There has been a last minute change to the service of the coronation for King Charles III.
The controversial “Homage of the People” element of the service has been toned down. Charles reportedly approved the change which came after a string of commentators criticised the new addition as divisive.
Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, a friend of Charles who wrote the King’s authorised biography, said the monarch would find the Homage of the People “abhorrent”. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will now “invite” a show of support from the congregation rather than a “call” to those in the Abbey and elsewhere to swear allegiance to the King.
Build up to the big day has already begun with workers sweeping sand onto roads, police officers arriving and a rain shelter is being set up outside the Abbey entrance. Metropolitan police and military police officers patrolled the route from Victoria to Westminster from the early hours on Saturday.
Royal fans with Union flags and crowns could be seen on trains and in Tube stations from just after 4.30am. The King will be crowned at Westminster Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury during a coronation ceremony dating back centuries.
Cries of “God Save the King” will ring out around the abbey after St Edward’s Crown is placed on Charles’ head by Mr Welby. The senior cleric said in a statement issued on the eve of the coronation that the ceremony served as “a powerful reflection and celebration of who we are today, in all our wonderful diversity”.
He said people will be struck by the “majesty and sacred wonder” of the service, but also hoped they would find “ancient wisdom and new hope”. The event will bring together around 100 heads of state, kings and queens from across the globe, celebrities, everyday heroes and family and friends of the couple, with Charles’ estranged son the Duke of Sussex expected to attend.
Invited guests include David and Victoria Beckham, musician Lionel Richie, French President Emmanuel Macron, King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US First Lady Jill Biden but her husband President Joe Biden will not be attending.
The day will be a display of pomp and pageantry, with the nation’s Armed Forces promising a “spectacular” event when the King and Queen process through the streets of the capital. The event is the military’s largest ceremonial operation since Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation, with 9,000 servicemen and women deployed and 7,000 of these performing ceremonial and supporting roles.