Over 6000 guests will not attend King Charles III’s Coronation service at Westminster Abbey next year, according to insider sources.
Palace insiders say the Duke of Norfolk, who as Earl Marshal is masterminding the Coronation, has been tasked with preparing a simpler, shorter and more diverse ceremony that reflects modern Britain.
‘The King has stripped back a lot of the Coronation in recognition that the world has changed in the past 70 years,’ one well-placed source said Friday.
In 1953, some 8,000 peers and commoners spent more than three hours crammed into the Abbey on makeshift benches and improvised gantries.
In contrast, Charles’s Coronation is expected to last little more than an hour, with only 2,000 guests and dignitaries.
Some key rituals will be retained, including the anointing of the monarch, who will swear to be the ‘defender of the faith’, not ‘defender of faith’ as previously speculated.
The 1762 Gold State Coach, which was refurbished at great expense for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, will also once again be part of the Coronation procession.
Other lengthy traditions are likely to be axed. In the final weeks of 1952, the ancient Court of Claims was set up in Westminster to assess which members of the gentry had the right to perform certain roles.
Over a period of several weeks the court, led by senior judges in England and Scotland, heard 21 claims.
The Earl of Shrewsbury was appointed to carry a white wand as a symbol of his office, while the Dean of Westminster was allowed to instruct the Queen in the rites and ceremonies.
Winston Churchill, then Prime Minister and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, a ceremonial position dating back to the 12th Century, presented claims from various barons of the ports to carry the canopy over the head of the Queen.
The traditional presentation of gold to the monarch is also likely to disappear. In 1952, it was reported that ‘an ingot or wedge of gold of a pound weight’ was presented to the monarch by the Lord Great Chamberlain before being placed upon the altar. A source said: ‘In an age where people are feeling the pinch, this is not going to happen.’
Velvet chairs made especially for the 1953 Coronation are likely to be replaced by standard seating.
Diplomats and other male guests invited to the 1953 Coronation were instructed that ‘knee breeches’ were in order, while women were advised to wear headgear, preferably tiaras.
The dress code next year will be less prescriptive.
Discussions had taken place on relaxing the requirement for peers to wear so-called coronation robes. A cloak of crimson velvet, the rank of the peer is indicated by rows of ermine – a stoat’s white winter fur and black tail end – on the cape.
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Mather, who started the plan for King Charles’s Coronation – which has since been updated – told The Mail on Sunday: ‘No Coronation robes. Give them to a museum where they belong. It’s not going to be a tweed jacket and pair of jeans – but morning suit or lounge suit.’
Other experts speculated that peers could don their ermine-trimmed parliamentary robes instead.