Buhari, other world leaders gather in London for King Charles III coronation

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World leaders yesterday gathered in London in preparation for King Charles III coronation reception which would be the biggest ceremonial event to be staged in Britain for 70 years.

Charles, 74, and his wife Camilla will be crowned at London’s Westminster Abbey in a glittering but solemn religious ceremony with traditions dating back some 1,000 years, followed by a procession, resplendent with pomp and pageantry.

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President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the world leaders already in London for the event.

Royal fans have been gathering on The Mall, the grand boulevard that leads to Buckingham Palace, and heads of state and global dignitaries have been arriving in the British capital ahead of Saturday’s event.

U.S. first lady Jill Biden said on Twitter before leaving for Britain that “it’s an honour to represent the United States for this historic moment and celebrate the special relationship between our countries.”

She will be among the world leaders attending the reception at Buckingham Palace on Friday evening, which the king and queen will host along with other senior members of the royal family.

Earlier, Charles will hold a meeting of leaders from the Commonwealth of Nations, the voluntary associations of 56 countries, which he also heads.

The king is also expected to greet prime ministers and royal representatives from the 14 other realms where he is head of state, including Australia and Canada.

The leaders of Australia and New Zealand will pledge their allegiance to King Charles at his coronation on Saturday even though both are life-long republicans who do not shy away from making their positions clear.

Across Britain, preparations are underway for the first coronation since 1953 when his mother Queen Elizabeth was crowned. The king has even voiced announcements for the London underground network, reminding passengers to “mind the gap”.

Charles automatically became king after the queen’s death at 96 in September 2022 but the coronation, although not essential, is regarded as a hugely symbolic moment which legitimises the monarch in a public way.

Set against the backdrop of a cost of living crisis, some public scepticism and in a modern era when questions are being posed about the future of the institution, its role and finances, Saturday’s event will be on a smaller scale than the previous one 70 years ago.

Nonetheless it will be a lavish occasion. The St Edward’s Crown, which weighs about 2.2 kg and dates back to 1661 and the reign of his namesake King Charles II, will be placed on his head during the ceremony.

Monarchs from around the world will make their way to Westminster Abbey to watch the coronation after King Charles broke from a 900-year tradition banning royals from coronation.

Among the monarchs expected are Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene; Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Crown Princess Mary; King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden and Crown Princess Victoria; King Felipe and Queen Letizia, Spain; Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Norway.

Others are Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Luxembourg; Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and Crown Prince Pavlos, Greece; King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, the Netherlands; King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, Jordan; Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko of Japan; King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, Belgium; Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie, Lichtenstein; King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, Bhutan.

Reuters/NAN

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