London — The reign of Great Britain’s new monarch, King Charles III, began immediately when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died on September 8. But even a royal transition planned meticulously over the course of Elizabeth’s record 70-year reign has left some big questions unanswered. Many have started to wonder aloud, for instance, what the next period of British history might actually be called.
Themarked the end of the second Elizabethan era.
While it’s not yet certain how history books and even those living through it will refer to the reign of the new King Charles, who’s now 73, there has been a strong hint.
This week, British Prime Minister Liz Truss declared the beginning of “our new Carolean age.” That naming convention would follow a tradition set by King Charles II, who reigned over England, Scotland and Ireland from 1660 until his death in 1685. “Carolean” is derived from Carolus, the Latin version of the name Charles.
Before that Charles, there was King Charles I. The period of his reign is known as the Caroline Age. But the new king might be less inclined to follow that example, as Charles I was beheaded in 1649, during the English Civil War.
A coronation for the new king?
A coronation is the ancient ceremony in which new monarchs take an oath before the country and are formally crowned, blessed and anointed. To be clear, the ceremony is religious and symbolic, but not a constitutional requirement, and Charles III is no less the king for not having been through the process yet.
Sixteen months passed between the dates on which Charles’ mother, Elizabeth II, ascended to the crown upon the death of her father in February 1952, and her coronation in June the following year.
Plans for Charles III’s coronation are shrouded in secrecy, under the codename Operation Golden Orb, but it’s expected to take place sometime in 2023.
In keeping with the new monarch’s vision for a “slimmed down” monarchy, his coronation may well be smaller and less costly than his mother’s. But even a relatively modest coronation would still include and take place in London’s ancient Westminster Abbey — the site for all coronations of British monarchs for centuries. On the occasion, Charles’ wife Camilla will be crowned queen consort by his side.
Authorities in Scotland have confirmed that the Stone of Destiny, a 336-pound block of sandstone on which Scottish kings were crowned for centuries, will be brought to England for the coronation. The stone was taken by an invading English king in 1296 and remained in England for 700 years (excluding a three-month stint in Scotland after four Scottish students took it from Westminster Abbey before finally being returned to Scotland by the British Government in 1996.
Saint Edward’s Crown is also likely to make an appearance at the coronation, as it has at the coronation of almost every English sovereign for more than 700 years. The crown has a checkered history among Charles’ namesakes: The original was broken up by order of Parliament in 1649, during the same war that led to Charles I’s execution. The existing crown was made from the fragments for Charles II’s coronation 12 years later.
Since, it has been worn by each monarch only once in their lifetime, during their coronation, and at some point in the coming year or so, after his record-70-year wait, it will be Charles III’s turn.
Charles’ coronation is also expected to be a more inclusive ceremony than previous ones, better reflecting today’s multi-faith, multi-cultural Britain.
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