Coronation Live Updates: Charles III Is Crowned King
For the first time in the living memory of most of the people gathered in central London on Saturday, it was time to crown a monarch.
They came out before dawn to line a processional route that would be traversed two times during King Charles III’s coronation day through the heart of the royal parks, stretching from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey and back.
For the third time in less than a year, royal spectacles have played out in that very space, along similar routes, with all of the pomp and pageantry the public expects: first with the excitement at Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June, then with an outpouring of grief for her funeral in September, and now for the crowning of her son.
Each time, the public has come out to watch, from passionate royal watchers to those just happy for a day out.
Early Saturday morning, Sarah Chappell, 23, and Zoë Boyce, 24, were having breakfast on a blanket in Green Park, along the procession route, as they waited for the festivities to begin.
“I am just intrigued,” Ms. Boyce said, describing herself as “not a big fan” of King Charles. “I think you can appreciate it without supporting it.”
“I think it’s just a day in history, isn’t it?” Ms. Chappell said, describing herself as an enthusiastic supporter of the royal family and the monarchy. She said she had come for the queen’s funeral last year and wanted to be there again this weekend to soak up the crowd and the vibe.
But soaked is what many got while they waited for hours between the two processions along the royal route to and from Westminster Abbey as a steady drizzle fell for much of the morning.
Those who did manage to get one of the coveted seats on a purpose-built stand in front of Buckingham Palace were among the first to glimpse the king on his coronation day as he passed by in a golden carriage.
“God Save the King,” Britain’s national anthem, played, setting the stage before Charles and Queen Camilla made their way past, and those in the crowd in the stands chanted, “Hip, hip, hooray!” as the royal couple waved.
The stands were filled with thousands of public servants, including veterans and members of the National Health Service. Thousands more lined the Mall, which stretches out in front of the palace, hoping to view the festivities. But as the coronation unfolded a little over a mile away at the abbey, the rain and chill made for a subdued atmosphere as a radio broadcast of the ceremony echoed out over the crowd.
Nicola Ford, 37, a student nurse, and Mikey Walker, 31, who works for the ambulance service, traveled to London from Sussex on Saturday morning to be part of the occasion. Having arrived too late to enter the Mall, the friends went to Hyde Park for a chance to soak up the atmosphere.
“It’s seeing everyone, watching it and hearing everyone cheer,” Mr. Walker said. “It’s the chance of a lifetime, isn’t it?”
“The public are really supportive of Charles,” Ms. Ford added. “He’ll be a very respected king.”
That was not a universally shared sentiment on Saturday. Protesters in Trafalgar Square wearing yellow T-shirts and holding signs reading “Who voted for him?” chanted, “Not my king.”
Some onlookers reacted angrily to the anti-monarchy protest. “Do they expect a republic to be better?” said Stephen Morse, 62, who came to London from Birmingham for the coronation. “Imagine having Boris Johnson as head of state.”
The police said earlier that they would have little tolerance for disruption, and a handful of the protesters were arrested.
But for the crowds who came for a royal shindig, the day crescendoed into something they have come to know well — a wave from the members of the Royal House of Windsor from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
And although they may still be getting used to the family’s new makeup, with a king at the helm for the first time in over seven decades, the public rushed up the Mall, filling the length and width of the avenue. As the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team known as the Red Arrows flew overhead, they cheered their newly anointed monarch and shouted out in unison, “God save the king.”
Saskia Solomon and Emma Bubola contributed reporting.