The Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and The Queen Consort will be an historic event not only for the United Kingdom but also for the fourteen Realms, the UK Overseas Territories including our fellow Polynesian entity Pitcairn, and also for Commonwealth member-countries such as the Kingdom of Tonga. On 4 May, Her Royal Highness Princess Salote Mafile‘o Pilolevu Tuita and Lord Tuita graced a Coronation Party hosted by the British High Commission in Nuku‘alofa, together with two hundred guests, to mark the upcoming event.
As Tonga knows well, a Coronation is a momentous occasion in a country’s history, an inflection point. It is the end of the second Elizabethan era and the start of a new Carolean era. The Coronation will take place on the morning of Saturday 6 May and will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It will be held at Westminster Abbey, which has been Britain’s Coronation church since 1066. King Charles III will be the 40th monarch to swear the traditional oath of faithful service. Other historic elements will include ceremonial robes, a golden orb and sceptre and the 700-year old Coronation Chair, a throne which sits above the ‘Stone of Destiny’ used to inaugurate Scottish Kings. The King will be crowned with the solid gold St Edward's Crown, originally made for King Charles II in 1661 and decorated with 444 precious stones including rubies, amethysts and sapphires. It is so heavy that the monarch will only wear it briefly at the moment of coronation.
The Ceremony is a solemn religious service that has been held at Westminster Abbey for the last 900 years. The Coronation reflects the Monarch’s role today and looks towards the future, while being rooted in long standing traditions and pageantry. But the Coronation on Saturday will also reflect other changes in the UK over the last 70 years. It will showcase the modern, diverse, multi-faith United Kingdom and particularly promote the themes of youth, community, diversity, and sustainability, all passions of King Charles.
Leaders from the around the globe will attend the Coronation Ceremony, the first since 1953. The United Kingdom is deeply honoured that Their Majesties King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau‘u are gracing the occasion with their presence. Tonga may remember very well, 70 years ago, when her renowned Head of State, The Late Queen Salote III attended, she and Queen Elizabeth II were the only two female heads of state present that day. Her presence remains the defining image and story about Tonga for the UK generation of that time. They saw Queen Salote III, forgoing the carriage hood and braving the torrential rain to wave at the crowds, a Tongan sign of respect in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Given how the UK likes to talk about the weather, gestures like that are never forgotten! Her solidarity is a reminder of the close and enduring ties between Tonga and the United Kingdom.
On the morning of the 6 May, Their Majesties will travel from Buckingham Palace in The King’s Procession to Westminster Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, created for Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Her late Majesty’s reign in 2012.
Their Majesties will return to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach. The coach, last seen during the Pageant of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2022, 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. The coach will be drawn by eight Windsor Greys and, due to its weight of four tonnes, will travel at walking pace.
The Coronation Procession will include Armed Forces from across the Commonwealth and the British Overseas Territories, and all Services of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom. Four representatives from Tonga, of His Majesty’s Armed Forces will be proudly marching with 7,000 other British and Commonwealth countries in the Coronation Parade.
We wish their Majesties a wonderful day, and to His Majesty King Charles, a long, glorious and happy reign - Long Live King Charles!