account of a historic day under a perfectly British rain, between great spectacle and demonstrators quickly retracted

King Charles III wearing St Edward's crown and Queen Camilla wearing Queen Mary's crown during the coronation, at Westminster Abbey, in London, May 6, 2023.

The music was splendid, the liturgy meticulous, the costumes shimmering, the carriages a little ridiculous and the weather perfectly British, gray and very wet. The coronation of King Charles III, Saturday, May 6 in Westminster Abbey, London, took place as planned, without notable accidents – fall of crown or runaway horse.

The event was historic: it was the first coronation of a British monarch for seventy years, and probably the last for a few years. However, the zeal with which the police arrested peacefully demonstrating Republican activists on the sidelines of the procession somewhat marred the show of national unity that the ceremony was meant to embody.

8 am in the forecourt of Westminster Abbey, the first guests arrive. The women are in hats and flowered dresses, the men in frock coats. The Lords wear their long ceremonial robes, the Scots are in kilts, high socks on their calves. But there are also saris, Muslim veils and dresses of African queens. Actress Emma Thompson stops to greet the police, musician Nick Cave walks along with the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Many take selfies outside the entrance to the imposing Gothic building that has been used for the coronations of British kings since William the Conqueror in 1066.

Boris and Carrie Johnson, Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron, and Justin and Sophie Trudeau arrive at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday May 6, 2023.

Seven former British prime ministers are also in the congregation: Tony Blair discusses with Gordon Brown; Liz Truss and Boris Johnson rush into the Abbey without looking at the cameras. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, makes a more discreet entrance, from the west of the abbey, as do the leaders of the European Union: the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the Council, Charles Michel , and the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola. Brexit may have happened, but Britain’s soft power still seems to work perfectly when it comes to participating in a royal event.

Willingness to open

10:30 a.m., the crowned heads take the stage. Queens and kings of Denmark, Sweden, Spain… Just like many leaders of the Commonwealth, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, the Australian leader, Anthony Albanese. Finally, at the stroke of 11 o’clock, the “diamond jubilee” carriage, three tons of wood and metal gilded with fine gold, unloads its royal cargo while the bells of Westminster Abbey are ringing. .

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