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King Charles III and Camilla, queen consort, were officially crowned king and queen during Saturday’s coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey, the first coronation there since Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was crowned in 1953.
Huge crowds lined the royal family’s way to and from the ceremony over the course of several hours.
Charles and Camilla began their march to the coronation from Buckingham Palace through central London in a golden chariot drawn by eight horses.
About 200 members of the British Army were ridden on horses as part of the procession, mostly from what is known as the Household Cavalry Regiment. On both sides of the road leading to Westminster Abbey were about 1,000 soldiers, sailors and members of the Royal Air Force.
They disembarked from their three-ton carriage at the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, surrounded by church officials and followed by an entourage of red-uniformed support staff.
While the bells rang outside, trumpets and singing filled the interior of the abbey to mark their procession through the nave and past the great choir, before taking their seats at the start of the solemn ceremony.
In the first part of the ceremony, Charles says he has come “to be served, not to be served” and to follow the example of “the King of Kings”.
After being introduced to the public and repeatedly proclaimed king, Charles took a series of oaths relating to his responsibilities in this new role.
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In his address to the congregation, Britain’s chief clergyman, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told those out there and those watching TV at home that “we are here to crown a king and we crown a king to serve.”
He later meets the blessed oil that will be used to formally anoint Charles. When the choir sang again, Charles removed several layers of his robe and entered behind a curtain where he was anointed with oil, hidden from view, but close to the altar.
Over the course of several minutes, Charles is presented with several symbolic items, including swords and spurs, dating back many centuries, before his coronation.
The heavy crown was placed on Charles’ head as he held two golden rods – one in each hand – as he sat silently on a 700-year-old wooden throne. “God save the King,” cried Archbishop Welby, and the assembled reciprocated, before trumpet noise.
The most senior member of the British clergy and Charles’s son, Prince William, pledged allegiance to the king before the crowd responded with “May the king live forever.”
Camilla was crowned as Queen soon after, and sat next to her husband on two identical chairs as the chorus began to sing.
A light rain fell over the course of the morning as thousands lined the procession’s route, many carrying British flags, cheering and singing before Charles died in an ornate carriage.
Inside Westminster Abbey, aristocrats, celebrities, and leaders from a variety of British political parties arrived before the ceremony. The congregation included singers like Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, who will perform at a concert organized to celebrate the coronation this weekend.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak read a passage from the Bible, and several of his senior ministers also attended the ceremony at Westminster Abbey, along with the Prime Minister of Ukraine and Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Former British leaders including Les Truss, Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair also attended. US First Lady Jill Biden also attended.
A grand procession, again featuring a horse-drawn carriage, brought the royal family back to Buckingham Palace
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After returning from Westminster Abbey to nearby Buckingham Palace, he was greeted by hundreds of military personnel in ceremonial uniforms for King Charles and Queen Camilla, lined up in the vast ornamental garden garden at the rear of the residence.
Then the couple returned to the overview on the long balcony at the front end of the building. Thousands of supporters who lined the streets were allowed to advance near the front of the palace, huddled in the open area, but were prevented by dozens of policemen and towering railings.
He was joined outside by select members of Charles’s family – Princes Harry and Andrew who are notable for their absence – as helicopters operated by the British Army, Navy and Air Force flew overhead.
It continued to rain heavily as Air Force planes circled overhead, spewing red, white and blue fumes. The King raised his eyes but did not look like many of his relatives: his new crown, which was conspicuously heavy and delicately balanced on his head, prevented such a dramatic movement.
The British national anthem blasted off again, as Charles waved to the sea of people below him, then turned around and entered again in an even more private ceremony.
Police arrest anti-monarchy protesters
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On the edge of Trafalgar Square, several anti-monarchy protesters from a campaign group called Republic were caught before the march as they began unloading printed banners. London’s Metropolitan Police have announced a “major operation” in the city centre.
Footage posted on social media appeared to show Graham Smith, the group’s chief executive, being arrested by police along with five other protesters wearing T-shirts that read “Not mine”.
Republic criticized the measure in response to what they described
peacefully protested, and said the police did not provide a reason for this
The coronation cost taxpayers the equivalent of about $125 million.
More than 11,000 officers were deployed across the capital on Saturday and the head of the force, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, warned earlier this week that in the streets near the party there would be “an extremely low tolerance for disorder”.
NPR’s Lauren Fryer and Don Clyde contributed to this post.
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