LONDON – King Charles III and Camilla, the queen consort, will be crowned at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday – continuing a tradition dating back more than 1,000 years.
Thousands of cheering people lined the streets and began their procession through central London in a golden carriage led by six horses towards the coronation service at Westminster Abbey.
Around 200 members of the British Army are mounted on horses as part of the coronation procession, often referred to as the Household Cavalry Regiment. Around 1,000 soldiers, sailors and Royal Airmen line both sides of the approach to Westminster Abbey.
Charles and Camilla disembarked from their three-ton carriage at Westminster Abbey’s Great West Door, flanked by church officials and followed by supporters in red uniforms.
As the bells rang outside, trumpets and singing filled the interior of the abbey, marking Charles and Camilla’s procession through the nave and past a large choir at the start of the formal ceremony.
In his first speech of the ceremony, Charles said he had come “to serve, not to be served” and to follow the example of the “king of kings”.
After being given an audience and repeatedly proclaimed king, Charles made a series of promises regarding his responsibilities in this new role.
In his address to the congregation, Britain’s most senior cleric, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, told those in the abbey and millions watching on television at home, “We are here to crown a king, we are here to crown a king to serve.”
Welby later blessed the oil, which was used to formally anoint Charles as king. As the choir sang again, Charles removed several layers of his clothing and entered behind a curtain where he was anointed with oil, hidden from public view but close to the altar.
Thousands of people lined the procession route, many of them carrying British flags, as Charles cheered and sang before being driven off in a decorated carriage in a light morning rain.
Inside Westminster Abbey, dignitaries, celebrities and leaders of Britain’s various political parties arrived ahead of the ceremony. The congregation includes singers such as Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, who will sing at a concert organized to celebrate the coronation this weekend.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will take part in the proceedings, along with Olena Zelenska, the Prime Minister of Ukraine and wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and several of his senior ministers have arrived for the ceremony. Former British leaders Liz Truss, Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair also joined the thousands who attended the Abbey. US First Lady Jill Biden was also among the guests.
Anti-monarchy protesters were arrested by the police
On the edge of Trafalgar Square, several anti-monarchy protesters from a campaign group called The Republic were arrested when they began to unload printed placards. London’s Metropolitan Police force has announced that a “significant operation” is currently underway in the city centre.
Tens of thousands had gathered hours before the procession was expected to begin. Anti-monarchy protesters were also expected.
Footage posted on social media showed the group’s chief executive, Graham Smith, being arrested by police alongside five demonstrators wearing T-shirts that read “Not my king”.
The Republic criticized the response they called for
He said the protest was peaceful and the police would not divulge the reason
More than 11,000 officers were deployed across the capital on Saturday, and the force’s chief commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, had warned earlier this week that there would be “very low tolerance for misconduct” on streets near the festival.
NPR’s Lauren Frayer and Don Clyde contributed to this post.
NPR will update this post throughout the festivities.