LONDON – Buckingham Palace is planning a weekend of community events and volunteering to mark the coronation of King Charles III, looking to highlight the monarchy’s links to the nation as Britain crowns a new sovereign for the first time in 70 years.
The plans were revealed on Saturday when the palace released the schedule for the three-day coronation weekend, which will begin with the coronation of Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, on Saturday 6 May.
The ceremony at Westminster Abbey will be preceded by a procession from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey. It will be followed by another procession, where Charles and Camilla will be joined by other members of the royal family, and an appearance on the palace balcony.
But there will be more to the weekend than crowns, sceptres and ermine capes.
The palace wants the coronation to demonstrate that the monarchy still has a role to play in a multicultural nation struggling to deal with a cost-of-living crisis, budget cuts and a wave of public sector strikes.
While there was widespread respect for Queen Elizabeth II, as demonstrated by the tens of thousands of people who waited for hours to pass her coffin after she died in September, there is no guarantee that reverence will be transferred to her eldest son.
The coronation will be a solemn service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, but the palace is also planning a weekend of events highlighting the diverse communities and cultures that contribute to modern Britain.
The palace is asking neighborhoods around the country to take part in the “Coronation Big Lunch” on Sunday May 7 – the latest incarnation of the block parties that have become a staple of major royal celebrations.
That evening there will be a concert at Windsor Castle with a choir drawn from amateur troupes across the UK, including refugee choirs, National Health Service choirs, LGBTQ singing groups and deaf signing choirs. The ‘Coronation Choir’ will perform alongside another made up of singers from across the Commonwealth who will appear virtually during the televised concert which will also include previously unknown headliners.
During the concert, places all over the country will be lit up with the help of projections, lasers and drone screens.
The following day, the palace invites people around the country to take part in ”The Big Help Out”, encouraging them to volunteer in their own communities.
“The Big Help Out will encourage people to try volunteering for themselves and join the work being done to support their local areas,” the palace said in a statement. “The aim of The Big Help Out is to use volunteering to bring communities together and create a lasting volunteering legacy from Coronation Weekend.”