Charles III

King Charles III succeeded to the throne on the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8th September 2022.

His life

The King was born at Buckingham Palace on 14th November 1948 and given the names Charles Philip Arthur George. He was the first child of Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His sister is The Princess Royal, and his brothers are the Duke of York and Edward, Duke of Edinburgh.

On the accession of his mother to the throne in February 1952 the young Prince Charles automatically became Duke of Cornwall and received various Scottish titles. He attended his mother's coronation on 2nd June 1953 and was created Prince of Wales on 26 July 1958, although his investiture did not take place until 1st July 1969 at Caernarfon Castle.

The King was educated at schools in London and Hampshire, and later at Gordonstoun in Scotland. He went on to Trinity College, Cambridge (studying archaeology, anthropology and history) and in 1971 joined the Royal Air Force, qualifying as a jet pilot. In the same year he enrolled at Britannia Royal Naval College in Devon. He served in several ships in the Royal Navy and took command of HMS Bronington in 1975.

On 29th July 1981 The King married Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral. They had two children: Prince William, now Prince of Wales, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. The couple later divorced.

The Prince was Great Master of the Honourable Order of the Bath from 1975 until his accession. He served as Patron for the appeal to create The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey where he laid the foundation stone for the Weston Tower (access lift and stairs) in 2016.

Queen Camilla 

On 9 April 2005 The King married Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles, who became The Queen Consort, in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall in Windsor followed by a service in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. She was born in London on 17 July 1947 and was previously married to Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles.


King Charles III was crowned on 6th May 2023 and was the 40th reigning monarch to be crowned in the Abbey. He is also the oldest British monarch to be crowned.


The music began at 9.00am and the King and Queen entered at 11.00am to "I was glad" by Sir Hubert Parry. The Vivats, (God save the King and Queen), were sung by the King's Scholars of Westminster School, standing in the triforium above the Quire (for the first time female scholars took part). Over 2,000 people attended (much less than the 8,000 at the 1953 ceremony when extra tiered seating was built). Twelve new musical compositions by British composers were commissioned and Andrew Nethsingha, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, oversaw the musical details. The Abbey choir was joined by that of the Chapel Royal and some representatives of UK choirs. The Coronation orchestra was conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera House. Greek Orthodox music was performed by the Byzantine Choir Ensemble (the Greek music was a tribute to the late Duke of Edinburgh, the King's father, who was also a Prince of Greece). The traditional anthem "Zadok the Priest", with music by Handel, was sung during the Anointing.

The Ceremony

The ceremony consisted of the Recognition, the Oath, the Anointing, the Investiture and Crowning, the Enthronement, and the Homage. The service was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who also gave a short sermon, assisted by the Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, with the Bishop of Durham and the Bishop of Bath and Wells assisting the King. For the solemn act of Anointing the King sat in the ancient Coronation Chair, placed on the central onyx roundel of the 13th century Cosmati pavement. He was surrounded on three sides by an embroidered screen, designed by Aiden Hart and made by the Royal School of Needlework. The cloth is made of wool from New Zealand and Australia, woven in the UK. This depicts a tree with 56 leaves, representing the nations of the Commonwealth (which are all named on it). Birds and the dove of Peace with angels are also shown, with crosses on the sides. At the base is a scroll with a quote from the writings of Julian of Norwich "All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well".

For the first time in British history the coronation oil was blessed outside the UK. It was consecrated in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (where the King's grandmother, Princess Alice, is buried on the Mount of Olives). It was blended from olives picked there, with herbs and flowers including jasmine and orange blossom. The oil is poured out of the golden eagle-shaped Ampulla into the Coronation Spoon (the most ancient item remaining in the Coronation Regalia).

The King was crowned in the Coronation Chair at noon with St Edward's Crown, dating from 1661 (the earlier Regalia having been destroyed by Oliver Cromwell). The Stone of Scone had been returned from Scotland at the end of April in order to be placed under the seat of the Chair.

The Queen was later anointed and crowned with Queen Mary's crown, used at the 1911 coronation, sitting in her Chair of Estate. They proceeded to the Thrones set out in the Lantern and the Prince of Wales did homage to his father. After receiving Holy Communion the King and Queen withdrew behind the High Altar screen into St Edward the Confessor's chapel to change into their Robes of Estate. The King exchanged the heavy St Edward's Crown for the lighter Imperial State Crown for the procession back to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach. The event was watched by 100 million viewers worldwide.

The Abbey was opened the week after the ceremony for visitors to view the Coronation setting and the anointing screen was also displayed then.

Vestments, Robes and Chairs

The Queen's dress was designed by Bruce Oldfield and the fabric was woven by Stephen Walters in Suffolk. It was white with gold embroidery which included her cypher, small dogs and flowers, reflecting her personal interests.

Vestments and robes from previous coronations, back to that of George IV in 1821, were re-used in the interest of sustainability. The Imperial Mantle of 1821 was the oldest royal vestment used. The gold sleeved robe called the Supertunica has been used at coronations since 1911. The two Robes used by the King were those used in 1937 at George VI's coronation. A new embroidered Robe of Estate for the Queen was specially made. The Dean of Westminster wore the red velvet cope used at Charles II's coronation in 1661 (this is on display in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries at the Abbey).

The Chairs of Estate, set on the south side of the Sacrarium, were those used in 1953 with new upholstery. The Throne Chairs, set in the raised Lantern area, were from 1937, re-upholstered in crimson velvet. Both sets of chairs were made by White, Allom & Co. 

A hundred new oak framed chairs for use by the Royal Family and dignitaries in the lantern and transept were designed by N.F.J. Stevenson and covered with blue velvet. They feature the two Royal cyphers. These were auctioned for charity after the event.

A royal blue carpet was laid in the Quire and transepts with a gold carpet in the Theatre area where the Thrones were placed.

The Princess of Wales wore the dark blue and scarlet silk mantle of a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, over her ivory gown. Her hair piece was a silver and crystal leaf design. The Prince of Wales wore the darker blue mantle of the Order of the Garter. He did Homage to his father during the Enthronement.


The flower arrangements, some of which were placed on the top of the High Altar screen, included hellebores, jasmine, tulips, honeysuckle and aquilegia. Over 120 varieties of flowers had been grown all over the UK and the arrangements were designed by Shane Connolly & Co. At the great west door were a pair of yew tree topiaries. The Queen's bouquet (not carried in procession) was composed of lily of the valley, auriculas, jasmine and wallflowers. This was later laid on the grave of the Unknown Warrior in the Abbey nave.

Further reading

Order of Service for the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla (PDF, 1.25MB)

HM The King's Commonwealth Day message 2023 (PDF, 80KB)

About Coronations at the Abbey

Queens Consort of Westminster Abbey

A commemorative Coronation Bible, in red leather, was printed and can be obtained from Cambridge Bibles.

"The coronation in retrospect" and "Music fit for a King" - articles in the Westminster Abbey Review no.15 Winter 2023.



14th November 1948


6th May 2023

King Charles III leaves the Abbey wearing St Edward's Crown and holding the Orb and Sceptre.
King Charles III after his coronation

© Picture Association

King Charles and the Queen arriving at a recent Abbey service
King Charles and the Queen consort at a recent Abbey service

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

The Coronation Chair and Chairs of Estate set out for the coronation of Charles III.
Coronation setting after the ceremony

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

The embroidered Anointing Screen used at the coronation of Charles II showing a tree with leaves naming all the Commonwealth nations, with angels above
Anointing screen on temporary display

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster