King Charles III’s coronation: when will it take place and what music could feature?

11 October 2022, 18:01 | Updated: 11 October 2022, 18:10

Classic FM

By Classic FM

Buckingham Palace has announced that the coronation of His Majesty the King will take place on Saturday 6 May 2023. Here’s all we know so far.

His Majesty King Charles III will be crowned at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6 May 2023, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.

The coronation ceremony will be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and will also see Camilla, Queen Consort crowned.

A spokesperson for the Palace said the Coronation will “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry”.

Here’s all we know so far about King Charles III’s coronation, including what music could be featured in the ceremony.

Read more: King Charles III is a former cellist who once conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra

King Charles III and Queen Camilla attend the Accession Council at St James's Palace on 10 September, as His Majesty is formally proclaimed monarch
King Charles III and Queen Camilla attend the Accession Council at St James's Palace on 10 September, as His Majesty is formally proclaimed monarch. Picture: Alamy

What is a coronation, and what happens at the ceremony?

At a coronation ceremony, the crown is placed on the new monarch’s head for the first time. The ceremony is a solemn, religious service but also an occasion for celebration and pageantry, where other items of regalia are presented.

Coronation ceremonies in the British monarchy have retained a similar structure over the past millennium. They have taken place at Westminster Abbey for the last 900 years, and since 1066 have almost always been conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Next year’s coronation for Charles III is expected to include the same core elements with some changes to reflect our current times.

A monarch’s coronation traditionally takes place some months after their accession to the throne, following a period of mourning. Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation took place on 2 June 1953, over a year after her accession on 6 February 1952.

It is expected that The King will sign a proclamation formally declaring the date of the coronation at a meeting of the Privy Council later this year. During the ceremony, Charles III will be “anointed, blessed and consecrated” by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral: All the music played during the service

What music could feature at King Charles III’s coronation?

Charles III’s coronation ceremony can be expected to heavily feature music by British composers. Queen Elizabeth II’s ceremony featured Walton’s Crown Imperial, ‘Jupiter’ from Holst’s The Planets, Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance Marches, Parry’s ‘I Was Glad’ and Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of ‘Greensleeves’, among many other pieces.

Queen Elizabeth’s ceremony also featured music specially written for her coronation, including Walton’s ‘Te Deum’ and Harris’ ‘Let my prayer come up’. Similarly, the late Queen’s funeral service featured two new works – by Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan, and Master of the King’s Music, Judith Weir.

King Charles III is known for his love of classical music, particularly having played cello as a young man. Weir told Classic FM that “it will be marvellous for all of us musicians to have somebody like that as our head”.

In an exclusive radio programme for Classic FM, the then-Prince of Wales chose some of his best-loved classical music performed by his patronages, including Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, choruses from Bach’s St Matthew Passion and the ‘Bridal March of the Birds’ from Parry’s The Birds of Aristophanes.

In a second programme, he chose to showcase Chopin’s piano concertos, the Four Last Songs of Strauss, and Julius Benedict’s Piano Concerto in E flat.