June 3, 2023

London — King Charles told his advisors long before his own coronation ceremony that he “wanted them to start afresh,” according to historian and CBS News royal contributor Amanda Foreman. “So, what we are going to see is a very, very different coronation” compared to the ceremony held for his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953.

So, what are the differences?

King Charles’ “plus one”

Charles’ wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, will be formally crowned alongside her husband during the May 6 coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Upon her coronation, she will drop the “consort” from her title and be known as Queen Camilla.

Prince Philip, the longtime husband of Queen Elizabeth, was never crowned, and was known throughout the queen’s reign as her “liege lord.”

While Queen Camilla will be crowned — specifically with Queen Mary’s Crown from the royal family’s extensive Crown Jewels collection — her role does not convey any political power, like Charles’ mother had as the queen “regnant” and Britain’s sovereign. That role and the power it conveys, though extremely limited under modern Britain’s constitutional monarchy, lies entirely with Charles.

What he wears

King Charles will wear several historic garments for his actual coronation ceremony, including heavy ceremonial robes made of gold thread, but unlike his mother, underneath it all, Foreman said the king was “not going to wear a special outfit. He’s going to wear his military uniform.”

Queen Elizabeth, on the other hand, had a special Coronation Dress commissioned by a British designer.

According to the Royal Collection Trust, the designer “submitted nine different designs and the queen accepted the eighth, but suggested the addition of embroideries in various colours rather than all in silver.” 

Queen Elizabeth Ii And The Duke Of Edinburgh On Their Coronation Day
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, on the day of her coronation, Buckingham Palace, 1953. (Colorised black and white print). 

The Print Collector/Getty Images

A smaller affair

King Charles’ coronation will be a much smaller affair than his mother’s. 

Approximately 2,000 guests have been invited, as opposed to the over 8,000 people who were invited to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth’s ceremony lasted almost three hours, but King Charles’ will last only two hours.

The coronation processions will differ in size, too. King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will travel to Westminster Abbey, and then the king and Queen Camilla — with her new official title — will travel back to Buckingham Palace along on the same route, which takes approximately 40 minutes at the speed of a horse-drawn carriage. 

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort
King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort during a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace on Nov. 22, 2022 in London, England.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth’s procession from Westminster Abbey back to the palace after her coronation took a much more circuitous route, with her waving and smiling to well-wishers for around five hours.

The coronation oath

Britain has changed a lot in the decades since Queen Elizabeth was crowned, with a majority of the country no longer describing themselves as Christian.

However, England legally remains a Christian nation, and the Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, is the official religion, with the monarch serving as its titular head, known as the Defender of the Faith. The coronation ceremony itself is a Christian ritual.

In the 1990’s, then-Prince Charles sparked controversy when he said he would be a defender of faith in general, rather than the Defender of the Faith. 

In his coronation oath, he will give a nod to other religions, kneeling before the altar in Westminster Abbey and saying: “God of compassion and mercy whose Son was sent not to be served but to serve, give grace that I may find in thy service perfect freedom and in that freedom knowledge of thy truth. Grant that I may be a blessing to all thy children, of every faith and belief, that together we may discover the ways of gentleness and be led into the paths of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

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