When did Prince Charles become King Charles?

Prince Charles had been heir apparent to the throne of Great Britain since he was three years old. Under the common law rule Rex nunquam moritur (‘The king never dies’), Prince Charles became King as soon as his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died on 8 September 2022. The Accession Council proclaimed him as King, but it is not necessary for the monarch to be crowned in order to become King or Queen. Parliament was then recalled so parliamentarians could take their oaths of allegiance to the new sovereign.


When will the coronation take place?

Charles’s official coronation takes place on the 6 May, after 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.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, following The Queen's coronation in 1953

What is likely to be the format of the coronation?

Unlike the recent weddings of Princes William and Harry, which were semi-state and private occasions respectively, Charles’s coronation will be a full state occasion and thus funded by the UK government. The coronation will take the form of an Anglican service held in Westminster Abbey, as has been the case for the last 900 years, but it is likely that space will be made for other religions and Christian denominations to reflect a more modern sensibility.

Will there be a procession?

Before the service the King and The Queen Consort will arrive at Westminster Abbey in procession from Buckingham Palace, known as ‘The King’s Procession’.

After the Service, Their Majesties will return to Buckingham Palace in a larger ceremonial procession, known as ‘The Coronation Procession’.

What time does the Coronation service start?

Timings have not been announced yet.

How long is the coronation service?

The exact details have not been announced yet but Queen Elizabeth II's coronation service was three hours long.

What happens in a coronation service?

The Coronation is a solemn religious service, as well as an occasion for celebration and pageantry. It will be filled with music, prayer and vows.

It is thought Charles's coronation will follow the pattern of his late mother's coronation service, which had six parts;

  1. The recognition
  2. The oath
  3. The anointing
  4. The investiture, which includes the crowning
  5. The enthronement
  6. The homage.

Who will be conducting the coronation service?

The Coronation Service will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury

On the programme are twelve newly-commissioned pieces of music, showcasing composers from across the UK and the commonwealth.

These include a new Coronation Anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a Coronation March by Patrick Doyle, a new work for solo organ embracing musical themes from countries across the Commonwealth by Iain Farrington, along with new works by Sarah Class, Nigel Hess, Paul Mealor, Tarik O'Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley J. Thompson, Judith Weir, Roderick Williams and Debbie Wiseman. In total there will be six pieces for orchestra, five choral works and one instrumental work.

Elsewhere there will be music by Edward Elgar, William Byrd and George Handel, as well as Greek orthodox music in memory of the King's father, Prince Philip.

Who will the performers be?

Among the soloists will be the baritone Roderick Williams, soprano Pretty Yende and Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel. The organ will be played by Westminster Abbey's Sub-Organist Peter Holder and Assistant Organist Matthew Jorysz. The Royal Harpist Alis Huws will perform as part of the Coronation Orchestra in recognition of the King's long-standing relationship with Wales. Part of the service will also be sung in Welsh.

Other performers include The Choir of Westminster Abbey and The Choir of His Majesty's Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, together with girl choristers from the Chapel Choir of Methodist College, Belfast and from Truro Cathedral Choir.

The Ascension Choir, a handpicked gospel choir, will also perform as part of the Service and The King's Scholars of Westminster School will proclaim the traditional 'Vivat' acclamations. Sir Antonio Pappano will conduct the Coronation Orchestra and Sir John Eliot Gardiner will conduct The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque soloists in a pre-Service programme of choral music. A small group of singers from The Monteverdi Choir will also join the main choral forces for the Service and all arrangements will be overseen by Andrew Nethsingha, Westminster Abbey Organist and Master of the Choristers.

Fanfares proclaiming the new king will be heard of course, and they will be played on herald trumpets by The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry and The Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force.


Prince Charles photo: Dan Marsh


Charlotte SmithEditor of BBC Music Magazine

Charlotte Smith is the editor of BBC Music Magazine. Born in Australia, she hails from a family of musicians with whom she played chamber music from a young age. She earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from London's Royal College of Music, followed by a master’s in English from Cambridge University. She was editor of The Strad from 2017 until the beginning of 2022, and has also worked for Gramophone Magazine and as a freelance arts writer. In her spare time, she continues to perform as an active chamber musician.