Buckingham Palace is holding a 3-day coronation weekend for King Charles III
LONDON — King Charles III has signaled he wants a streamlined coronation ceremony. But that doesn’t mean an economically depressed Britain won’t throw an extravagant party as it crowns its first king in seven decades in May.
Late Saturday, Buckingham Palace announced details of a three-day jamboree that will rival Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee last June. Highlights include a star-studded concert at Windsor Castle, a series of nationwide street parties and a national volunteering campaign, titled ‘The Big Help Out’.
The sheer scale of the festivities may seem surprising as the palace had previously indicated that Charles wanted a scaled-down ceremony, compared to his mother’s, given the cost of living crisis plaguing the country. But the British government is now seeing the coronation weekend as an opportunity to boost morale after a harsh winter, according to people familiar with the planning, and it has encouraged the royal family to do the maximum.
The palace is still expected to shorten the service, which will take place on May 6 at Westminster Abbey and will be led by the Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. This will reduce the guest list and remove some of the oldest rituals from a ceremony that dates back nearly 1,000 years.
But coronations allow the public, in Britain and around the world, to take part in the royal festivities. Elizabeth’s coronation in June 1953 was the first to be televised, attracting an estimated worldwide audience of over 250 million.
Many of the settings from that show – a grand procession to the palace from the abbey, complete with a golden carriage, and an appearance by the king and his family on the balcony – will remain. And with Britons enjoying a day off on Monday, May 8, in honor of the new king, the palace is planning two more days of festivities.
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“Their Majesties the King and Queen Consort hope Coronation Weekend will be an opportunity to spend time and celebrate with friends, families and communities across the UK, Kingdoms and Commonwealth” , the palace said in a statement on Saturday evening.
The party begins on Sunday, May 7, when pop and rock stars join a coronation choir at Windsor Castle for a televised concert. It’s not yet known who will be performing, but if the Queen’s Jubilee concert is any indication – it featured Alicia Keys, Duran Duran, Rod Stewart and Queen guitarist Brian May – the lineup will be strong.
In keeping with what the palace said was Charles’ wish for a coronation that reflects the times, the choir will include people from singing groups made up of the deaf, refugees and LGBTQ people. The concert will end with a national lighting display, using lasers and drones – technology put to good use last spring with images of the Queen and her handbag floating above Buckingham Palace.
The series of street parties, dubbed ‘The Coronation Big Lunch’, also borrow from the Platinum Jubilee, with the palace planning for thousands of gatherings in streets, gardens and parks across Britain. It will be a showcase for the queen consort, Camilla, who has served as godmother to a charity which organizes public lunches for people living alone.
On this Monday, when many Britons will enjoy a unique bank holiday on May 8, the palace hopes some will take up voluntary work. Charles, as Prince of Wales, has emphasized voluntary service through his charitable works and considers it a major legacy of his coronation, according to the palace.
The palace has left important questions about the coronation unanswered, including whether the king’s youngest son, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan, will be invited. Harry’s best-selling memoir ‘Spare’ deepened the rift between him and his father and brother Prince William – claiming, among other things, that he and Meghan were abused by Charles and William.
The Palace has staunchly refused to respond to the accusations, and it is not expected to address the issue of inviting Harry and Meghan for some time. May 6 will be the fourth birthday of the couple’s son, Archie, which could affect Meghan’s travel plans, if not her father. In an interview with ITV to promote his book, Harry did not commit to making the trip from his home in Southern California.
“A lot can happen between now and then,” he said.
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