That’s King Charles III to You: Highlights of a Rainy, Reigny Day

Chuck's coronation went off without a hitch—despite crappy weather and "lots of soggy-looking people"—and included Prince William's ceremonial Kiss for Daddy.

That’s King Charles III to You: Highlights of a Rainy, Reigny Day
Photo:Ben Stansall/POOL (AP)

In terms of sheer spectacle, the coronation of King Charles III absolutely delivered. There were men on horseback in literal armor; dozens of ecclesiastical figures in various cloaks, many of them gold; trumpets blaring. And yet, the new king looked positively miserable.

As he recessed—crown firmly affixed to his head, orb and rod in hand—the shadow of a smile appeared, but my god, dude, you got what you’ve been waiting your whole life for. Crack a grin! (Christine Amanpour noted on CNN that the king looked much more relaxed coming out of Westminster Abbey, compared to entering.) Camilla, for her part, seemed unable to suppress her smile for much of the two-hour service, which is the appropriate response, to me—especially after a seedy affair in your early 30s causes as much drama as hers did, and yet you still get to become queen. Brava, Camilla.

Photo:Gareth Fuller/Pool (AP)

By all accounts, the event went off without a hitch despite steady rainfall, though the pledge of allegiance that the public was invited to swear to Charles was scrapped at the last minute following backlash, and shortly before the ceremony, anti-monarchy protesters were arrested in Central London for no reason, activists told CNN. “There are lots of very soggy looking people, and they are waving flags,” an NBC anchor said during the live stream, aptly summing up the affair.

The service itself began after Charles entered Westminster Abbey, his long velvet robe held aloft by four pages, including his grandson, Prince George. Once he was seated and his train arranged correctly, the first person to publicly welcome him into the church was a boy who can’t have been older than 11, which felt like a lot of responsibility to put on one random child. (I assume he’s got aristocratic blood and has been trained for stuff like this since birth, but still!) A series of other declarations proceeded, calling Charles the “undoubted king,” which is a holdover from when rivals actually may have put up a fight for the throne, but on Saturday just sounded very anachronistic and Game of Thrones-y.

Prince George (top right), holding his grandpa’s train. Photo:Kirsty Wigglesworth, Pool (AP)

The specific ceremonies around the actual coronation were even sillier. Charles undressed on the Abbey dias with the help of many men in priestly robes, stripping down to a white shirt that symbolized “purity before God.” (Yes, he kept his pants on.) His very heavy looking velvet robe was piled into the arms of a guy in a fancy jacket, who I hope did upper-body strengthening in preparation for this. Then, the most holy bit took place behind special curtains—basically just fancy room dividers placed around the coronation chair (which, lest we forget, held the Stone of Destiny in its base)—where Charles was anointed with cruelty-free chrism oil.

When he emerged from behind the room dividers, officially king in the eyes of God (I guess?), Charles was then re-dressed in a series of different fancy robes. Various Anglican leaders then presented him with a series of objects: an orb, a ring, the Bracelets of Sincerity and Wisdom (I am not making this up), a single glove (that he had to put on, OJ-style), a scepter with a cross on top of it, and a golden rod. Then the Archbishop of Canterbury placed the crown on Charles’ head (and, I must say, really shoved it on there).

A pared-down version of the same ceremony happened to crown Camilla the queen, absent the disappearance behind the curtains and the outfit change, but complete with fancy accouterments ferried over to her chair that she had to touch. I cannot emphasize enough how much of this ceremony consisted of people handing other people various symbolic objects.

Though the public’s oath of allegiance was scrapped, Prince William’s was not, and following the act of coronation itself, he stepped forward and stood before his dad, promising, in essence, that he wouldn’t overthrow him. (Booo, give us some drama, Willy!) Then he planted the ceremonial Kiss for Daddy upon Charles’ cheek.

Photo:Yui Mok, Pool (AP)

Will and Kate were both wearing extremely cool ceremonial robes that looks, if heavy, fairly comfortable all things considered. Kate and Princess Charlotte, who is 8, wore what I can only describe as mommy-and-me tiaras. (Charlotte’s white dress and cape were also chic as hell but very age appropriate.) But of the Cambridge children, Prince Louis was by far the most impressive: He turned 5 less than two weeks ago, but behaved incredibly well every time he appeared on camera. (Photos reveal that he wasn’t there for certain parts, hopefully because he was taken to a soundproof antechamber where he could squeal and run around before heading back into the church.)

Prince Harry also attended, though he had no ceremonial role and sat with the other minor royals (Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, with whom he remains close). CNN showed credibly accused sex pest Prince Andrew entering and exiting the Abbey, but he was also not seated anywhere near the action.

After the ceremony itself, Charles received a salute from thousands of troops gathered at Buckingham Palace from across the Commonwealth, and royal lovers in Union Jack printed ponchos cheered on the new king when he emerged onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace. A commentator on CNN capped it off with the most British, back-handed comment—which I would be devastated to hear about myself—calling the moment “heartening for Charles” because it made him realize “how popular” he is. If all that takes is a crowd of very damp royal enthusiasts, then so be it.

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