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A Crown for King Charles III

The United Kingdom has a new king! King Charles III will be crowned on May 6.

King Charles in uniform inspecting a line of soldiers holding up swords.

Max Mumby—Indigo/Getty Images

Charles, then a prince, inspects cadets at a military school in England in 2015.

It’s not every day that a new king or queen is crowned. The coronation of King Charles III, which is set to take place on May 6, 2023, will be the first crowning of a new British monarch in nearly 70 years!

Both King Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, will be crowned at Westminster Abbey in London, England. Charles became the king of the United Kingdom (U.K.) immediately after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on September 8, 2022. The coronation is a ceremony in which the monarch’s role is made official. Coronation ceremonies in the U.K. (and England and Scotland before they joined together to become the U.K.) have taken place for more than 1,000 years.

During the ceremony, King Charles will promise to uphold the law and the Church of England. Experts say this is a formality. Long ago, England’s kings and queens were its true rulers. As a modern monarch, Charles holds no political power. (The government is run by a prime minister and a lawmaking body called Parliament.) But many of the traditions of the monarchy live on.  

As is fitting for a king, the event is designed to look very regal. The king and queen will travel from their home at Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the black and gold, horse-drawn carriage known as the Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Well-wishers are expected to line the route, as they often do when members of the royal family travel to a major event.

Will King Charles actually get a crown? Sort of. The royal family has a collection of incredibly valuable items, including more than one crown. During the ceremony, St. Edward’s Crown, which was made in 1661, will be placed on the king’s head. It’s the same crown that was placed on Queen Elizabeth’s head in 1953, at her coronation. 

Around 2,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony, including Charles’s sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, as well as William’s family. For everyone else, the ceremony will be broadcast and live streamed in many parts of the world.  

You can see photos having to do with the coronation in the slideshow below!

© WPA Pool/Getty Images; © Altezza/Dreamstime.com; Isabel Infantes—AFP/Getty Images; Oli Scarff/Getty Image; Hulton Archive—Hulton Royals Collection/Getty images; Jack Hill/Pool Photo—AFP/Getty Images

Fun Fact

Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund and Museum Purchase Fund, 45.179, © Miraswonderland/Dreamstime.com; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Did America almost have a king?

According to legend, some Americans suggested that George Washington should become the first king of the new United States. The legend says Washington was disgusted by the idea. (After all, Americans had just fought a war to be rid of England’s king.)

But this story is only a myth. No one ever suggested to Washington that he should become a king. Still, historians say that if someone had made the suggestion, Washington would have said no. His beliefs make it clear that he didn’t want America to have a king.

Locked in the Tower

Princess Elizabeth sits on a stone bench in a chamber as several men enter the chamber.

Stock Montage—Archive Photos/Getty Images

Princess Elizabeth was locked in the Tower of London by her half-sister. Later, Elizabeth would become the queen.

The crown that will be placed on King Charles’s head is part of the crown jewels, a collection of more than 100 objects that belong to the royal family. The jewels are kept in the Tower of London, a 900-year-old castle and fortress with a storied history.

The tower has had many uses, but it may be most famous as the place where a variety of people were imprisoned. 

One of the most famous inmates was a young princess named Elizabeth. The princess was locked in the tower in 1554 by her half-sister, Queen Mary, who feared Elizabeth was plotting to overthrow her and take over. Twenty-year-old Elizabeth was released a couple of months later. In 1559 she became Queen Elizabeth I. She reigned until her death in 1603.

For other inmates, the experience was much worse. Many people, even princes, princesses, kings, and queens, were locked in the tower for suspected crimes. In some cases, there was evidence that the person was guilty. In others, the monarch fabricated (made up) a crime to get the person out of the way. (Remember, monarchs used to have absolute power.) Many of the people who were imprisoned in the tower were eventually executed.

King Charles

Members of the royal family including Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth stand on a balcony together.

Chris Jackson—Chris Jackson Collection/Getty Images

For many years, the United Kingdom was ruled by Queen Elizabeth, who is at the center of this photo. Today, her son Charles (who stands next to her in the photo) is the king. You can read more about King Charles III at Britannica School.

WORD OF THE DAY

regal

PART OF SPEECH:

adjective

Definition:

of, relating to, or suitable for a king

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