On May 6th, the coronation of King Charles III will be held in London. Let’s discuss the events, ceremonies, and vocabulary you need to know about Charles’ coronation!

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  • To crown (v) – to put a crown on someone’s head in an official ceremony that makes that person king or queen.
    • Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953.
  • Accession (n) – the time when someone starts a position of authority, especially a king or queen,
    • 1926 was the year of Emperor Hirohito’s accession to the throne.
  • Throne (n) – the special chair used by a king or queen, and the state of being a ruler.
    • William is next in line to the throne.
  • To anoint (v) – to make someone king or queen, especially as part of a religious ceremony.
    • In 751 Pepin was anointed king.
  • Regalia (n) – official and traditional special clothes and decorations, especially those worn or carried in formal ceremonies.
    • The queen’s regalia at her coronation included her crown and sceptre.
  • Carriage (n) – a vehicle with four wheels that is usually pulled by horses and was used mainly in the past.
    • He will travel by horse-drawn carriage.
  • Congregation (n) – a group of people who have come together in a religious building for worship and prayer.
    • The priest asked the congregation to kneel.
  • Homage (n) – deep respect and often praise shown for a person or god.
    • On this occasion we pay homage to him for his achievements.

The 2023 Coronation!

On Saturday 6th May 2023, the coronation of King Charles III will take place at Westminster Abbey in London. The UK will spend a long weekend celebrating the crowning of our new king through concerts, parties, community service, and a lavish ceremony filled with unusual traditions and expensive events.

Charles became King last year after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth was one of the longest reigning monarchs in world history, meaning that the UK has not experienced a coronation since the 1950s.

Billions of people around the world will be watching as Charles, alongside his wife Camilla, are crowned as King and Queen Consort. Today, I’d like to help some of you listening by explaining some of the important traditions and introducing you to some essential coronation vocabulary!

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Who is King Charles III?

King Charles III is the King of England and the United Kingdom, as well as a number of other countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Let’s learn a little about his life!

Charles was the first child of Queen Elizabeth II. Growing up, Charles attended various schools, including Cheam School and Gordonstoun, before going on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he earned a degree in archaeology and anthropology. After his university education, Charles went on to serve in the Royal Navy and later the Royal Air Force, where he trained as a pilot.

Throughout his life, Charles has been a prominent figure in British public life and has been actively involved in various charitable causes. He has championed environmental causes, and his interest in architecture and urban planning has led to the creation of the Prince’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development and design.

Charles is also known for his involvement in various humanitarian causes, and his work has included supporting disadvantaged and marginalized communities. His passion for the arts has also led him to become a patron of various cultural organizations and institutions.

As the next in line to the British throne, Charles has been preparing for his eventual accession to the throne throughout his life, and it is expected that he will bring his unique style and interests to his role as monarch.

In addition to his public life, Charles has been married twice. His first marriage to Lady Diana Spencer, in 1981, was widely publicized and ended in divorce in 1996. The couple had two children together, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Charles’ second marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005 was also met with controversy due to their affair while Charles was still married to Diana. However, in recent years, Charles and Camilla’s relationship has been more accepted, and Camilla has been given the official title Queen Consort.


What is a Coronation?

A coronation is a significant event in the life of a monarch, marking their ascension to the throne and formalizing their role as the head of state. This event consists of two distinct parts: the symbolic religious ceremony, during which the monarch is crowned, and the physical act of placing a crown on the monarch’s head.

The coronation ceremony is steeped in tradition and is deeply rooted in the history of the British Monarchy. It is a grand event that involves a carefully planned series of rituals and ceremonies, including the anointing of the monarch, the presentation of the royal regalia, and the swearing of oaths of allegiance.

Apart from the symbolic and religious significance of the coronation, it also marks the transfer of the monarch’s title and powers. It is the formal moment at which the outgoing monarch’s reign ends and the new monarch’s reign begins. This transition of power is an essential part of the continuity and stability of the British Monarchy.

While the coronation ceremony has historically been a necessary part of a monarch’s accession to the throne, it is not a legal requirement for a monarch to be crowned. For instance, Edward VIII reigned without a coronation due to his abdication, while Queen Elizabeth II was never officially crowned in Scotland. And when Queen Elizabeth II passed away, her son, Charles, automatically became King.

The Coronation

The Procession

For over a millennium, British coronations have kept a traditional format with similar ceremonies and events. It is the only remaining large scale public coronation in Europe, but compared to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, the upcoming coronation of King Charles III will likely be shorter and more diverse. The United Kingdom today is a very different country to 70 years ago, and it is expected to have a wider representation of different religions in the ceremony.

One of the key features of a coronation is a procession. A procession is a ceremonial parade that takes place during a monarch’s coronation, typically leading up to the religious ceremony at a location such as a cathedral or abbey. The procession is usually led by the newly crowned monarch, accompanied by members of the Royal Family, government officials, dignitaries, and representatives from various organizations.

While Queen Elizabeth had over 15,000 participants and the procession through the streets of London took hours, this year it is expected to be a shorter and more modern affair. The King and the Queen Consort will actually travel to Westminster Abbey in a modern carriage, but on the return journey will use the Gold State Coach, which has been used in every coronation since the 1830s.

This time, the procession is estimated to have over 6,000 members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces, and thousands of hospital workers and military veterans will be given priority viewing positions in London.

The Ceremony

After arriving at Westminster Abbey, a traditional coronation ceremony will be held to formally declare Charles as King. There are a few different steps in this process.

First is “The Recognition.” During this stage, the Archbishop of Canterbury will present Charles to the congregation (the guests in the Abbey), asking if they are willing to accept and obey the new King. The congregation will then respond with a loud shout of “God Save the King!” The recognition signifies the moment when the new monarch’s authority is recognized and affirmed by the people and the Church of England.

This stage dates back to medieval times when it was important for the new monarch to gain the approval of their subjects and ensure their loyalty. The recognition serves as a reminder of the obligations and duties that exist between the monarch and the people, as well as the monarch’s role as the protector of the Church of England.

Next, Charles will swear an oath to uphold the law and govern the people according to the customs and laws of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. He will be presented with a copy of the Bible and asked to make the declaration.

The oath-taking is a symbolic moment in the coronation, representing the king’s commitment to uphold the laws of the country and to serve their people. His promise to govern according to the laws and customs of the various territories also reflects the diversity of the Commonwealth realms, highlighting the importance of respecting different cultures and traditions.

After swearing his oath, Charles will then be anointed with holy oil. The Archbishop of Canterbury will pour the oil onto the King’s hands and then onto his head in the shape of a cross. The anointing is symbolic of the monarch’s connection to the divine and the divine authority that they hold as ruler.

The oil used for anointing is specially prepared and blessed by the Church of England, and is a mixture of olive oil, balsam, and other fragrant oils. The anointing ceremony is an ancient tradition that has been part of British coronations for over a thousand years. This year, however, Charles has requested that the oil not be made with animal products.

Perhaps the most important part of the coronation is the investiture. This involves the presentation of the regalia to the newly crowned monarch. The regalia includes the crown, the orb, the sceptre, and other symbolic items that represent the king or queen’s power and authority.

During the investiture, the Archbishop of Canterbury presents the crown to the king who then places it on their head. The monarch also receives the orb, which represents the world, and the sceptre, which represents their royal authority. The monarch also receives the ring of state, which represents their marriage to the nation.

After the presentation of the regalia, the congregation acknowledges the new king or queen with a loud cry of “God save the King/Queen!” The monarch then returns to the throne to receive homage from the archbishops, bishops, and peers of the realm. The archbishops and bishops pledge their loyalty to the king or queen, while the peers do so individually by placing their hands on the monarch’s crown.

The investiture marks the end of the coronation ceremony and the beginning of the new monarch’s reign.

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Final Thought

The coronation will be one of the biggest events of the year. Hundreds of thousands of people will line the streets of London, with probably billions watching on TV around the world, to watch the procession and ceremonies.

As many of the traditions and rituals are over 1000 years old, the vocabulary can be difficult for English learners and non-native speakers. Hopefully after listening to this episode you will be able to understand King Charles’ coronation!

What do you think? Will you be watching King Charles’ Coronation?

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By Tom Wilkinson

Host and founder of Thinking in English, Tom is committed to providing quality and interesting content to all English learners. Previously a research student at a top Japanese university and with a background in English teaching, political research, and Asian languages, Tom is now working fulltime on bettering Thinking in English!

One thought on “230. What is King Charles’ Coronation? (English Vocabulary Lesson)”
  1. It is interesting the ceremony step when the king puts by himself the crown on his head, instead of make do it by the Archbishop. It remembers me the story between Charlemagne and the Pope, the Christmas night of 800 A.D. , when it was the Pope to put the crown on the King’s head. Some scholar says that this upsetted Charlemagne, because it meant which he derivated his power from the Pope. It is also well known the Napoleon coronation as emperor, when he took the crown by the Pope’s hands ti put It on his head by himself.

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