By Alexander Zhang
King Charles III has been crowned in London’s Westminster Abbey in Britain’s biggest ceremonial event for seven decades.
In front of a congregation of about 100 world leaders and a television audience of millions, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby placed the 360-year-old St. Edward’s Crown on Charles’ head as he sat upon a 14th-century throne in Westminster Abbey.
Charles became the 40th reigning sovereign to be crowned at the abbey, the nation’s coronation church since 1066.
At the age of 74, he is the oldest monarch to ever take the British throne.
His second wife Camilla, 75, was subsequently crowned as queen.
The ceremony came more than seven months after Charles became king last September following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, after a 70-year reign.
The coronation was on a smaller scale than that staged for Queen Elizabeth in 1953, but still sought to be spectacular, featuring an array of historical regalia from golden orbs and bejewelled swords to a sceptre holding the world’s largest colourless cut diamond.
Tens of thousands of well-wishers braved the light rain and gathered to cheer the royal procession and military parade for the coronation.
“No other country could put on such a dazzling display—the processions, the pageantry, the ceremonies, and street parties,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
The prayers at the Christian ceremony took the theme of “Called to Serve,” an attribute associated with the late Queen who pledged her life to the Commonwealth.
Before the crowning, the archbishop delivered a sermon to the 2,300 guests, a gathering of world leaders, celebrities, UK politicians, foreign royalty, everyday heroes, and the royal family.
Welby began by telling the congregation: “We are here to crown a king, and we crown a King to serve.
“What is given today is for the gain of all. For Jesus Christ announced a kingdom in which the poor and oppressed are freed from chains of injustice. The blind see. The bruised and broken-hearted are healed.”
Speaking to Charles and Camilla, Welby said: “The weight of the task given you today, Your Majesties, is only bearable by the spirit of God, who gives us the strength to give our lives to others.”
Charles delivered a King’s Prayer, the first time a monarch has spoken words to God aloud during a coronation, and he touched on the duty of the sovereign to serve all communities.
He told the abbey: “God of compassion and mercy whose son was sent not to be served but to serve, give grace that I may find in thy service perfect freedom and in that freedom knowledge of thy truth.
“Grant that I may be a blessing to all thy children, of every faith and conviction, that together we may discover the ways of gentleness and be led into the paths of peace. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.”
After the service, Charles and Camilla will depart in the four-tonne Gold State Coach built for George III, the last king of Britain’s American colonies, riding to Buckingham Palace in a one-mile procession of 4,000 military personnel from 39 nations.
It will be the largest show of its kind in Britain since the coronation of Charles’ mother.
However, not all were there to cheer Charles, hundreds of republicans booed and waved banners reading “Not My King.”
“It is an unequal and out-of-date system because it has a hereditary billionaire individual born into wealth and privilege who basically symbolises the inequality of wealth and power in our society,” said Labour MP Clive Lewis, who was among the anti-monarchy protesters.
The anti-monarchy campaign group Republic said that its chief executive Graham Smith had been arrested along with five of his team members in the run-up to the coronation.
Writing on Twitter on Saturday morning, the group said: “This morning, Graham Smith and 5 members of our team were arrested. Hundreds of placards were seized. Is this democracy?”
Soon afterwards, 13 activists from the climate group Just Stop Oil were arrested on the Mall, near Buckingham Palace.
The Metropolitan Police later confirmed that several people had been arrested on suspicion of offences including breaching the peace and conspiracy to cause public nuisance.
Met chief Mark Rowley had warned on Friday that there would be a “very low tolerance for disruption.” There are more than 11,000 police officers on patrol in central London.
PA Media and Reuters contributed to this report.