London, May 5 (BNA): King Charles welcomed throngs of enthusiastic crowds for his historic coronation this weekend as world leaders gathered on Friday for the biggest ceremonial event to be staged in Britain for 70 years.
Reuters reported that Charles, 74, and his wife, Camilla, will be crowned in London’s Westminster Abbey in a sparkling but solemn religious ceremony with traditions dating back nearly a thousand years, followed by a procession sparkling with joy and processions.
Royal fans have already begun camping out on The Mall, the grand avenue that leads to Buckingham Palace, and they were rewarded when Charles, his eldest son, Prince William, and crown wife Kate took an impromptu tour.
The royal family was greeted with cheers of “Hip, hip, hurray!” and “God Save the King”. They also received well-wishers, many of whom traveled from all over the world.
“Not much sleep, I hear,” William told one of the women in the crowd, referring to the people staying in tents who created a festive atmosphere despite the occasional downpour. “I pray you guys stay dry.”
Earlier, Charles has met leaders of the Commonwealth of Nations, voluntary unions from the 56 countries he also chairs, and hosted lunches for prime ministers and representatives of the royal family from 14 other countries where he heads, including Australia and Canada.
Charles automatically became king when his mother, Queen Elizabeth, died at the age of 96 in September. Although the coronation is not necessary, it is seen as a very symbolic moment that legitimizes the monarch in a public way.
The leaders of Australia and New Zealand will pledge allegiance to Charles at coronation even though both are lifelong Republicans who are not shy about making their positions clear.
On Friday evening, the monarch and senior members of the royal family will host a reception at Buckingham Palace for world leaders and dignitaries who have traveled to the British capital ahead of Saturday’s event.
“It is an honor to represent the United States at this historic moment and to celebrate the special relationship between our two countries,” US First Lady Jill Biden said on Twitter.
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Across Britain, preparations are underway for the first coronation since 1953, when Queen Elizabeth was crowned. The King has even run advertisements for the London Underground network, using the traditional “mind gap” warning to use caution when boarding and exiting tube trains.
Against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, some public skepticism and in modern times when questions are being asked about the institution’s future, role and finances, Saturday’s event will be on a smaller scale than the 1953 coronation.
However it would be a generous occasion. St Edward’s Crown, which weighs about 2.2 kilograms (4 pounds 12 ounces) and dates from 1661 and the reign of King Charles II’s namesake, will be placed on Charles’ head during the ceremony.
Other historic items involved include the Sovereign’s golden sceptre with cross holding the 1-carat 530-carat Cullinan diamond, also known as the Star of Africa and the largest colorless cut diamond in the world.
After the ceremony, there will be a mile-long parade involving some 4,000 military personnel, with the newly crowned King Charles III and Queen Camilla returning to Buckingham Palace aboard the four-ton Gold State coach, pulled by eight horses.
Thousands are expected to line the route and millions more will be watching on giant screens set up in 30 locations across Britain or at home, with the event being broadcast live across the world.
Retailers are hoping to get a boost from three days of festivities and street parties, as the public enjoys an extra break on Monday. Buckingham Palace has said it expects it to provide an economic boost to Britain’s ailing economy.
Supermarket Liddell said it had sold enough bunting to line the parade route 75 times, and Tesco said it expected to sell enough bunting to stretch from Land’s End in southwest England to the tip of Scotland. Sainsbury’s said its sparkling wine sales were up 128% year-on-year.
But polls indicate that far from everyone will celebrate with the majority of the public generally indifferent to the event. Critics have questioned the cost at a time when many people are struggling to pay the bills.
“They take everything from me. They don’t do a day’s work,” said Philip Nash, 68, as he swept the streets in Whitechapel, a more knee-jerk area of east London.