(LONDON) King Charles III was crowned Saturday at Westminster Abbey in London in a Christian ceremony full of pomp and solemnity, eight months after the death of Elizabeth II.

The culmination of this consecration, prepared without much popular enthusiasm and marked by the arrests of anti-monarchy demonstrators, the Archbishop of Canterbury placed on the head of the 74-year-old sovereign the crown of Saint Edward, in solid gold and set with rubies. .

Dressed in a simple white linen shirt, the king had shortly before received the anointing on his knees, protected from view by embroidered screens, while Handel’s famous Zadok The Priest resounded.

He reappeared in the eyes of the audience and hundreds of millions of expected viewers, to put on the “supertunica”, a silk coat wrapped in fine gold coins, then the imperial coat, in gold cloth.

The royal stole on the shoulders, the white leather coronation glove slipped on one hand, a scepter in each hand, the king then received the crown of more than two kilos, used for all coronations since 1661.

“God Save The King!” exclaimed the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the first dignitary of the Anglican religion.

Trumpets sounded and cannon shots were heard across the UK or fired from Royal Navy boats at sea.

His heir William, kneeling, then swore allegiance to his father.

Camilla, 75, Charles’ second wife, was then blessed and crowned.

Charles III became King of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth countries, from Canada to Australia to Jamaica, in September on the death of his mother Elizabeth II, aged 96.

His coronation, unique in Europe, is the religious confirmation of this and the United Kingdom had not seen one since 1953.

If it has been modernized with a shorter duration, representatives of the main religions and gospel sung in addition to the classics, this thousand-year-old ritual has given the British monarchy the opportunity to deploy all the pomp of which it has the secret.

The King left Buckingham Palace in a six-horse carriage, raining through central London past thousands of loyal royals and a few “Not my king” signs, unimaginable under his mother.

He walked through the doors of the abbey wearing his grandfather George VI’s coat of state, notably followed by four pages, including his grandson George, followed by the Queen, in ivory robes embroidered with flowers.

Prince William and his wife Kate joined the other members of the royal family, including Prince Harry, relegated to third place and deprived of any official role during this historic day, a consequence of his departure for California in 2020 followed by violent criticism against the palace.

The king was welcomed as tradition dictates by a child from the royal chapel.

The Archbishop of Canterbury then proceeded with the “Recognition”, aimed at endorsing the King as the true ruler of the United Kingdom and 14 other states.

“God save King Charles,” he said, echoed by the audience.

The king then took the oath on the Bible before the ceremony took place in front of the 2,300 guests, foreign dignitaries such as French President Emmanuel Macron or the wife of American President Jill Biden, celebrities such as actress Judi Dench, representatives of the nobility , political leaders and representatives of civil society.

In a United Kingdom in the midst of a cost of living crisis, the event, with its golden scepters, sumptuous carriages and crowns set with some of the largest diamonds in the world, was prepared without much popular enthusiasm.

Another downside: the police, engaged in one of their largest security operations with more than 11,000 officers mobilized, arrested more than 20 demonstrators before the coronation, including six anti-monarchists and environmental activists who wanted to protest on the royal route .

“This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London,” protested Human Rights Watch.

If the antimonarchists remain very much in the minority, their proportion is rising within the population, especially among young people. Their presence was unimaginable under Elizabeth II, a sign of challenges for Charles III, an already elderly ruler far less popular than his mother or his 40-year-old heir William.

A large, joyful crowd adorned in the colors of the United Kingdom traveled from all over the country, but also from abroad to attend this historic event and see the royal couple and the procession pass by.

To be here is “to be part of the future.” It’s a crowning achievement, it’s an important thing,” enthuses Dave Giddings, 41, who came from Scotland with his wife and son to the Mall to witness the event up close, despite the rain. .

After the coronation, neighborhood meals and a concert in Windsor are notably scheduled for Sunday, before a holiday Monday.