The Coronation of King Charles III: A Look at American Attendees and a Comparison to His Mother’s Ceremony

On Saturday, the 39th coronation ceremony of the British monarchy will take place at Westminster Abbey, marking the official ascension of King Charles III to the throne. More than 2,000 guests are expected to attend the deeply religious ceremony, which comes eight months after the passing of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Among the attendees will be First Lady Jill Biden, who will represent the United States, although President Joe Biden will not be present. This is not surprising, as no U.S. president has ever attended a coronation. Historically, it has been difficult for the president to travel overseas for such events, and the U.S. has maintained a tradition of not participating in ceremonies that are seen as purely British and Commonwealth affairs.

Laura Beers, a British history professor at American University, notes that President Biden is keeping with this tradition, and that it has nothing to do with foreign policies towards Britain or the nature of the special relationship. Rather, it is simply a matter of protocol.

In addition to Jill Biden, the U.S. delegation will include special climate envoy John Kerry, who has collaborated with King Charles on climate initiatives. Prince Harry will also be in attendance, though he will not play a role in the ceremony. His wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will remain in California with their children.

The coronation concert, which will take place on Sunday, will feature performances by singers and “American Idol” judges Lionel Richie and Katy Perry. Both artists serve as ambassadors for the king’s charities: Richie for The Prince’s Trust, which supports disadvantaged youth, and Perry for the British Asian Trust, which was co-founded by King Charles to tackle poverty in South Asia.

While King Charles’ coronation is expected to be grand, it will be a far cry from the pomp and circumstance of his mother’s coronation in 1953. More than 8,000 attendees packed Westminster Abbey for that ceremony, including every leading member of the nobility, members of Parliament, and foreign representatives from over 100 countries, many of which were part of the British Commonwealth.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent a special delegation of four members in his place. The ceremony was almost three hours long, and the procession back to Buckingham Palace covered more than four miles through London, with over 16,000 individuals participating.

This time, most of the typical members of nobility that have traditionally been invited to coronations over the past 1,000 years have been left off the guest list, although foreign royalty, members of Parliament, and heads of state, such as French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, will be present.

Despite the differences, the core aspects of the coronation remain unchanged since the time of English King William the Conqueror in 1066. King Charles will use regalia dating back to the 17th century, and he will sit in the same coronation chair used by every English and British monarch since the 1200s.

While the ceremony itself will remain similar, one thing that will differ is the level of global viewership. The coronation will be streamed on various channels, including ABC News, CBS, CNN, Fox News, BBC News Channel, and NBC at 5 a.m. ET on Saturday. The service will also be live-streamed. The late queen’s ceremony was the first-ever televised coronation and was watched by more than 27 million people in the United Kingdom alone. However, the global reach of King Charles’ coronation may surpass his mother’s ceremony, as her funeral was viewed by billions of people worldwide.

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