King Charles III and Camilla, the queen consort, were officially crowned king and queen during a coronation ceremony Saturday at Westminster Abbey, the first coronation there since that of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, back in 1953.
Massive crowds lined the royals’ route to and from the ceremony over the course of several hours.
Charles and Camilla began their procession toward the coronation from Buckingham Palace through Central London in a golden carriage led by eight horses.
About 200 members of the British military were mounted on horses as part of the procession, largely drawn from what’s known as the Household Cavalry Regiment. On either side of the route to Westminster Abbey were around 1,000 other soldiers, sailors and Royal Air Force personnel.
They disembarked from their three-ton carriage at the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, flanked by church officials and followed by a retinue of support staff dressed in red uniforms.
While bells rang outside, trumpets and singing filled the inside of the Abbey to mark their procession through the nave and past a large choir, before taking their seats at the start of the formal ceremony.
n his first spoken part of the ceremony, Charles said that he has come to “serve, not to be served” and to follow the example of the “king of kings.”
After being presented to the audience and repeatedly proclaimed as king, Charles swore a series of oaths that relate to his responsibilities in this new role.
In his address to the congregation, the most senior clergyman in Britain, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, told those there and those watching on television at home that “we are here to crown a king and we crown a king to serve.”
Welby later blessed oil that would be used to formally anoint Charles. As the choir sang again, Charles removed several layers of his robes and entered behind a screen where he was anointed by the oil, hidden from public view, but close to the altar.
Over the course of several minutes, Charles was presented with several symbolic items, including swords and spurs, many centuries old, ahead of his crowning.
The heavy crown was placed on Charles’ head as he held two golden rods — one in each hand — as he sat silently upon a 700-year-old wooden throne. Archbishop Welby shouted “God Save the King,” and those gathered responded in kind, before thundering trumpet fanfare.
The most senior members of Britain’s clergy and Charles’ son, Prince William, pledged allegiance to the king before the audience replied with “may the king live forever.”
Camilla was crowned as queen shortly after, and sat alongside her husband in identical chairs as the choir began to sing.
A light rain had been falling over the course of the morning as thousands of people lined up along the procession route, many of them carrying British flags as they cheered and sang before Charles passed in an ornate carriage.
After returning from Westminster Abbey to nearby Buckingham Palace, King Charles and Queen Camilla were welcomed by hundreds of military personnel in ceremonial uniforms arrayed on the ornate garden’s vast lawn at the rear of the residence.
The pair then returned to the public gaze on the long balcony at the front facade of the building. Thousands of supporters that had lined the streets were permitted to draw near to the front of the palace, thronging the open area but held back by dozens of police and towering railings.
Select members of Charles’ family joined him outside — Princes Harry and Andrew notable by their absences — as helicopters operated by Britain’s Army, Navy and Air Force flew overhead.
The rain continued to fall quite heavily as Air Force jets roared overhead, trailing fumes in the national colors of red, white and blue. The King raised his eyes but did not look up like so many of his relatives: His new crown, clearly heavy and delicately balanced on his head, precluded such a dramatic movement.
The British national anthem sounded out once again, as Charles waved to the sea of people below him, then turned and re-entered for a more private celebration.