Now the time has finally come: Around eight months after taking office, King Charles III. and his wife Queen Camilla was crowned. All is set in London for the historic ceremony - the first coronation of a British monarch in 70 and the first of a king in 86 years.
Tens of thousands of onlookers expected
More than 2300 guests will follow the service in Westminster Abbey, plus millions on the screens. Representatives from 203 countries are expected, including around 100 heads of state. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will represent Germany.
The famous church, which hosted the state funeral for Charles' mother Queen Elizabeth II in September, opens its doors hours before the ceremony begins. Even earlier, however, many of the expected tens of thousands of onlookers are on their feet.
Some Royal fans have been camping for days on the route that will take Charles and Camilla from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey in the morning. The so-called royal procession, in which the royal couple is chauffeured in the modern "Diamond Jubilee State Coach", is scheduled to arrive at the church at 11:53 a.m. (CEST). There the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, receives 74-year-old Charles and 75-year-old Camilla.
Prime Minister Sunak: "Moment of national pride"
The spiritual leader of the Anglican Church praised the forthcoming coronation as a symbol of modern Britain. It serves as a "powerful reflection and celebration of who we are today, in all our wonderful diversity," Welby said in a statement.
For the first time, representatives of other religions will also play an important role at the coronation. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the ceremony was not just a spectacle but a "proud expression" of British history and "a moment of exceptional national pride".
The service follows centuries-old traditions. The highlights are the anointing of the king with holy oil, which is the only moment not captured by cameras because of its sacred significance, and soon afterwards the coronation itself. The archbishop places the heavy, golden Edwardian crown on the monarch's head.
The clergyman and heir to the throne, Prince William Charles, then swear allegiance. However, the fact that the Church of England also encouraged the population to make a loud oath of allegiance was met with ridicule. After Charles, Camilla is also crowned in a shorter ceremony.
Pompous parade back to the palace
Charles has been king since his mother's death on September 8, 2022. The coronation merely symbolizes his assumption of office.
With great pomp and accompanied by thousands of military personnel, the couple then return to Buckingham Palace in the Golden State Coach. There the two show themselves together with the closest family from the balcony to the people. Charles' younger son Prince Harry and his brother Prince Andrew, who are attending the coronation, will not be there.
They gave up their royal duties years ago. Harry also wants to quickly return to his son Prince Archie in the United States, who celebrates his fourth birthday on Saturday. It was still unclear on Friday evening whether a planned overflight of British Air Force aerobatic pilots would take place. Bad weather may prevent the maneuver.
There are a few changes for Charles since the coronation of his mother Queen Elizabeth II 70 years ago. In 1953, for example, there were a good 8,000 guests, significantly more people. The procession route from the church back to Buckingham Palace was also much longer at that time. Charles wants to slim down the monarchy.
Opponents of the monarchy criticize costs
However, there is criticism that the cost of around 250 million pounds (286 million euros) from the state treasury for security and ceremony is far too high given the rising prices for energy and food. Also, according to polls, a majority of people in the UK are not interested in the coronation. Opponents of the monarchy have announced protests.
Charles and Camilla did not spend the night before the ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The couple had dinner at Clarence House, the official residence of the British heir to the throne, according to the palace on Saturday night. Camilla and Charles wanted to return to their London City Palace in the morning.