1 of 14 | King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave to the public below from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their coronation at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
May 6 (UPI) -- King Charles III and Queen Camilla were crowned at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday in a lavish, eye-popping ceremony not seen in Britain in nearly 70 years.
Charles, 74, who has spent his entire adult life as heir to the British throne, was anointed with holy oil by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Westminster Abbey, and after taking the oath of kings, was crowned by the Church of England's prelate -- officially beginning his reign.
Shouts of "God save the King!" rang out among a congregation of more than 2,200 people, including international representatives from 203 countries and about 100 heads of state.
During the 90-minute coronation service, the king signed a royal oath to serve the British people as the St. Edwards Crown was placed on his head. Camilla was crowned with Queen Mary's Crown.
In the oath, he promised to govern Britain and its 15 Commonwealth nations where according to the law and to "cause law and justice, in mercy, to be executed."
Following the coronation, the king and queen left Westminster Abbey to take part in the Coronation Procession, in which they headed back to Buckingham Palace along the identical 1.4-mile mile route they traveled earlier Saturday their way to the Abbey.
The huge procession began at around 1 p.m. with nearly 4,000 armed forces personnel marching in step together in one of the largest ceremonial military operations of its kind in a generation.
Thousands of supporters jammed The Mall, a tree-lined boulevard in central London, to view the procession as Charles and Camilla as they passed by in the ornate Gold State Carriage.
Once the entourage reached Buckingham Palace, the new king and queen twice emerged onto its balcony to wave to throngs of wildly cheering spectators as a military fly-by thundered overhead.
The festivities surrounding the first coronation in Britain in 70 years kicked off before sunrise, with televised coverage starting at 5 a.m. EDT on the BBC and all major American networks.
First lady Jill Biden represented the United States. She arrived in London on Friday. Ukraine's first lady, Olena Zelenska, is also attending.
Some 400 young people representing charitable organizations also attended, along with 450 British Empire Medal recipients.
Charles and Camilla were scheduled to appear on the palace balcony to wrap up the day's ceremonial events.
While the majority of British people still support the monarchy and believe it brings value to the country through tourism and trade that exceed the annual $130 million Sovereign Grant, not all Britons agree.
The anti-monarchist group Republic planned to protest on Saturday. Its chief executive Graham Smith told UPI support for the monarchy is falling.
"The fall in support for the monarchy in public opinion polls from about 75% to about 55% shows the tide is moving in our favor and even more tellingly that the public have made it clear that they're just not that bothered about the coronation or whether or not we have a monarchy," Smith said.
Charles' coronation is expected to cost about $125 million at a time many Britons are struggling with high inflation to make ends meet.
The royal family also has direct links to slavery through a 1689 financial investment in a slave-trading company. That racist history is a troubling royal legacy that researchers are studying with direct access to the Royal Archives provided by Charles.
On Sunday, a coronation concert will be broadcast live from Windsor Castle by the BBC featuring American performers Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.
The coronation "Big Lunch" is set for Sunday across Britain as communities share food and fun together.
Monday will be a national holiday.
King Charles III waves from the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London after his coronation on May 6, 2023. Photo by The British Ministry of Defense | License Photo