Prince Charles Philip Arthur George has been officially crowned as the new King of the United Kingdom.
The new King who goes by the title King Charles III, was anointed and crowned at around 12pm on Saturday at the Westminster Abbey by the Bishop of Canterbury.
It is Britain’s biggest ceremonial event for seven decades, a display of pomp and pageantry that sought to marry 1,000 years of history with a monarchy fit for a new era.
In front of a congregation including about 100 world leaders and a television audience of millions, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, slowly placed the 360-year-old St Edward’s Crown on Charles’ head as he sat upon a 14th-century throne in Westminster Abbey.
During a historic and solemn two-hour service, which dates back to the time of King William the Conqueror in 1066, Charles’ second wife Camilla was also crowned queen.
A huge military procession followed, gun salutes were fired, thousands of soldiers roared three cheers, and there was a scaled-down flypast by military aircraft as the newly-crowned king and queen waved from the balcony of Buckingham Palace to cheering crowds who gathered on The Mall boulevard.
While rooted in history, the ceremony – televised for only the second time – was also an attempt to present a forward-looking institution and to reflect a more diverse country with all its religions.
“No other country could put on such a dazzling display – the processions, the pageantry, the ceremonies, and street parties,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
With Britain struggling to find its way in the political maelstrom after its exit from the European Union and maintain its standing in a new world order, the monarchy’s supporters say the royal family provides an international draw, a vital diplomatic tool and a means of keeping it on the world stage.
But despite Sunak’s enthusiasm, the coronation took place amid a cost of living crisis and public scepticism, particularly among the young, about the role and relevance of the monarchy.
Charles, 74, automatically succeeded his mother as king on her death last September. The coronation is not essential but regarded as a means to legitimise the new sovereign in a public way.
Saturday’s event was on a smaller scale than that staged for Queen Elizabeth in 1953, but still sought to be spectacular. There was an array of historical regalia from golden orbs and bejewelled swords to a sceptre holding the world’s largest colourless cut diamond.
After the service, Charles and Camilla, 75, departed in the four-tonne Gold State Coach built for George III, the last king of Britain’s American colonies, to ride to Buckingham Palace in a one-mile procession of 4,000 military personnel from 39 nations.
Meanwhile hundreds of soldiers in scarlet uniforms and black bearskin hats lined the route along The Mall in what was the largest ceremonial event of its kind in Britain since the coronation of Charles’ mother.
Ten of thousands of people ignored pouring rain to mass on the streets to watch what some saw as a moment of history.