Ana Cuenca | AFP
Charles III will be officially crowned in London in two weeks, in a ceremony steeped in tradition but one that the British king wants simpler and more modern than that of Elizabeth II 70 years ago. And that he arouses much less interest.
His coronation, on May 6 at Westminster Abbey before 2,000 guests, including heads of state, crowned heads and members of civil society, will take place eight months after he came to the throne on the death of his mother, who reigned for seven decades.
The coronation of the very young Elizabeth II in 1953 had 8,000 guests, an 18th century carriage and lasted three hours.
That of Carlos III, a monarch both new and old, who at 74 years old had been replacing his mother for a long time, will be limited to just over an hour and will have modern elements such as an air-conditioned carriage and a vegan oil painting.
But if the coronation of Elizabeth II was followed on the BBC by 27 of the then 36 million Britons, now 64% say they are not interested, according to a YouGov survey.
In a United Kingdom in the midst of a crisis, with inflation that does not fall below 10%, another survey showed that for 51% of Britons the ceremony should not be paid for with public money.
There will be “no extravagance or excess”, promised Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden. But “it’s a wonderful time in our history and people wouldn’t want to see us scrimp,” he added.
Carlos III, whose role is merely ceremonial and without political power, comes to the throne in a United Kingdom faced with multiple challenges.
These include secessionist aspirations in two of its nations – Scotland and Northern Ireland – and the review of the colonial and slave-owning past, which even led the new king to support an investigation into the role of the monarchy in the slave trade.
In this context, the anti-monarchist group Republic is planning a protest in central London on coronation day.
“The coronation is the celebration of hereditary power and privileges, it has no place in a modern society,” said its president, Graham Smith.
Seeking to encourage public enthusiasm, the royal family multiplied the announcements.
A silver cross was made for the occasion from two small fragments of wood donated by Pope Francis, which the Vatican says belonged to the “True Cross” on which Jesus died.
The creation of a crown emoji was announced to accompany messages on Twitter.
And the recipe chosen by Carlos and Camila for the occasion was presented: a vegetarian quiche based on spinach, broad beans and tarragon.
They hope that the British will prepare it for the great neighborhood meals that will take place throughout the country on Sunday the 7th.
That day at night there will also be a concert in front of Windsor Castle, about 40 km west of London. In its poster, headed by the Americans Katy Perry and Lionel Ritchie and the Italian Andrea Bocelli, the absence of British superstars such as Elton John, Adele, Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles stands out.
On Monday the 8th, which will be a holiday, the royal family called on the British to do volunteer work.
But what seems to interest public opinion the most is the presence of Prince Henry among the guests.
After launching harsh criticism of the monarchy in a Netflix documentary and an explosive memoir, the youngest son of Carlos III, 38, will attend the ceremony alone.
His wife Meghan, who even accused an unspecified member of the royal family of racism, will stay with their children in California, where the couple has lived since they resoundingly abandoned the monarchy in 2020.
The coronation itself will begin in the morning with a carriage procession from Buckingham Palace to nearby Westminster Abbey.
There, Carlos III will take the oath before being anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on his hands, head and chest.
Afterwards, you will receive the royal regalia: Edward’s mantle, orb, scepter and crown, from the 17th century, adapted for the occasion.
Camila, 75, whom he married for the second time in 2005, will be crowned with the crown of Queen María, grandmother of Elizabeth II.
A new procession, accompanied by 4,000 soldiers in full dress uniform, will return them to the palace from whose balcony they will greet the crowd and witness an air parade.