Tens of thousands of street parties were planned on Sunday as Britain celebrated the coronation of King Charles III ahead of a concert for 20,000 people at Windsor Castle.
After days of back-to-back diplomatic receptions, garden parties and rehearsals for Saturday’s event at Westminster Abbey, Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 75, will host a private reception.
They will then join the evening concert at the castle west of London.
Charles’s coronation as monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth countries around the world was the first in Britain for 70 years.
The glittering ceremony, steeped in 1,000 years of tradition and ritual, was attended by global royalty and world leaders.
But Sunday’s events are a shift in emphasis.
While the coronation ceremony has its roots in the England of 1066, the “Big Lunch” parties look to bring modern Britain’s communities closer.
Monday has been declared a public holiday — meaning people can let loose on Sunday without having to worry about a hangover.
Charles and Camilla hope the long weekend “will provide an opportunity to spend time and celebrate with friends, families and communities”, Buckingham Palace said.
After the post-World War II hardships, street parties were a major feature of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 — and a memorable part of celebrations for her long reign in 1977 and her platinum jubilee last year.
The Big Lunch is an attempt to keep alive that more neighbourly spirit. More than 67,000 Big Lunches are planned, according to organisers Eden Project Communities.
“From a cup of tea with a neighbour to a street party, a Coronation Big Lunch brings the celebrations to your neighbourhood and is a great way to get to know your community a little better,” Buckingham Palace said.
It is likely to see multiple hit-and-miss attempts at making Coronation Quiche — the specially created, baked savoury tart featuring spinach, broad beans and tarragon.
The king’s sister, Princess Anne, was due to attend a community street party in Windsor, where his nieces Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie — Prince Andrew’s daughters — will also attend a big lunch.
Stars and lights
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will host a lunch at his 10 Downing Street office and residence, inviting community volunteers and Ukrainian refugees.
Take That, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry are among the stars performing at Sunday’s concert that harks back to previous royal jubilees of the late queen.
Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel — who sang during the coronation service — will also be performing, along with Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Andrea Bocelli, Paloma Faith and Nicole Scherzinger.
Hollywood star Tom Cruise, actress Joan Collins, adventurer Bear Grylls and singer Tom Jones will appear via video message.
The Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal College of Music and the Royal College of Art will come together for a one-off performance.
Buckingham Palace said the centrepiece would be “Lighting up the Nation”, in which well-known locations across Britain will be lit up using projections, lasers, drone displays and illuminations.
The coronation dominated British media on Sunday, with focus on the magnificence of the ceremony but also on the pressing problems of the country Charles faces.
The cost of the coronation — reported to be upwards of £100 million ($126 million) — has caused disquiet at a time when many Britons are struggling with the soaring cost of living and widespread strikes.
Many covered the arrest of anti-monarchists even before they had a chance to protest, which has prompted concern from rights groups.
The BBC said more than 14 million tuned in on its two main terrestrial channels to watch the ceremony — well down on previous major royal occasions.
The Guardian hailed an event that was “ludicrous but also magnificent” and an “extraordinary show of precision in a country where nothing works”.
It praised the multi-faith parts of the service, adding: “If you felt nothing when the choir sang Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’… you are either an algorithm or half dead.”
The Times noted that the “stilted, almost anxious, expression” on Charles’s face at Westminster Abbey “was perhaps a reflection of the scale of his task”.
“He rules over a country in a mess and a monarchy diminished by scandal, with his younger brother and son both cast out from the inner circle” while foreign realms are departing with the trend likely to continue.