London — King Charles III’s coronation ceremony on May 6 will be a historic event watched by millions of people around the world — but witnessed in person by only a number of handpicked guests. While the final coronation guest list has not yet been made public by the U.K. government, some of the most recognizable guests have been confirmed.
The ceremony at London’s ancient Westminster Abbey will be attended by members of the royal family, foreign dignitaries, politicians and even some members of the public.
At the last coronation of a British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953, about 8,000 people crowded into the abbey to witness the ceremony.
The late queen’s son King Charles will have a significantly reduced guest list of around 2,000 people.
So, who got an invitation and who has been left out?
Pretty much all of Britain’s royal family have been invited to the coronation ceremony. That includes, of course, the king’s eldest son and next in the royal line of succession, William, the Prince of Wales. His wife Katherine, Princess of Wales, will also be there, as will the couple’s children.
William and Kate’s oldest child, Prince George of Wales, will not only be there, but will be the youngest future king — he’s next in line to the throne after his father — to play an official role in the coronation ceremony as a page. He will help usher the long train of his grandfather’s robe down the aisle of Westminster Abbey during the proceedings.
William’s younger brother Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry to attend King Charles’ coronation without Meghanconfirmed in April that he would attend the coronation, after weeks of speculation. His wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, will not make the trip from their home in California, however, and will instead remain with the couple’s children Archie and Lilibet.
King Charles’ siblings, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, are also all expected to be at the coronation ceremony, though British media have said Andrew, who lost his role as a “working royal” after settling a sexual assault case out of court with an American accuser, will not play a prominent role in the events of the day.
Prince Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, has confirmed publicly that she will not be attending the coronation ceremony. While “Fergie” and her ex-husband remain on good terms, she said on Britain’s ITV earlier this year that as the coronation is a formal state occasion, “being divorced, I don’t think that you can have it both ways.”
Members of other royal families from across Europe and the rest of the world are also believed to have been invited, which breaks with the tradition of previous coronations, when the British royals were pretty much the only royals in attendance.
Some British politicians are also expected to attend, but due to the reduced number of guests, only a small number have been invited. Current U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to be there, along with at least some of his cabinet ministers, and places have reportedly been guaranteed for former prime ministers, too.
Foreign heads of state, particularly those of key British allies and members of the British Commonwealth, have also been invited, including leaders from Europe and U.S. President Biden. Mr. Biden will not make the trip, however, having been in the U.K. recently. First lady Jill Biden will attend instead, and Mr. Biden told King Charles in a phone call in April that he hoped to meet with the monarch in the U.K. at a later date.
In a break from tradition, King Charles also wanted to invite members of the public who have distinguished themselves by serving their communities through volunteering or contributing to charitable work.
Julian Payne, who served as communications director for the then-Prince Charles, told CBS News that people tuning in to watch the coronation “will be looking at less of the aristocracy and more of the meritocracy, as those people who are serving the country are brought to the fore.”
More than 1,250 volunteers and young people have been invited to either attend the coronation service or surrounding events. Buckingham Palace has also confirmed that 450 “COVID heroes,” who helped the U.K. navigate the pandemic, have been invited to attend the service in person at Westminster Abbey.
“For the king, this is about duty and service, and those people who provide that role for the country should be there with him on the day,” said Payne.
Get a unique look at King Charles, as close friends, confidantes and ex-lovers share stories on the man behind the crown. Stream the documentary, “King Charles: The Boy Who Walked Alone,” starting Tuesday, May 2, exclusively on Paramount+.