingham Palace flypast.
To start off the a.m., viewers will likely keep an eye out as royal family members, politicians, members of foreign royal families, Nobel Prize winners and more stream in to take their seats. As stated above, Prince George will play a role in the beginning of the procession, as he is one of his grandfather’s four Pages of Honour.
Throughout the coronation ceremony itself, we’ll see six main segments: recognition, oath, anointing, investiture, crowning and homage. Viewers will not be able to see the most sacred part of the ceremony, which occurs when Charles is anointed ― as he will remain hidden behind a three-sided screen.
During the ceremony, which is thought to be around two to three hours, the archbishop will crown Charles with the St. Edward’s Crown. Prince William is then expected to kneel and pledge his loyalty to his father, during what is called the Homage of Royal Blood.
While there will be no shortage of extraordinarily significant historical moments throughout the ceremony, keen royal watchers will be keeping an eye out throughout the day and weekend for appearances from members of the British royal family.
Most will want to see Harry and William’s interactions, or lack thereof; whether or not Kate Middleton wears a tiara or a floral headpiece; and what sort of faces the kids might make at the Buckingham Palace flypast (nothing will ever top this perfect photo of Louis from last year’s Trooping the Colour).
Can we expect anything controversial?
Where to begin? For starters: The entire existence of the British monarchy is controversial, but there are certain parts of the coronation that stand out as especially contentious.
There’s the inclusion of the disgraced Prince Andrew, who stepped back as a working member of the royal family in 2019 following heightened controversy over his relationship with the late sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein. There is a chance that the royal, who was later stripped of his military affiliations and royal patronages in 2022, may not be allowed to wear the traditional ceremonial robes on Saturday, according to a report from The Mirror.
Queen Camilla also made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed that she would carry an ivory sceptre from the Crown Jewels’s Coronation Regalia, despite Prince William’s repeated campaigns against the ivory trade. She avoided bigger coronation controversy by removing the Koh-i-noor diamond ― also known as the “mountain of light” diamond ― from the crown she plans to wear at the ceremony.
Yet another controversial part of the ceremony emerged this weekend, after it was revealed that Charles’ coronation will include a public declaration of loyalty. Members of the public will be invited to pledge their loyalty to Charles during the ceremony in what is called the “homage of the people.”
The homage will be the first time the public will be allowed to participate in the ancient ceremony. Some, like the anti-monarchy group Republic, have called the pledge “offensive, tone deaf and a gesture that holds the people in contempt.”
In much less controversial news, the Guardian reported that the Scottish band The Proclaimers was removed from the Coronation playlist, following complaints over their views on the monarchy.
What other events will be held around the coronation? And what does Katy Perry have to do with it?
After the coronation on May 6, there are two more days of events in the U.K., which will mark the festivities with a “bank holiday” on Monday.
On Sunday, May 7, there will be a Coronation Big Lunch to mark the occasion, as well as a Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle.
The concert, which is open to 20,000 members of the public ― as well as a few special guests ― will include performances by the English pop group Take That, a Coronation Choir, Andrea Bocelli, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and more.
Perry is an ambassador for Charles’ charity, The British Asian Trust. (He also once asked her to sing to his plants, and she promised she would do so.) Richie is involved as a global ambassador for Charles’ Prince’s Trust charity.
Following the concert, people are asked to volunteer in their communities as part of The Big Help Out on Monday, May 8.
And what’s that about Andrew Lloyd Webber?
Buckingham Palace announced in February that the coronation will feature 12 newly commissioned pieces of music at the ceremony.
The intention is to showcase a “range of musical styles and performers” that will “blend tradition, heritage and ceremony with new musical voices of today, reflecting The King’s life-long love and support of music and the arts.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber, the famed composer of “Cats,” “Phantom of the Opera” and more, composed a new coronation anthem for the occasion. Lloyd Webber said his anthem “includes words slightly adapted from Psalm 98” and is hoping that his piece “reflects this joyful occasion.”
Anything I can listen to before the coronation that might interest me?
Look no further than the U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sports’s official coronation playlist, which was “created to celebrate British and Commonwealth artists ahead of the upcoming coronation.”
The playlist includes lots of familiar names ― the Beatles, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, Spice Girls, Tom Jones ― and comes to a total run time of one hour and 45 minutes. But it also raises a lot of questions, like “Is there a chance Charles will be playing ‘Daddy Cool’ or some Pet Shop Boys before he heads out the door on his big day?”
What does quiche have to do with the coronation?
Charles and Camilla have chosen “Coronation Quiche” as the celebratory dish people are invited to share during their respective “Big Lunches” held over the coronation weekend. The recipe, created by royal head chef Mark Flanagan, is not without controversy, as the U.K. is currently facing an egg shortage amid its cost-of-living crisis.
For Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, guests were invited to dine on Coronation Chicken. The meal consisted of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, green peas and mixed herbs.
How do Brits really feel about the coronation?
The reaction is fairly split, according to the results of a YouGov poll published in early April.
Some 15% of respondents said they were “very interested” in the coronation, while 29% of people said they were “fairly interested,” according to the poll, which was commissioned by the anti-monarchy group Republic.
An additional 24% said they were “not very interested,” and 28% identified themselves as “not interested at all.”
Tell me about all the weird bits.
Where to begin! Aside from the coronation quiche and coronation playlist, there are a few truly eye-popping items in the conversation that have led people to question whether they’re even really part of the coronation.
There’s the Stone of Destiny (also called the Stone of Scone) which is an incredibly symbolic part of the coronation, and even had its own, separate ceremony last week.
There are three swords with pretty iconic names (the Swords of Spiritual Justice, Mercy, and Temporal Justice) and a carriage that contains parts of a dress from Florence Nightingale, one of Sir Edmund Hillary’s ladders used to scale Mount Everest, and a counterweight from Big Ben. There’s also oil that was consecrated in Jerusalem, which will be used during the Westminster Abbey ceremony to anoint Charles and Camilla.