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Will Charles III’s Historic Coronation Be Plagued by Drama?

Photo Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library / Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library / Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images

King Charles III’s coronation is fast approaching, but as more details of the big day are released more drama and controversy seem to follow. The most recent reports allege that several famous musicians have turned down the invitation to perform at a special coronation event scheduled for the day after the ceremony, while others continue to speculate growing tensions between Harry, Meghan, and the King.

Controversy and the Crown

The coronation of King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla will be held at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, May 6, 2023. The event will be the 40th coronation in the Abbey’s history since William the Conquerer was crowned King in 1066. The ceremony will be much smaller and more scaled-down than Charles’ predecessor Queen Elizabeth II, who was crowned Queen in 1953. This is a reflection of the new King’s intention to create a more modern and “slimmed down” monarchy.

Charles III sitting on a throne next to the Imperial State Crown
Charles, the then-Prince of Wales reads the Queen’s speech next to her Imperial State Crown during the State Opening of Parliament in 2022. (Photo Credit: Alastair Grant / WPA Pool / Getty Images)

Since turning 74 in November 2022, Charles III will be the oldest person to be crowned in British history. Following the ceremony, the weekend will be filled with other celebrations and events including a bank holiday for Brits on May 8th, a Royal Family appearance on the iconic balcony of Buckingham Palace, and a day of volunteering. A concert featuring “global music icons and contemporary stars,” hosted at Windsor Castle, will be broadcast live on the BBC.

As the special day approaches, stories continue to break about who will be attending, who isn’t going, and all the suspected tensions between members of the Royal Family. Will the coronation be the celebration it’s intended to be, or will it be overshadowed by drama? Here is everything we know about the rocky planning behind the historic ceremony.

Some of the world’s most famous musicians have turned it down

Scheduled for May 7, the day after the coronation, event organizers are planning a special celebration concert for the public at Windsor Castle that will be broadcast worldwide on the BBC. While the concert is advertised to have a host of famous musicians, several leading British performers have declined the invitation – including one with a longstanding relationship with the Royal Family.

Elton John performs at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert in 2012.
Singer Sir Elton John performs on stage during Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace on June 4, 2012. (Photo Credit: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images)

Several reports have claimed that artists like Adele, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, and The Spice Girls all turned down their invitations to perform at the historic event. Elton John has also declined, despite his decades-long relationship with the Royals – especially his connection to Charles’ first wife Princess Diana.

One organizer told Marie Clare that the King was “very keen” to have Adele and Ed Sheeran take part in the concert. Harry Styles, The Spice Girls – who split up in 2000 but were said to reunite for the coronation – and Elton John allegedly declined because of busy schedules.

Who will perform, then?

Luckily, other acts have already agreed to perform. Kylie and Dannii Minogue are rumored to appear as well as the ’90s pop group Take That, who are said to have kept their schedule clear for the big day. Musical titan Andrew Llyod Webber is also slated to perform, while other bigger acts will be announced closer to the coronation.
Lionel Richie and Prince Charles shaking hands in Barbados
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets singer Lionel Ritchie at a Prince’s Trust International reception at The Coral Reef Club Hotel on March 19, 2019 in Bridgetown, Barbados. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
As of publication, Lionel Richie is set to be opening the concert. He was named the first Global Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust when Charles established it in 2019.

Will Harry attend his father’s coronation?

Since the explosion of controversy over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Netflix tell-all and Prince Harry’s bombshell memoir Spare, news of Harry and Meghan’s attendance at the coronation has been hotly contested. It seems most sources are reporting the Royal couple have an on-again, 0ff-again approach and have yet to make a formal statement regarding their attendance.

King Charles III and Prince Harry at the Queen's funeral in 2022.
King Charles III and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex walk behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II at her funeral procession on September 14, 2022. (Photo Credit: Loic Venance / AFP / Getty Images)

It has been reported that King Charles has tried to broker a deal to ensure his youngest son and daughter-in-law attend the historic event. One report says that Harry and Meghan agreed to attend with one condition, and it all hinges on previous Royal engagements that took place after the couple left their posts as working Royals to live in California.

A source that spoke with The Mirror said the Sussexes will attend so long as the environment isn’t as “toxic as it was during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and funeral.” Harry and Meghan are also aware of the many security threats they may face in the UK, which means even any official decision on their part will likely be kept under wraps.

Others claim that since the coronation coincides with Meghan and Harry’s son Archie’s fourth birthday, which could be a legitimate reason why they could choose not to attend.

Camilla wants her grandchildren to participate in the ceremony

Camilla’s five teenage grandchildren, whose parents are the Queen Consort’s two children Laura and Tom with her first husband Andrew Parker Bowles, have been kept largely out of the limelight since Camilla and Charles were married in 2005 – unlike Charles’ grandchildren from his sons William and Harry.

Wedding photo shows Charles and Camilla with their children.
A photo from the wedding of Charles, the then Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, with their children (L-R) Prince Harry, Prince William, Laura and Tom Parker Bowles. (Photo Credit: Hugo Burnand / Pool / Getty Images)

Sources say Camilla wants her grandchildren Lola, Eliza, Freddy, Louis, and Gus to hold the canopy over her as she is anointed with holy oil at the coronation – one of the most important aspects of the ritual. This would be a break from Royal tradition, where Duchesses are typically used to hold the canopy.

More from us: He is the Third King Charles. Who Were the Other Two?

King Charles III is said to be very close to Camilla’s grandchildren, leaving some to speculate how the relationship differs from that of his own grandchildren; George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie, and Lilibet.

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and history content writer. After completing her Master’s in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada Elisabeth has shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter, and volunteer at local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her podcast The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to grad school.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially thrilled to share a love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

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