The coronation — the first of a king since 1937, only the second to be televised and the first in colour and streamed online — is the religious confirmation of Charles’s accession.
It will see the St Edward’s Crown — a solid gold, sacred symbol of the monarch’s authority used only once in the reign — placed on Charles’s head at 1100 GMT to cries of “God Save the King”.
King Charles III entered London’s Westminster Abbey on Saturday for a solemn Christian coronation steeped in 1,000 years of history and tradition, but adapted to reflect 21st-century Britain.
The build-up to the ceremony — the religious confirmation of Charles’s accession after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II last September — has been mostly celebratory.
Britain’s King Charles III arrives at Westminster Abbey, in central London on May 6, 2023, for his coronation. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP)
But even before Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 75, left Buckingham Palace aboard the Diamond Jubilee State Coach for a rainy procession to the abbey, police arrested dozens of protesters using new powers rushed onto the statute book to crack down on direct action groups.
The anti-monarchy movement Republic — which wants an elected head of state — said six of its organisers were detained, while climate activists Just Stop Oil said 19 of its number were held.
Nevertheless, dozens of Republic activists held aloft banners on the route of the procession route, declaring: “Not My King.”
Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International voiced concern at the arrests.
“This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London,” HRW said.
London’s Metropolitan Police has some 11,500 officers on the streets in one of its biggest ever security operations. It has warned that it has an “extremely low threshold” for protests.