The coronation of King Charles III will take place at Westminster Abbey in London on May 6, 2023, the same date as his youngest grandson’s birthday, it has been announced.
Buckingham Palace has released details of the new monarch’s coronation amid growing speculation in Britain over whether it will take the form of a scaled-down ceremony, compared to that of Queen Elizabeth II who will was held seven decades ago in 1953.
“Buckingham Palace is pleased to announce that the Coronation of His Majesty the King will take place on Saturday 6th May 2023,” the statement read. “The coronation ceremony will take place at Westminster Abbey, London, and will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
The palace has also confirmed that Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles’s wife of 17 years, will be “crowned” as queen consort during the service.
As for concessions or adaptations to the ancient ceremony, which has been slightly modified from the form followed by these later Anglo-Saxon kings, a line of context has been included in the announcement of the coronation. “The coronation will reflect the role of the monarch today,” he said, “and look to the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.”
One detail likely to provoke some criticism is the decision to hold the event on what will be the fourth birthday of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
As senior royals, Harry (the monarch’s son being crowned) and Meghan are expected to attend the coronation, although their children may be too young to accompany them.
In 1953, 2-year-old Princess Anne was left behind at Buckingham Palace for her mother’s coronation, and 4-year-old Charles only attended the Westminster Abbey ceremony for a brief section. This was done, in part, because the Queen’s coronation lasted nearly three hours. The King Charles ceremony should be shorter.
Charles’ relationship with his youngest grandchildren has come under scrutiny ever since Harry and Meghan moved to the United States in 2020, where they chose to raise their family and where their daughter was born.
In June, Charles met his granddaughter Lilibet, Harry and Meghan’s daughter, for the first time in person at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Until that event, he apparently hadn’t seen Archie in person since the winter of 2019, when Harry and Meghan spent the holidays in Canada before negotiating their exit from royal life.
A key issue Charles has opened up to criticism since becoming king is his apparent delay in announcing whether Harry and Meghan’s children will become prince and princess.
In accordance with a convention initiated by King George V, who died in 1936, the monarch’s grandchildren through the male line are entitled to bear the titles of HRH (His Royal Highness) and Prince or Princess of the United Kingdom.
When Archie was born in 2019, he was known as Master Archie because at the time he was the great-grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. Now that Charles is king, Archie is now the monarch’s grandson and eligible for the title of prince.
In her 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan opened up about how Archie didn’t become a prince when he was born. She cited the royal convention but also said that in conversations about the decision, her potential skin color was brought up by an unnamed member of the royal family.
Asked by Winfrey if she believed one of the reasons Archie didn’t become a prince was his race, Meghan replied: “I can give you an honest answer. During those months I was pregnant, at around the same time … having us in tandem the conversation of ‘he won’t get security, he won’t get a title’, and also worries and conversations about how dark his skin was when he was born.”
Since that interview aired, the monarchy’s response to the racism allegations has been closely watched. Following the interview, Buckingham Palace released a statement on behalf of the Queen.
“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning,” he said in part. “While some memories may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed privately by the family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”
King Charles reiterated that sentiment about his son and daughter-in-law in his first address to the nation as monarch. Speaking from Buckingham Palace the day after Queen Elizabeth died, he said: “I also want to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
It is not known if the new king will decide to give his grandchildren titles in line with those already held by their cousins, the children of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Who exactly will be present at the coronation ceremony has not yet been revealed. Buckingham Palace said “further details will be announced in due course”.