Gilded carriages, crown jewels polished up for King Charles III’s Coronation

Britain's first Hindu Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will read from the biblical book of Colossians soon after he and wife Akshata lead the host nation procession into the Abbey.

London: Charles, who acceded to the British throne on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in September last year, will be formally crowned King at a solemn religious ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday, last seen 70 years ago for his late mother.

Over 7,000 troops have been rehearsing into the early hours of the day in preparation for one of their most historic royal duty to date to line up the procession route for the gilded horse-drawn carriage of Charles, 74, and Camilla, 75, to be ridden from Buckingham Palace for their Coronation.

While Saturday’s ceremony will include many similar elements from Queen Elizabeth II’s crowning in June 1953, there are several crucial changes not least the cut-size congregation of 2,200 as compared to 8,000 of the past, as a nod to Charles’ sustainable outlook in the face of a cost-of-living crisis facing the country.

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The many multi-faith elements incorporated into the Christian ceremony are also reflective of his more modern touch.

“It is my prayer that all who share in this service, whether they are of faith or no faith, will find ancient wisdom and new hope that brings inspiration and joy,” said Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will be presiding over the ceremony.

Britain’s first Hindu Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will read from the biblical book of Colossians soon after he and wife Akshata lead the host nation procession into the Abbey.

House of Lords peers who belong to different faith traditions of Sikhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam will present key Regalia to the King.

While Lord Indrajit Singh, 90, will represent the Sikh faith and present the Coronation Glove, Lord Syed Kamall, 56, of Indo-Guyanese heritage, will represent the Muslim faith and present the Armills or a pair of bracelets. Lord Narendra Babubhai Patel, 84, will represent the Hindu faith and hand over the Sovereign’s Ring to Charles.

India will be represented at the gathering by Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar and his wife, Dr Sudeep Dhankhar.

On Saturday morning, the King and Queen will travel from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach created for Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the 60th anniversary of her reign in 2012.

This horse-drawn carriage is the far more comfortable one of the two to feature in the two-way procession, including air-conditioning and shock absorbers. The less comfortable royal carriage, the ancient Gold State Coach, will be used for a shorter return journey from the Abbey to the palace.

The Gold State Coach was last seen during the Pageant of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2022 and was commissioned in 1760.

The Coronation Regalia, the heart of the Crown Jewels which remain at the Tower of London for public display at all other times as a set of sacred and secular objects which symbolise the service and responsibilities of the monarch, will get their full ceremonial outing.

Charles will be crowned King as the St. Edward’s Crown is placed upon his head during the ceremony which will be made up of five key elements: the Recognition; the Oath; the Anointing; the Investiture and Crowning; and the Enthronement and Homage.

Camilla will be crowned with St. Mary’s Crown studded with Cullinan diamonds, having made the diplomatic choice to shun the customary crown embedded with the infamous Kohinoor diamond due to its colonial link with India.

While she will be “anointed” with holy oil in full public view, Charles will be anointed behind a cloth screen depicting a central design of a tree with branches filled with 56 leaves representing the Commonwealth of nations including one of the leaves dedicated to India.

The holy Chrism oil consecrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem will be symbolically touched to the monarch’s head, chest and hands as part of the religious ceremony.

Witnessing the solemn ceremony will be a congregation of 2,200 guests at the Abbey, including 850 representatives of charity and community groups as well as British Empire Medal (BEM) winners.

Among others of Indian heritage in the gathering will be British Indian chef and BEM winner Manju Malhi, who works with a senior citizens charity in the UK, will be among this group specially invited by the royal couple alongside worldwide royalty and Heads of State.

Also invited is Sourabh Phadke, a graduate of the Prince’s Foundation set up in Dumfries House, Scotland, by Charles as the Prince of Wales with a vision to provide holistic solutions to challenges facing the world. Gulfsha, winner of the Prince’s Trust Global Award and Indian-origin Jay Patel of Prince’s Trust Canada are also among the selected invitees.

Once back at the palace, the newly crowned King and Queen will receive a Royal Salute from the UK and some Commonwealth realm Armed Forces who would have been on parade that day.

They will then appear on the iconic balcony of Buckingham Palace to wave at gathered crowds and witness a Royal Air Force (RAF) flypast, that’s if the rain forecast for the day does not prove a washout for this colourful conclusion of the Coronation.

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