King Charles' coronation draws tens of thousands braving rain to cheer monarch
As the end of the ceremony neared after two hours of ancient rituals, crowds lining the procession route and listening on loud speakers joined in when "God Save the King" was played.
LONDON — Tens of thousands of people of all ages, from Britain and across the globe, massed in rainy London on Saturday for King Charles' coronation, eager for a glimpse of the monarch and to feel a sense of history during a day filled with pomp and pageantry.
From the early hours, people dressed in red, white and blue and clutching union flags lined the streets for the first coronation in Britain for 70 years, which brought an outpouring of joy and unity but also solemn emotion, they said.
Many had brought stools or steps, to be able to see over the crowds, and wore elaborate fancy dress including paper crowns and plastic tiaras. While the service took place within Westminster Abbey strangers huddled together under umbrellas to watch the ceremony on ipads, or watched on big screens in parks.
Small children were held up to see as the royal family were taken in carriages back towards Buckingham Palace.
Following on his phone in St James's Park, Mick Windebank, 60, a builder from Surrey, said the moment the crown was placed on Charles' head was "very emotional."
"It's amazing. He's waited all his life for this moment. As sad as the passing of his mother was, it's his time," he said.
As the end of the ceremony neared after two hours of ancient rituals, crowds lining the procession route and listening on loud speakers joined in when "God Save the King," the national anthem, was played.
Charles and Camilla made their way back to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach and thousands applauded and held up phones to capture a glimpse of the newly crowned royals in the 260-year-old carriage, preceded by military bands and soldiers in red coats and bearskin fur hats.
Those gathered had different reasons to be there. Many older visitors wanted to show their support for Charles and the monarchy, others noted the beginning of a new era. Several younger observers spoke of a desire to witness history and some wanted to join a huge party.
"We have had a monarchy for hundreds of years and it is our connection with the past. Where else would you get these crowds? It has just been the most marvelous sense of occasion," said Sarah Alms, a housewife in her 60s.
Many people had lined the streets for the queen's funeral, and wanted to return to the capital for a more celebratory affair, while others simply wanted to enjoy the spectacle.
Pomp and ceremony
The coronation is taking place amid a cost of living crisis and public skepticism, particularly among the young, about the role and relevance of the monarchy, and its finances.
Charles, who had the longest wait for the throne of any British monarch, is not as popular as his mother, Queen Elizabeth, and his coronation did not draw the millions who thronged the streets to watch her crowning in 1953.
But polls show the public generally approves of Charles as king and a majority still support the monarchy, even if younger people are far less interested.
A few hundred protesters from the anti-monarchy group Republic gathered among the wellwishers along the route, booeing as Charles and Camilla went past and holding up signs saying "Not My King." The leader of the group was arrested before the procession started.
Sam Mindenhall, a 27-year-old cafe worker from Bristol, south west England, said he thought Charles would balance the tradition of a monarchy that dates back almost 1,000 years with the modern face of Britain.
"I think a lot of the issues that he cares about are quite important," he said, adding that Charles appeared to be "trying to be more inclusive and bring more people into our nation."
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