King Charles III is being formally crowned the monarch of the United Kingdom during an elaborate ceremony in London Saturday, the first British coronation since 1953.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And thank you for joining us on this day in which King Charles III has been crowned at Westminster Abbey, mostly in accord with rituals a thousand years old. But his parade route was shorter compared to his mother’s coronation in 1953, and there was official acknowledgement of other faiths besides that of the Church of England, which the king heads. And there was a role for the public at large, not just people with titles. NPR’s Lauren Frayer joins us now from near Buckingham Palace.
Lauren, thanks for being with us. Tell us what it’s like today in London.
LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: It’s very rainy today in London, Scott. But this ceremony ended in the early afternoon here with a wave from the king and queen from their balcony at Buckingham Palace. There was a military flyover that was scaled back because of the poor weather. King Charles wore this fur-trimmed cape. He has this big purple velvet crown. I mean, it looks like the absolute stereotypical fairy tale. The king looked very solemn. He closed his eyes at times during the ceremony. There were no smiles until he reached that balcony and gave the wave. It was altogether a pretty serious event.
There was a procession to and from Buckingham Palace in two different golden horse-drawn carriages. The king and now-Queen Camilla paraded into Westminster Abbey. The king was presented with a golden orb and swords, even spurs like you used for a horse. This regalia dates back to the knights-in-shining-armor era. He was anointed behind a canopy. That part of the ceremony was secret. It was the only part that wasn’t televised in big screens across London for the public. And then, Scott, the music.
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CORONATION CHOIR: (Singing) God save the king. God save the king.
FRAYER: These otherworldly boys’ soprano voices echoing through Westminster Abbey. There was Greek Byzantine music in a nod to the king’s late father, Prince Philip, and a coronation theme song composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
SIMON: What’s it like where you are right now, just outside the palace?
FRAYER: There are a lot of very wet flags all over the place. People – you know, the festivities are complete. People are heading to the pub to try to dry out after a very rainy day.
SIMON: No better place than a fire in the pub. Yeah, OK.
FRAYER: That’s right. We met a royal fan named Michaela Hubble (ph). She came running up to these big screens in the park. Too late. She missed it. She and her friend had missed their train in this pouring rain.
MICHAELA HUBBLE: We knew our train was going to be here and we’d miss, so we’ve sort of come for the – obviously to try and get to see something at the – afterwards, but we’ve not given up yet, you know? But we’re still here to support the king.
FRAYER: The ceremony may be over, but there’s a full weekend of festivities, including a coronation concert tomorrow. The forecast is looking better for that. And it’s a bank holiday weekend, a week – rather a day off work Monday for lots of folks here. But, you know, I have to say, not everyone…
FRAYER: …Is celebrating this.
SIMON: There have been some arrests and disruptions, right?
FRAYER: Yeah. So I was actually interviewing royal fans near the palace earlier when I got interrupted by protesters. And here’s what it sounded like.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTORS: You should stop the coronation. Stop the coronation. Stop the coronation.
FRAYER: So the protesters also have been undaunted by the rain. There were several arrests, including the head of the biggest anti-monarchy group in the U.K. called Republic. Here’s the thing. This coronation is costing taxpayers around $125 million.
MARY ROOKS: ‘Cause it’s a terrible waste of money, and it’s a stupid way to run a country.
FRAYER: That’s Mary Rooks (ph), a retired medical worker. She was dressed in a yellow abolish the monarchy T-shirt.
ROOKS: It’s not just Charles. I mean, all his relatives – they all have palaces.
FRAYER: So this coronation also comes at a time of waning support for the monarchy. And that’s going to be a challenge going forward.
SIMON: Lauren Frayer in London.
Thanks so much.
FRAYER: You’re welcome.
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