Dawn of a new era: The Coronation of King Charles III

Buckingham Palace and Union Jack flags

The Coronation of King Charles III is just around the corner, however for the majority of Australians it will be the first time they experience this rare ceremony. Ben Collison explains what the coronation will actually involve, who will attend, and what changes will occur.

No one can do pomp and circumstance quite like the British. Whether you are a monarchist or a republican; one must admire the pageantry, precision, grandeur, and tradition that centres around state occasions involving the Royal Family. On the 6th of May (UK Time), the world will be treated to a spectacle that we haven’t seen in nearly seven decades with the coronation of His Majesty, King Charles III. At age 74, His Majesty is the oldest monarch to assume the throne. Such is a testament to the reign of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. 

A newspaper clipping from the coronation of the Queen

Newcastle Morning Herald June 3, 1953. Image source National Library of Australia

The last time Australians witnessed a coronation was in 1953, when the world was an entirely different place. Still emerging from the shadows of World War Two, Australia found itself again in a struggle on the icy plateaus of Korea. (How Much is that) Doggie in the Window by Pattie Page was sitting on top of the music charts and Cecil B. DeMille’s The Great Show on Earth starring James Stewart and Betty Hutton won the Oscar for Best Film. Australian tennis legend Ken Roswell and American Maureen Connolly won the men’s and women’s titles at the Australian Open; and Beaconsfield, Tasmania became the first Australian township to use fluoride in its water. The jet age was still in its infancy and mankind was sixteen years away from landing on the Moon.

Since the last coronation, there have been sixteen Australian Prime Ministers spanning from Sir Robert Menzies to the incumbent Anthony Albanese. Our population was almost nine million. Globally, the broadcast of the late Queens coronation rushed in a new era of global communication. It was the first major world event to be broadcasted live around the globe with approximately two hundred and seventy-seven million people watching. When Queen Elizabeth II passed away, the BBC reported that her funeral was watched by over five billion viewers. Estimations for the Kings’ Coronation are conflicting with many traditionalists opting not to view or partake in the celebrations. Following the coronation, across the Commonwealth; community celebratory events will be held.

What happens at a coronation?

The short version is a state procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey where HM The King will undertake a series of processions culminating with the Act of Recognition, the Anointing, and the Coronation Oath. During this, the Crown of St Edward will be bestowed upon the King by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Following the procession at Westminster, His Majesty will return to Buckingham Palace.

A Yeoman at the Tower of London wearing the new cypher of King Charles III. Image Source BBC

A Yeoman at the Tower of London wearing the new cypher of King Charles III. Image Source BBC

Who will attend the coronation?

Buckingham Palace officials report a list of two thousand guests who have been invited, comprising mostly of Commonwealth leaders, foreign heads of state and prominent citizens from around the globe. This is a dramatic cutback from the eight thousand that were invited to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This is in part to the austerity measures HM The King is implementing as well as health and security concerns. From Australia, His Excellency, The Governor General, General David Hurley AO DSC and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will attend. Other selected dignitaries will also be in attendance, including State Governors, Territory administrators and military veterans like Corporal Daniel Keighran VC. Thirty-nine members of the Federation Guard will also take part in the ceremonial precession.

What changes will occur after the coronation?

A wide variety of changes will occur across the commonwealth. From new insignias on military and state uniforms, new portraits of the Monarch in Government offices to new oaths/affirmations of allegiance for government organisations will take place among many other things. The most notable change for many will be the rollout of the King’s new cypher replacing that of Queen Elizabeth II. The famous EIIR seen most prominently on Beefeater Uniforms and mailboxes across the United Kingdom will feature the new cypher of Charles III.

Where can I watch the coronation?

The coronation will be broadcasted on all major networks commencing at 8:15pm AEST.

Feature Image by Jhoan Cordoba, Pixabay

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