Guests in tune
INVITATIONS FOR SPORTS AND MUSIC STARS, CHARITY WORKERS – AND EVEN REPUBLICANS
IIn a spectacle befitting a scene from a Game of Thrones set, kings and queens from far flung kingdoms mingled awkwardly with powerful Heads of State, celebrities and commoners to pack Westminster Abbey. The Coronation’s unusually eclectic 2300-strong guest list had representatives from 200 countries including 90 world leaders to make up a colourful multicultural melange.
But King Charles insisted on diversity and inclusion for his guest list and was rewarded with a colourful ensemble where guests played a secret game of star spotting.
Some guests wore traditional dress of their respective nations, others impressed in military regalia and most dazzled withhorse racing style attire of spectacular hats and fascinators and smart suits and tails.
The 1000-year-old ceremony at Westminster Abbey was a smaller affair than Queen Elizabeth’s funeral last September – whichwas one of the largest ensembles of dignitaries in modern British history – and smaller than the 8250 guests for her coronationin 1953.
British actors Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Maggie Smith, Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson were present as was Joanna Lumley, a personal friend of their Majesties.
American superstar performers Lional Ritchie and Katy Perry, who were formally invited to stay at Windsor Castle overnight ahead of headline the Coronation concert, attended and sat among bankers, judges in their wigs, former prime ministers and current MPs, charity workers and knights.
Ritchie sat next to former
Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop, wearing a beautiful Zimmerman-designed dress, as they were both linked to the Prince’s Trust. She posted a selfie with the American singer as they entered the Abbey and could beseen chatting animatedly prior to proceedings.
British TV royalty presenters Ant and Dec (Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly) were also invited as ambassadors of the Prince’s Trust.
Australian businessman and philanthropist the baron Sir Michael Hintze, in his red Lord’s robe, secured a seat at the front of the peers’ section.
US First Lady Jill Biden, who had enjoyed an animated conversation with Catherine, the Princess of Wales at an event the night before, attended the Abbey with the status of a Head of State as she formally represented her husband US president Joe Biden.
It is a long-held tradition that US presidents do not attend coronations – perhaps related to America’s hardwon strugglefor independence 240 years ago – so Mrs Biden was there along with 23-year-old grand daughter Finnegan.
United States special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry was also there.
Other notable faces reportedly in the audience included David and Victoria Beckham, Stella McCartney, Andrew Lloyd-Webber,Rowan Atkinson, Bear Grylls and Spice Girl Melanie Brown.
Representing Australia, star international footballer Sam Kerr as well as comic presenter Adam Hills who chatted with rockerNick Cave about the “biggest show on Earth” as he encouraged those around him to play a secret game of star spotting.
“My top spot is Harry, looking forward to seeing Prince,” Hills said.
Cave was earlier seen engrossed in conversation with former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
“This is a proud moment in our national history,” Earl Marshal Edward Fitzalan-Howard, the Duke of Norfolk and England’s most senior peer, whose family have organised state occasions since 1483, declared prior to the service.
“This is also a time to remind ourselves of the pride we have in our great country and our unwritten constitution, which hasserved us so well for over 1000 years during our long history.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
sat among world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron.
Controversially Chinese vicepresident Han Zheng, who presided over a crackdown on civil rights in Hong Kong, was also amongthe dignitaries.
Tasmanian-born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and husband Prince Frederick led a long list of royals whose attendance continues a tradition spanning centuries including from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific.
Irish republican Michelle O’Neill, former deputy first Minister of Northern Ireland and Sinn Fein vicepresident, said sheaccepted the invitation, in a gesture of goodwill and “peace and reconciliation”.
“We are living in a great time of change … a time to respect our differing and equally legitimate aspirations,” she said of her invitation.
Also attending the Coronation ceremony were epresentatives from more than 850 community and charity groups.
Handel’s stirring anthem, Zadok the Priest, has been sung at coronations in England for almost 300 years