King Charles III’s desire for a more modern, slimmed-down monarchy has long been discussed, and his Coronation is the first major indicator of how the Sovereign intends to incorporate the institution’s ancient traditions into the 21st century.
Although King Charles’s Coronation saw the carrying out of the same traditional rituals as previous coronations, subtle changes were made to reflect contemporary society.
While Queen Elizabeth II was also crowned at Westminster Abbey, with the same crown and surrounded by the familiar pomp and circumstance, Charles’s crowning ceremony stood in contrast to that of his mother.
The late Queen was crowned in June 1953 and her Coronation has been described as the last “imperial hurrah”: it was attended by over 8,000 people — a huge portion of which were Peers and Peeresses — lasted almost three hours. Meanwhile, Charles’s Coronation was a shorter and smaller service, emphasising the diverse country the UK has become and highlighting the importance of the Commonwealth.
Here, Express.co.uk compares the two Coronations — which took place almost 70 years apart — looking at the photographs from both historic occasions.
Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in June 1953
King Charles III was crowned on May 6, 2023
How much the Coronation cost – and who’s footing the bill
King Charles may be cutting back his big day in comparison to that of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II. But with 2,000 guests invited to Westminster Abbey, two processions in a golden carriage, and countless other expenses needed for security and more, the cost is expected to be sky-high.
Express analyses just how much the Coronation will cost, and who is paying the bill.
In 1953, Queen Elizabeth arrived at Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach, which has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since William IV.
Recalling the day, Her Majesty described the ride in the 18th-Century coach as “horrible” and “not very comfortable”.
William IV, crowned in 1831, compared his trip in the carriage to being on a ship “in a rough sea”.
On Saturday, King Charles and Queen Camilla travelled in the newer Diamond Jubilee State Coach, known to be a more comfortable — relatively modern — horse-drawn carriage.
The coach was built for the late Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee, with its modern touches including air conditioning and electric windows.
While Charles and Camilla arrived at the Abbey in the more comfortable coach, they departed in the carriage that was used in the Coronation of both his mother and his grandfather King George VI.
However, their procession route was shorter than that of Queen Elizabeth; the King and Queen Consort covered 1.3 miles after leaving the Abbey for Buckingham Palace, considerably less than the late monarch’s five-mile procession across central London.
Queen Elizabeth II arrived in the Gold State Coach
Charles and Camilla arrived at the Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach
When she walked into the Abbey, a 27-year-old Queen Elizabeth was flanked by six maids of honour, all of whom were tasked with holding her 20-foot train.
The six women, chosen because of their “decorative” beauty and family heritage, donned glittering white gowns and golden tiaras.
They were the monarch’s Maids of Honour. They were the first to see the monarch when she arrived at the Abbey, they stood alongside her throughout the Coronation ceremony (becoming part of the few who witnessed the sacred Act of Consecration) and they appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony to greet the crowds who had gathered to celebrate the new Elizabethan era.
Rather than Maids of Honour, both Charles and Camilla were attended to by Pages of Honour — eight boys who were tasked with carrying the King and Queen Consort’s robes.
Prince George, the King’s eldest grandson, was the youngest of the Pages and will make history as the youngest heir to take part in a Coronation.
The eight Pages also included the grandsons of Queen Camilla — Freddy Parker Bowles, 13, and Gus and Louis Lopes, 13 — demonstrating the royal couple’s desire to put the focus on their blended family.
Six maids of honour flanked the Queen in 1953
Both Charles and Camilla were followed by their four Pages of Honour
The most sacred part of the entire Coronation ceremony is the anointing with holy oil, which sees the Archbishop of Canterbury apply the oil to the head, hands and breast of the Sovereign.
Unlike his late mother’s 1953 Coronation, Charles will be anointed out of sight, enclosed behind a three-sided screen, rather than just a canopy.
The embroidered anointing screen is Commonwealth-themed and has been created by a team of more than 150 people over the past few months.
Nick Gutfreund, who led the project to build the screen, said: “The screen is there to actually provide privacy to the most sacred part of the ceremony. And previously it was a canopy over the top, which actually didn’t provide real privacy. It was more figurative. Now this three-side screen provides absolute privacy during the process.”
Also marking a break in tradition, Camilla will be in full public view when she is anointed with the holy oil.
When a Queen Consort was last crowned, in 1937 at the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother, she was hidden under a canopy during the sacred moment.
Queen Elizabeth II was anointed with holy oil underneath a gold canopy
Charles was anointed behind a specially-made screen
Role of royal dukes
Send your good wishes for King Charles III with our Coronation cheer map
The nation is united for King Charles III’s coronation – the first one in the UK for more than 70 years.
Our interactive cheer map lets you send your Coronation Day good wishes for King Charles III with a few clicks of a button.
Only Prince William knelt before the monarch and pledge allegiance to the King during the ceremony, standing in contrast to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth, which saw all the royal dukes and senior peers pay their personal homage.
Prince Philip, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, all knelt before the young Queen and swore their allegiance. They were followed by the Peers of the realm, one for each rank: Norfolk for dukes, Huntly for marquesses, Shrewsbury for earls, Arbuthnott for viscounts and Mowbray for barons.
Charles’s break in tradition meant Prince Harry, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and the Duke of Kent were excluded from the ancient ritual.
William swore to “become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks. So help me God’”.
Philip pledged allegiance to his wife at her 1953 Coronation
Prince William pledged allegiance to his father
In 1953, the Queen’s closest family members were positioned in the Royal Box, watching on as the monarch was officially crowned.
Her younger sister Princess Margaret and eldest son then-four-year-old Prince Charles sat in the front row, honoured with one of the best views in the Abbey.
However, at the Coronation of King Charles III, his younger brother Prince Andrew and youngest son Prince Harry were relegated to the third row, sitting next to the monarch’s nieces Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
The front row was made up of the Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh.
Prince Louis, five, sat between his mother Princess Kate and sister Princess Charlotte, eight. Having celebrated his fifth birthday less than a month ago, he is just a few months older than Charles was when he attended his mother’s Coronation.
Young Charles was positioned between the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret
The Waleses were seated on the front row, while Harry sat three rows back
Camilla vs Philip
Queen Camilla was crowned alongside the King at the first Coronation in 70 years. Her crowning moment saw Queen Mary’s Crown being placed on her anointed head by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
It has been almost 90 years since Britain’s last Queen Consort — Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother — was crowned in May 1937.
When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, her husband Prince Philip was not, in keeping with a long-held custom that dictates Prince Consorts are not crowned alongside their wives.
Moreover, at the time of the historic ceremony, Philip was not even an official Prince of the United Kingdom. He was styled as the Duke of Edinburgh, having been created as such upon his and Elizabeth’s wedding in 1947.
As a royal duke, he knelt before his newly-crowned wife and pledged to “become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks. So help me God’”.
It wasn’t until 1957 that Queen Elizabeth made her husband a Prince, announcing in February of that year a Letters Patent had been issued to “give and grant unto His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., G.B.E., the style and titular dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.
Despite becoming the longest-serving Consort in British royal history, and the husband of the country’s longest-reigning Queen, Philip never wore a crown.
Philip did not wear a crown alongside his wife
Queen Camilla was crowned alongside her husband
The Queen appeared on the balcony after her Coronation ceremony
The balcony was packed in 1953
Bringing the celebrations to a close, the newly-crowned King and Queen appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
In spite of claims of focus being put on a slimmed-down monarchy, the balcony appeared packed out with royals – much like the same scene in June 1953.
Prince William, Kate and their three children stood alongside the couple, as did Princess Anne and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence, Prince Edward and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, the Duke of Kent, along with Princess Alexandra and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
Lady Louise Windsor and James, Earl of Wessex, the children of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, were also there. Charles and Camilla were joined by their Pages of Honour.
However, non-working members of the family, including Anne’s children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall and the York sisters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, as well as their respective families, did not make an appearance.
In 1953, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh stood alongside the monarch’s Maids of Honour and several members of the Firm.
In spite of claims of a slimmed-down monarchy going forward the balcony appeared packed out with royals, including those who served as Pages of Honour during the ceremony.
Charles and Camilla were joined by their Pages
Members of the Royal Family also appeared for the iconic scene