King Charles III was on Saturday crowned the King of the United Kingdom at Westminster Abbey, in a solemn religious ceremony that dates back almost a thousand years.
The king and his wife, Camilla, the queen consort, travelled from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey — a distance of 2.2-km — at a stately pace in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach bearing a gilded crown, which was commissioned for Queen Elizabeth II in 2012.
The king entered through the great west door of the abbey. He wore a long dark red robe as he slowly proceeded through the church behind his wife, Camilla. He was greeted by a congregation of around 2,200 – made up of heads of state and government, worldwide royalty as well as community champions.
Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar and his wife Dr Sudesh Dhankhar represented India on the historic occasion and sat alongside other Commonwealth Heads of State.
Westminster Abbey has been the site of every British Coronation since that of William The Conqueror in 1066 and King Charles III and his wife, Queen Camilla, followed in the footsteps of this grand tradition in a service themed “Called to Serve”.
The Service was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, with faith leaders and representatives of the Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish communities processing through the Abbey ahead of the service.
King Charles III took the solemn oath to govern the people of the United Kingdom with “justice and mercy” and to foster an environment where people of all faiths and beliefs can live freely after placing his hand on the Bible. He later kissed the holy book.
For his coronation, King Charles III wore the crimson velvet Robe of State, a Crimson Coronation Tunic and cream silk overshirt with Royal Naval trousers. The king’s Robe of State is made of crimson velvet and was worn by King George VI at the Coronation in 1937.
Queen Camilla, the queen consort, wore a crimson robe, this one originally made for Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Underneath she is wearing a tailored dress designed by Bruce Oldfield and created in Bruce Oldfield’s couture workrooms in Battersea, London.
Rishi Sunak made history as the first Indian-origin British Prime Minister to perform a reading at the Coronation ceremony.
As the country’s first Hindu head of government, the 42-year-old read from the Epistle to the Colossians from the New Testament reflecting the theme of service to others, in keeping with the recent tradition of UK Prime Ministers giving readings at State occasions.
He and wife Akshata Murty, the daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, led the procession of flag-bearers as the UK’s Union Jack flag was carried into the Abbey by a high-ranking Royal Air Force (RAF) cadet.
“In the Abbey where monarchs have been crowned for almost a thousand years, representatives of every faith will play a central role for the first time,” said Sunak, in a statement on the eve of the historic event.
“The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla will be a moment of extraordinary national pride. Together with friends from across the Commonwealth and beyond, we will celebrate the enduring nature of our great monarchy: its constancy, devotion to duty, and service to others. No other country could put on such a dazzling display – the processions, the pageantry, the ceremonies, and street parties,” he said.
However, he stressed the Coronation – the first in 70 years since Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in June 1953 – is not just a spectacle but a proud expression of history, culture, and traditions.
The medieval tradition began with the Archbishop of Canterbury presenting Charles III to the congregation as the “undoubted king.”
The two-hour-long ceremony at the Abbey will conclude with the chiming of Abbey bells and the newly crowned King and Queen making their way to another waiting horse-drawn historic Gold State Coach. Last seen during the Pageant of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2022 and used at every Coronation since that of William IV in 1831.
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