Millions of people across the UK are preparing to celebrate the historic coronation of King Charles III on Saturday.
The day will feature customs dating back more than 1,000 years and Charles will become the 40th reigning monarch to be crowned at Westminster Abbey since 1066.
It will be an occasion of pomp and splendour but the Royal Family have taken steps to strip back elements of the celebration, acutely aware that it is being held amid the backdrop of a cost of living crisis and rampant inflation squeezing household budgets.
The King’s coronation procession stretches to just 1.3 miles – around a quarter of the length of the late Queen’s five-mile celebratory journey in 1953.
STV News takes a look at how coronation day will unfold, the world leaders attending, and the mood of the nation ahead of a seismic day in British history.
Viewing areas along the procession route open early on Saturday morning
Royal superfans started camping out earlier this week to secure the best vantage points – wearing thermals to keep warm and organising shifts to keep their front-row seats to see “history in the making”.
Guests for Westminster Abbey will begin to arrive at security checkpoints in Victoria Tower Gardens between 7.15am and 8.30am.
Heads of state, overseas government representatives, government ministers, first ministers, former PMs, foreign royals and members of the Royal Family will arrive between 9.30am and 10.45am.
Just under 200 members of the armed forces taking part in the procession will also start to gather on Saturday morning.
Another 1,000 service personnel will line the route, but the overall procession will be much smaller than its equivalent in 1953 when other royal families and Commonwealth prime ministers were among those who took part.
The King’s Procession, accompanied by The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, will depart Buckingham Palace through the Centre Gate, and proceed down The Mall, passing through Admiralty Arch and south of King Charles I Island, down Whitehall and along Parliament Street.
In a break from tradition, King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will be in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach rather than the older, more uncomfortable, Gold State Coach.
It was created for Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Her late Majesty’s reign in 2012.
The King’s Procession will travel around the east and south sides of Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary, pulling up at the Sanctuary of Westminster Abbey, where the coronation service will begin at 11am.
The King and Queen Consort will be crowned at Westminster Abbey in a service comprising four key stages – the recognition, the oath, the anointing and the investiture.
The service will last for around two hours. The historic moment of the King’s crowning will take place at midday, and Camilla will also be crowned.
It will begin with King Charles entering Westminster Abbey through the Great West Door and proceeding through the nave until he reaches the central space.
He will be preceded by processions made up of faith leaders and representatives, and representatives from some Commonwealth countries.
The King’s grandson, Prince George, will be among the pages at Westminster Abbey, alongside Camilla’s grandchildren, Gus, Louis and Freddy.
Some of those taking part in the procession inside the abbey will carry the regalia ahead of the King, with most items placed on the altar until needed in the ceremony.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will place the St Edward’s Crown on Charles’ head. Trumpets will sound and gun salutes will be fired across the UK.
The service will include the first Homage of the People – a modern addition to the ancient ceremony. People across the UK and overseas realms will be invited to swear an oath of allegiance to Charles.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has stated, however, that the request for the public to take the oath is not mandatory.
During the anointing stage of the ceremony, the archbishop will pour special oil from the Ampulla – a gold flask – on to the coronation spoon before anointing the King in the form of a cross on his head, breast and hands.
The final stage of the ceremony is the investiture – when the King will wear St Edward’s Crown for the only time in his life.
The crown is named after a much earlier version made for the Anglo-Saxon king and saint, Edward the Confessor, and said to have been used at coronations after 1220 until Cromwell had it melted down.
It was made for King Charles II, who wanted a crown similar to the one worn by Edward but even grander.
When the service ends, the newly-crowned King and Queen will embark on their coronation procession back to Buckingham Palace in the 260-year-old Gold State Coach via the tried and tested route of Parliament Square, along Whitehall, around Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch and down The Mall, arriving back at Buckingham Palace at 1.33pm.
The vehicle was last seen during the Pageant of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2022. It was commissioned in 1760 and was first used by King George III to travel to the state opening of Parliament in 1762.
The coach has been used at every coronation since that of William IV in 1831. It will be drawn by eight Windsor Greys and, due to its weight of four tonnes, will travel at walking pace.
Other members of the Royal Family and thousands of troops will join in this much larger ceremonial procession – known as “the coronation procession”.
Charles and Camilla will receive a royal salute from the military in the palace gardens at 1.45pm.
Big screens will be placed in royal parks including in Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’ Park so royal fans can watch the day’s events.
More than 57 locations across the UK will have big screens, enabling more than 100,000 people to watch the events in their home towns, according to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
There will be a balcony moment when the King and Queen are joined by other members of the Royal Family to watch a flypast at around 2.15pm.
The six-minute spectacle will involve members of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, culminating in a display by the Red Arrows.
However, the flypast is at risk of being cancelled due to poor weather.
Royal Air Force Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston said “it’s 50/50” as to whether the event will go ahead, and the final decision will be made just one or two hours before it is due to start.
Forecasters expect conditions in London to be cloudy and wet on Saturday, which could hamper the ability of pilots to fly safely.
Who is attending?
Some of those expected to be among the 2,300 guests include US First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese vice-president Han Zheng, Sinn Fein’s leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and all his living predecessors – Liz Truss, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major – are expected to be there alongside cabinet ministers, leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer and Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf.
Others expected to be in the congregation are TV presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful and singer-songwriter Lionel Richie.
What coverage will be on TV?
Kirsty Young and Huw Edwards are among the BBC’s presenting team and the coronation programme, which will cover the lead-up to the Westminster Abbey service, the ceremony, the return procession to Buckingham Palace and the King’s balcony appearance, will see former Desert Island Discs presenter Young in a studio at Buckingham Palace on the day.
Edwards will provide commentary as the Westminster Abbey doors open to greet those arriving for the ceremony, with Sophie Raworth, Clare Balding, Anita Rani and JJ Chalmers also contributing to the day’s coverage.
ITV News At Ten anchor Tom Bradby, a close friend of the Duke of Sussex, will front coverage on ITV and STV alongside Julie Etchingham.
Presenters Mary Nightingale, Nina Hossain, Charlene White and James Mates will also be stationed at key locations during the six hour-plus broadcast.
What events are being held in Scotland?
The coronation will be screened against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle in Princes Street Gardens.
Physical books will also be available at the City Chambers and Central Library from Tuesday May 2 until Tuesday May 9 from 10am until 5pm.
Glasgow Cathedral will also broadcast the ceremony and concert to 1,200 people.
Meanwhile, Coronation Big Lunch events will take place across the country – including in Ballater, the Royal Deeside village that neighbours the Balmoral estate.
The most northerly event is set to be hosted in Scalloway, Shetland, on Saturday, where the island’s youth centre is the setting for a celebration featuring sea shanties, a hat dressing competition, stories, games and more.
However, almost three-quarters of people in Scotland do not care about the forthcoming coronation of the King, according to research.
The YouGov poll also found that less than half (46%) think that Britain should continue to have a monarchy in future, while 40% said it should have an elected head of state instead and 14% do not know.
The poll of 1,032 people in Scotland, carried out between April 17 and 20, found that 44% of respondents have a positive view of the Royal Family in general while 47% have a negative view and the remainder said they do not know.
Some predictions suggest Operation Golden Orb – the crowning of Charles and the Queen Consort – could cost the UK between £50m to £100m.
Yousaf: ‘It will feel strange attending coronation’
Humza Yousaf has admitted it will feel “strange” and “uncomfortable” to attend the King’s coronation as a republican.
The SNP leader said while he hasn’t tried to shy away about his opposition to the monarchy, he has a “duty” as the country’s leader to represent the entire nation.
Asked if it will feel “strange” to sit in Westminster Abbey as a republican, the First Minister said: “It will. I’ve not hidden away from my views – people know that I’m a republican.
“But I also said on day one as First Minister I will be First Minister for all, whether they’re republican, whether they’re pro-monarchy, whether they’re SNP voters, whether they vote for any other political party or don’t vote at all, I’m there to represent everybody in Scotland.”
Will there be any coronation protests?
Some anti-monarchy demonstrations are planned on the day, as the King’s coronation refuels an ongoing republican debate.
A protest organised by the Republic campaign group is expected to take place from 11am to 6pm in central London, when demonstrators march from Parliament Square to Downing Street.
Demonstrations are also likely in other parts of the UK.
STV special correspondent Bernard Ponsonby pondered this week whether the coronation is republicanism’s big opportunity, arguing that the monarchy now longer comes with an aura of mystique.