Friday, 3 Feb 2023

King Charles’s slimmed-down coronation ‘half the size of Queen’s’

King Charles will ‘forgive’ Prince Harry says Petronella Wyatt

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Palace officials have told the authorities in Parliament to prepare for a guest list that will be less than half the size of the one for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953 when special stands were erected in the Abbey to allow 8,000 people to attend a service that lasted almost three hours.

This time there will be no special stands or scaffolding, according to sources in Parliament, and the service is predicted to last around half the time of the 1953 event.

But the Abbey, which normally has a capacity of 2,200 people for national events, will be able to cram in up to 800 more people by putting seats in the medieval galleries which sit 52ft above the floor.

Senior figures in Parliament are already worried about how many politicians will be able to attend and fear a diplomatic headache in trying to accommodate many of the 650 MPs and 800 peers vying for a seat alongside guests including Commonwealth leaders, the extended British Royal Family, foreign royalty, other dignitaries and representatives of charities supported by the monarchy.

“We are still waiting for details of a plan, but we have been told to expect attendance numbers of around 3,000 so nothing like the 8,000 last time, when they had to put up scaffolding and all sorts to accommodate the numbers,” a Parliamentary source said.

“It will mean far fewer people, so they will have to think about who does and does not get an invite. There will be a lot of disappointed people.”

The Queen’s funeral in September gave the Parliamentary authorities a taste of what may be to come. In November Cabinet minister Sir Gavin Williamson was forced to resign after it emerged he had been accused of bullying Chief Whip Wendy Morton in text messages berating her over her failure to get him an invitation to the state funeral.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has described the Coronation as “a unique moment for the country” and promised that it will showcase the best of Britain. Palace officials have said there will be pomp and pageantry “with all the bangs and whistles” but royal sources have also insisted it will be arranged with the cost-of-living crisis “very much in mind”.

The Queen’s Coronation in 1953 cost £1.57million, equivalent to £56million in 2023 prices according to some inflation calculators. Government officials have declined to say whether a budget has been set for the 2023 Coronation but the costs, spread between the Royal Household and various Government departments as well as the police, are likely to be disclosed only after the event.

Some royal insiders have predicted that this Coronation will be far less lavish but still akin to a royal wedding or funeral, events that have typically cost the taxpayer around £8 million at today’s prices.

Catherine Pepinster, author of the book Defenders of the Faith: the British Monarchy, Religion, and the next Coronation, predicted that the King’s decision this week to give up any chance of benefitting from a £1 billion windfall from green energy that will boost the profits of the Crown Estate would pave the way for a more eye-catching ceremony than some expected.

“This will make a show-stopper Coronation, funded by the public purse, much more palatable,” she said. “I think the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations showed that you can have a tremendously impressive event watched on TV right across the world without having 8,000 guests inside Westminster Abbey.”

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