With a month until King Charles III’s coronation, plans are at an advanced stage to mark Britain’s first enthronement in seven decades.
Charles, 74, immediately became king when Queen Elizabeth II died aged 96 last September after a record-breaking reign of 70 years.
But a British monarch’s coronation traditionally takes place later, after national and royal mourning along with months of intense preparation.
The early May coronation weekend will feature a star-studded concert, nationwide “big lunch” and volunteering initiatives, as well as the traditional ceremony and royal processions.
The three days of events will begin with Charles’s formal crowning at London’s Westminster Abbey on Saturday, May 6, in a tradition dating back more than 900 years.
May 7 will see a televised music concert staged at Windsor Castle, west of London, featuring “global music icons and contemporary stars”, according to Buckingham Palace.
However, the lineup is still to be confirmed. Kylie Minogue and Lionel Richie are reportedly set to perform, but other big names such as Adele and Elton John have cited diary clashes.
Also on May 7, neighbours and communities will be invited to host thousands of “coronation big lunches”, billed as a “nationwide act of celebration and friendship”.
The final part of coronation weekend, dubbed “the big help out”, will be held on Monday, May 8 — designated a UK public holiday this year.
Organised by community forums and various faith groups, it will “highlight the positive impact volunteering has on communities across the nation”.
The coronation ceremony is expected to be much shorter and less elaborate than the one staged for Elizabeth in 1953.
Then, proceedings lasted almost three hours, drew 8,251 official guests crammed into temporary tiers in Westminster Abbey, and included representatives from 129 nations and territories.
This time, the palace has confirmed it will be inviting a mere 2,000 guests, while the service is set to last around an hour.
It released an image of the official invitation, which is set to go out in the coming days.
Designed by heraldic artist Andrew Jamieson, it features the motif of “the Green Man”, an ancient figure from British folklore, “symbolic of spring and rebirth, to celebrate the new reign”.
Foreign royals including Prince Albert of Monaco, and Prince Fumihito and his wife Kiko of Japan, have confirmed their attendance.
Several European leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron are also expected along with senior diplomats from China, despite ongoing tensions between the West and Beijing.
The United States will be represented by First Lady Jill Biden, the White House confirmed on Tuesday.
In a phone call, President Joe Biden “congratulated the king on his upcoming coronation” and looked forward to meeting him in the future, it said.
Among members of the British public invited is a teenager who has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars) for a hospice by camping in his garden every night for three years.
Harry and Meghan?
Suspense remains around whether Prince Harry and Meghan will travel from the United States.
A spokesperson for Charles’s younger son confirmed last month that he and his wife had been invited, but would not say if they had agreed to attend.
Harry has fallen out spectacularly with his family, after giving a series of incendiary interviews criticising the institution.
There was particular outrage in Britain at allegations made against Charles and elder brother William in Harry’s autobiography “Spare”, published earlier this year.
Charles’s wife Camilla will also be formally crowned — wearing Queen Mary’s Crown.
More than a century old, it was commissioned by Queen Mary for her 1911 coronation alongside King George V.
Charles will wear the 17th century St Edward’s Crown.
His wife has been known as “queen consort” since Elizabeth II died.
But invitations to the coronation call her, for the first time, as “Queen Camilla”, and she is expected to retain that title after May 6.