When Elizabeth II’s unprecedented 70-year reign on the English throne finally ended when she passed away at the age of 96 in September 2022, King Charles III quietly stepped up, proving Keeping Calm and Carrying On runs in the family. Though the Monarchy might not be as popular as it once was, it's not going anywhere anytime soon. Therefore, as is tradition, King Charles III will be coronated in due course, and, like his mother before him, it will be televised.
Elizabeth’s coronation took over a year to prepare; her father, George VI, passed on February 2, 1952, but her ceremony did not occur until June 2, 1953. It was the first to be broadcast live, the second-ever live broadcast event in the Western world after Eisenhower's inauguration earlier that year, airing in the UK and Europe simultaneously. (Americans, Canadians, and Australians watched on tape delay the next day, which was a super fast turnaround at the time.)
Charles is not waiting so long, nor will his coronation take nearly as many days. Elizabeth’s coronation came with two bank holidays and four days of celebration, though it was only considered a single-day event. Charles will only have a single bank holiday, but the entire three days, from Saturday to Monday, is being treated as a celebration, a shrinkflation worthy of the monarchy. It will also roll directly into Eurovision, which begins on Tuesday, May 9, and runs through Saturday, the 13, creating a week-long celebration on the BBC.
Here is everything to know about King Charles III's Coronation Weekend, from the bank holidays to when and where the ceremony will be broadcast.
When Will The Coronation Be Held?
The Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla will occur on Saturday, May 6, 2023, guaranteeing that Friday will default to a “no one does anything” day, even if it is not a formal bank holiday. Sunday, May 7, will feature a “Coronation Big Lunch” and “Coronation Concert,” the latter of which is expected to be broadcast countrywide with as many stars of the day as can be rounded up. Monday, May 8, the official bank holiday, is being billed as “The Big Help Out,” a day to volunteer in the community in honor of Charles’ ascension, emphasizing his decades of charity work.
What Time Is The Coronation Happening?
Unlike Elizabeth's state funeral, which caused a complete shutdown of programming on the BBC in favor of endless coverage of people queuing and herses parading through the streets, Friday, May 5, 2023, will be a semi-normal programming day on the BBC. Only the rolling news channels will dedicate themselves to preparation coverage and high-profile arrivals, coverage of which will be available on all BBC rolling news stations worldwide. However, some BBC series will be doing special edition episodes dedicated to the Coronation in the run-up to the weekend, including Countryfile, Bargain Hunt, The One Show, and EastEnders.
Coverage of The Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla will officially begin at 7:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, May 6, 2023. The BBC, ITV, and Sky are all expected to cover it live, with continuous commercial-free coverage on BBC One and Two, ITV1, and Sky News. Coverage is expected to go through 3 p.m. that afternoon.
On the BBC, hosts will include Kirsty Young, JJ Chalmers, Huw Edwards, Sophie Raworth, Clare Balding, and Anita Rani. Their coverage is expected to be broadcast from multiple locations, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and parade spots in between. ITV’s coverage will be broadcast live from Canada Gate, London, hosted by Tom Bradby and Julie Etchingham.
The BBC will almost certainly also stream the event live on YouTube as it did the funeral, with TV license fees expected to be either waved or given out at a special one-day price. The day will conclude with evening recaps showing the highlights of the day. The BBC recap is expected to run 90 minutes, while ITV’s will run 60.
On Sunday, ahead of the highly-anticipated Coronation Concert, the BBC will continue with special editions of its usual shows, including Songs Of Praise, Antiques Roadshow, and Coronation Kitchen.
How Americans Can Watch King Charles III's Coronation
In the U.S., PBS will be covering all of the Coronation’s events from the morning of the event through Sunday's Coronation Concert. Most public broadcast stations will carry the live, uninterrupted, commercial-free BBC live feed of The Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla from start to finish, beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET/11:30 p.m. PT, and ending at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT. The coronation will then re-air on PBS World channels starting at 11 a.m. ET for those who get up at a reasonable time on Saturdays, history or no.
Most PBS stations will also carry the BBC's primetime 90-minute recap, The Coronation: A Day to Remember, that evening at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the documentary Charles R: The Making of a Monarch at 8 p.m. ET. On Sunday, May 7, PBS will be the exclusive home of the BBC's Coronation Concert, as well as a special dedicated to the Coronation choir, Sing for the King. As always, check your local listings.
Meanwhile, BritBox remains the online-only home of Royal streaming. This is the best way to watch for cord-cutters, with coverage directly from ITV News in the U.K. (BritBox is owned jointly by ITV and BBC in the U.S. but wholly owned by ITV in the U.K.) The streaming service’s coverage will begin with a series of specials that will be available to stream ahead of the event, including Countdown to the Crown: The Who’s Who and What’s What of the Coronation, ITV’s Good Morning Britain Coronation coverage and ITV’s This Morning special programming, filmed on the Coronation Street set. For EastEnders fans, BritBox remains the home of the beloved soap and will have the series’ special Coronation episode.
The ITV live stream of The Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla will be broadcast from and, like the BBC feed, is expected to start at 2:30 a.m. ET/11:30 p.m. PT and run seven hours. It will be followed directly by ITV’s one-hour recap special, which will be on demand. BritBox will also have several Royal-focused documentaries, including Charles: The Monarch and the Man and The Monarchy, and the premiere of Arthur: A Life with the Royal Family, centered on former Royal photographer Arthur Edwards.
CNN, MSNBC, and other rolling news channels are also expected to cover the proceedings on and off, from Friday’s arrivals through the coronation itself. BBC America will air the ceremony portion of The Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla, but not the build-up, starting at 6 a.m. ET. It will also carry Charles R: The Making Of A Monarch and the King’s Coronation Highlights on both BBCA and AMC+. A few other American streamers will also have nods to Coronation Weekend with specials and documentaries. Paramount+ has announced King Charles, The Boy Who Walked Alone, is set to stream on its service starting May 2. Disney+ will premiere NatGeo’s Charles: In His Own Words on May 5.
What Can Viewers Expect To See At The Coronation?
In a statement about the upcoming coronation, it will be “a solemn religious service, as well as an occasion for celebration and pageantry.” It will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, “reflect[ing] the Monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.” Despite speculation, Charles was not planning nearly as lavish a ceremony as his mother’s back in the 1950s; it seems his coronation will run the full three hours that hers did in the 1950s.
As Elizabeth’s was the first-ever broadcast, there was no actual debate about the details, as simply putting the cameras in the room in the first place was controversial enough. There was no thought of cutting down the three-hour ceremony or cutting back on the pomp and circumstance. Even though 70 years on, cameras are a fact of life, the length of time since the last one has the Palace doing the whole ceremony for a new generation, ratings be damned.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:
- The Recognition: The Archbishop of Canterbury will present Charles in the Abbey. The congregation will shout, “God Save the King!” as trumpets sound.
- The Oath: Charles will swear to uphold the law and the Church of England as its new head. The King then takes off the Ceremonial Robe before sitting in the Coronation Chair.
- The Anointing: In Elizabeth’s day, the next stage was a compromise, as she felt the “anointing by God” portion would be somehow cheapened or its mysticism ruined by being broadcast. A gold cloth was held over the chair to conceal the monarch as the Archbishop of Canterbury anointed her hands, breast, and head with holy oil made according to a secret recipe but known to contain ambergris, orange flowers, roses, jasmine, and cinnamon. It is expected that the gold cloth will be held up again for Charles’ ceremony, but it has been announced that the oil created for Charles will not contain any animal ingredients.
- The Investiture: Charles will be handed the Sceptre, the Royal Orb, and the Sovereign’s Sceptre (a rod of gold topped with a white enameled dove), and then the Archbishop will crown him with the same one worn by St Edward. These items represent his power, religious and moral authority, justice, and mercy.
- The Enthronement: The King moves from the Coronation Chair to the Throne.
- The Homage: Traditionally, this is where The Peers of the Realm in attendance kneel before the monarch to pay homage. In an updated variation of this, the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced that the people across the world watching at home who so desire will be able to cry out in support. The Archbishop of Canterbury will proclaim, “God save the King,” with all asked to respond: “God save King Charles. Long live King Charles. May the King live forever.”
Queen Camilla will then follow the same procedure and be anointed and crowned.
Who Will Perform At The Coronation?
The ceremony features 12 newly-commissioned pieces of music, including an anthem from composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Palace has also confirmed part of the service will be sung in Welsh, with soloists such as world-famous Welsh opera singer Sir Bryn Terfel. The ceremony will also include Greek Orthodox music as a tribute to Prince Philip in recognition of Charles' Greek heritage. There will also be a boy's choir from Westminster School and a gospel choir. No other performers are confirmed as yet.
Who Will Attend The Coronation?
Attendees will begin with the Royal Family, starting with the House of Windsor. Charles's older sister, Princess Anne, is confirmed, as are the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate, and their children, George, Charlotte, and Louis. (Prince George will be a page of honor at the coronation.) Also of note: Harry, Duke of Sussex, has confirmed his attendance, but Meghan, Prince Archie, and Princess Lilibet will not attend. Camilla's family is also attending, including the ex-husband she divorced for Charles, Andrew Parker-Bowles. Her kids, Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Lopes, are expected, as are her sister, Annabel Elliot, and her children. Three of her grandsons and one of her grand-nephews will serve as pages of honor.
The last time there was a coronation, it was not typical for other Royal Families to attend, but in this day and age, where so few are left, their support is vital. Some of those expected to show include Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, Monaco; Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, Japan; Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, Denmark; King Carl XVI Gustav and Crown Princess Victoria, Sweden; King Felipe and Queen Letizia, Spain; Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Norway; Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Luxembourg; Queen Anne-Marie and Crown Prince Pavlos, Greece; King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, the Netherlands; King Tuheitia and Makau Ariki Atawhai, Māori royals; King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, Belgium; King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, Bhutan; King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida, Thailand; and King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau'u, Tonga.
The current Prime Minister and his wife, Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murthy, will be on hand, along with several peers and Parliament heads. All the living ex-Prime Ministers will attend (yes, Liz Truss too!), including Boris Johnson, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and John Major.
The complete list of heads of state attending King Charles III's coronation includes a lot of European leaders, like French President Emmanuel Macron, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Irish President Michael Higgins, President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen, EU Council President Charles Michel, President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, and Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Amina Jane Mohammed. Many commonwealth nations will also represent, including Canada's Justin Trudeau, New Zealand's Chris Hipkins, and Australia's Anthony Albanese. As noted previously, one Irishman won't be there: President Joe Biden will not be in attendance; First Lady Jill Biden will lead the U.S. delegation.
Where Americans Can Watch The Coronation Concert
The Coronation Concert, broadcast live on Sunday, May 7, 2023, from Windsor Castle’s East Lawn, will be carried by PBS in the states. The concert will be preceded by Sing for the King, a documentary covering the formation of the concert’s Coronation Choir, a 300-strong body that will include singing groups ranging from London Cabbies, an all-deaf sign performance group, a Northern Irish farming community, and an LGBTQ+ choir; to a Gaelic choir hailing from the Western Isles of Scotland, Hull’s NHS choir, a traditional male voice choir from Caerphilly and a refugee choir, also from Wales. Sing for the King airs beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
The concert itself starts at 3 p.m. ET. Unlike The Queen’s Jubilee Concert was carried in truncated format on ABC and Hulu in June 2022, PBS will carry the concert in full. The BBC has confirmed Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) will host the show, and Kirsty Young will anchor the special live broadcast from the grounds of Windsor Castle. Take That will perform, as will singer/songwriter Freya Ridings, who will duet with classical composer, producer, and pianist Alexis Ffrench. Lionel Richie and Katy Perry will perform, and Nat Geo’s TV host Bear Grylls and Strictly Come Dancing professional Oti Mabuse will be on hand.
Also, The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera, the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal College of Music, and The Royal College of Art will collaborate on a Shakespearean piece starring Doctor Who’s Ncuti Gatwa and Call The Midwife’s Mei Mac. Tom Cruise, Tom Jones, and Joan Collins will appear in pre-recorded messages. Other acts announced as the concert finalized include Paloma Faith, Olly Murs, Steve Winwood, Nicole Scherzinger, Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Nigerian singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage, DJ Pete Tong, and the teenage winner of The Piano TV talent show, Lucy, all will perform.
Sir Bryn Terfel will pull double duty, performing at the coronation and the concert with Andrea Bocelli as his duet partner. A 74-piece world-class classical orchestra will provide classical music, including the strings of the Countess of Wessex String Orchestra and woodwind, brass, and percussion sections from the Bands of the Household Division. Also, it has been confirmed Paddington Bear and his sandwiches will be too busy prepping for Paddington 3: Paddington In Peru and will be replaced with an appearance by Winnie the Pooh, though whether or not it’s the AA Milne version of the silly old bear or the Disney one remains to be seen.
This post will be updated with more details as they come in. King Charles III’s Coronation Weekend runs from Saturday, May 6, through Monday, May 8, 2023.