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LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 06: King Charles III after being crowned with the St Edward’s Crown by The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Justin Welby during his coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023 in London, England. The Coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as King and Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the other Commonwealth realms takes place at Westminster Abbey today. Charles acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022, upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II. (Photo by Aaron Chown – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Coronation physics

Coronation physics

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 06: King Charles III after being crowned with the St Edward’s Crown by The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Justin Welby during his coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023 in London, England. The Coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as King and Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the other Commonwealth realms takes place at Westminster Abbey today. Charles acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022, upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II. (Photo by Aaron Chown – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Charles III was already king on Saturday morning but he was crowned anyway in a two-hour ceremony that no one witnessed more intimately than Bishop Paul Butler of Durham. He was at the king’s right shoulder throughout, fulfilling a spiritual role but also an historic one as the “prince bishop” who guards the north of England on behalf of the Sovereign. He was, he says, struck above all by “the sacredness of the anointing and the crowning itself”. The crowning took eight and a half seconds as the Archbishop of Canterbury made sure it was on tight. It was, Bishop Paul says, “an enormous moment; I was aware from conversations during rehearsals of [the king’s] deep sense that this was God’s call on his life”. So it was important that the crown stay on. To this end the Bishop of Durham at his right shoulder and the Bishop of Bath and Wells at his left put their hands under the king’s elbows at the epochal moment when he finally stood up so he did not have to lean forward. And stay on it did.