LONDON (AP) – King Charles III is crowned Saturday in Westminster Abbey, in a ceremony steeped in ancient ritual and full of exuberance at a time when the monarchy is striving to stay relevant in a fractured modern Britain.
In a culmination with displays of royal power straight out of the Middle Ages, Charles is presented with an orb, sword and scepter and the jeweled crown of St Edward placed on his head as he sits on his head for 700 years. Old oak chair.
Before world leaders, foreign royals, dignitaries and a few luminaries, Charles declared: “I have not come to serve but to be served.” Inside the medieval abbey, trumpets sounded, and the congregation of more than 2,000 people chanted “God save the King!” Outside, thousands of soldiers, hundreds of thousands of spectators, and dozens of demonstrators gathered.
It was the culmination of a seven-decade journey To the king from heir to king.
For the royal family and government, the occasion – dubbed Operation Golden Orb – was a display of heritage, tradition and spectacle. Unparalleled all over the world.
For the crowds gathered under a rainy sky—thousands of whom had camped overnight—this was an opportunity to be part of a historic occasion.
Julie Newman, a 77-year-old visitor from Canada, said the royal motorcade was “absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
“But we’re ready to go home and watch it all on TV,” she added.
But for millions more, the day was greeted with sneers, and the awe and respect the ceremony was designed to evoke were largely over.
And for a few of them, it was cause for protest. Hundreds who want to see Britain become a republic have gathered to shout “Not mine!”. They see the monarchy as an institution that defends privilege and inequality, in a country where poverty is increasing and social ties are being shaken. A handful have been arrested.
As the day began, the monastery was filled with excitement and was glowing with fragrant flowers and colorful hats. The dignitaries poured in: First Lady of the United States Jill Biden, First Lady Olena Zelenska of Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron, eight current and former British prime ministers, judges in wigs, soldiers with shimmering medals, and celebrities including Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and Lionel Richie.
During a traditional evangelistic service slightly modified for modern times, Charles, dressed in crimson, cream velvet and fur-trimmed robes, swears on the Bible that he is a “true Protestant”.
But a preface to the Coronation Oath was added to say that the Anglican Church “will endeavor to foster an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs can live freely”. This was the first concert to feature actors Of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh religions, as well as the first beliefs in which women clerics participated.
Charles was anointed with oil from the Mount of Olives in the Holy Land — a part of the ceremony so sacred it was hidden behind screens — before being presented with an orb and other symbols.
Then the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby placed the tiara on Charles’ head, while he was seated in the coronation chair – which had been set in gold, now worn and engraved with graffiti. Below the seat is a sacred slab known as the Scone Stone, upon which the ancient Scottish kings were crowned.
For 1,000 years and more, such lavish ceremonies have taken place They confirmed the right of the British monarchs to rule. Charles was the 40th monarch to be enthroned in the abbey – and the oldest at 74.
These days, the king no longer held executive or political power, and the service was purely ceremonial since Charles automatically became king upon the death of his motherQueen Elizabeth II, in September.
The monarch remains the UK’s head of state and a symbol of national identity – and Charles will have to work to unite a multicultural nation And support for the monarchy at the time was waning, especially among the young.
While most Britons view the monarchy on a scale from indifference to moderate interest, some are fiercely opposed to it. The anti-monarchy group Republic said several of its members, including its chief executive, were arrested upon arrival at a protest in central London.
Police, who had warned they would not tolerate people seeking to disrupt the day, said they made 52 arrests. Human Rights Watch said that the arrest of peaceful protesters was “something you would expect to see in Moscow, not in London”.
And the multimillion-pound cost of all the pomp — the exact figure is unknown — has also alarmed some amid the cost-of-living crisis. This means that many Britons struggle to pay energy bills and buy food.
Charles sought to helm a smaller, less expensive royal machine for the 21st century, and his affair was shorter and smaller than his mother’s coronation.
The famous royal family has competed to show their unity. Prince William, who will be next in line to be king, was all present with his wife Kate and their three children. Towards the end of the ceremony, William knelt before his father and pledged allegiance to the king – before kissing him on the cheek.
Then Archbishop Welby called everyone in the abbey to swear “true loyalty” to the king. He said people watching TV could also be honored – though that part of the ceremony was toned down after some criticized it as a muted effort to demand public oaths of allegiance to Charles.
Prince Harry, William’s younger brother, who has publicly quarreled with the familyHe arrived alone. His wife, Meghan, and their children have remained at home in California, where the couple have lived since they stepped down as royals in 2020.
When Charles and the royals joined a magnificent military motorcade after the ceremony, Harry stood waiting outside the abbey until a car arrived to remove him.
Large crowds cheered as Charles and Queen Camilla, who were also crowned, rode the Gold State Carriage from the Abbey to Buckingham Palace, accompanied by a procession of 4,000 soldiers and military bands playing groovy tunes. From the balcony of the palace, the king and queen waved to a sea of people who cheered and shouted “God save the king!”
For many other Brits, the events of the day aroused mild curiosity at best.
Sherry Duffy, who was visiting London from Anglesey, Wales, on a trip planned before the coronation date was set, saw the ceremony on TV — but only because someone else had turned it on.
“There’s a general feeling of not being disturbed,” she said of how she and her friends feel.
Associated Press writers Sylvia Hoy and Brian Milley contributed to this report.
Follow AP coverage of King Charles III at https://apnews.com/hub/king-charles-iii
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