After months of meticulous planning, and what many have dubbed a lifetime spent in wait, King Charles III has been crowned as Britain’s monarch.
World leaders and royals hailing from other nations gathered at Westminster Abbey, London’s iconic monument, on Saturday to witness an intricate ceremony in which Charles and Queen Camilla were anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The coronation event was a show of pageantry that has long been synonymous with the British royal family; it saw the nearly 5 lbs. solid gold St. Edward’s Crown placed on Charles’ head to mark the role he took on when he ascended the throne last September, following the death of his mother and predecessor Queen Elizabeth II.
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Charles was the embodiment of luxury as he sat on the coronation throne surrounded by vestments that were used in the coronations of his ancestors. During the ceremony, he changed into a white linen tunic with a plain collar known as the Colobium Sindonis, which he wore beneath the Supertunica—a full-length gold coat. Camilla was crowned in a modified version of Queen Mary’s crown. Many British citizens have questioned how appropriate the lavish display—funded by the U.K. government—is at a time when the effects of the cost of living crisis are felt at large across the nation.
The ceremony aimed to capture the essence of multicultural Britain by incorporating many communities and faiths into its historically Christian traditions; in his capacity as U.K. Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who observes Hinduism, read aloud from the bible during the ceremony. Other faith leaders from Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, and Buddhist groups entered Westminster Abbey together to greet the King.
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The public mood in the U.K. was mixed. Tens of thousands of well-wishers gathered in central London to cheer the King on his journey from Buckingham Palace. Fans and curious onlookers lined the 1.3 mile procession route to catch a glimpse of the King, despite the typically drizzly weather of spring in London.
Yet just a mile away anti-monarchy group Republic led a protest against the coronation, which is expected to cost some $125 million in taxpayer money. Even before the ceremony began, police had arrested several demonstrators, including the head of Republic Graham Smith, sparking anger from civil liberties organizations.
As royal celebrations continue to unfold, TIME has selected the most defining images of the historic event.
Niall Carson—PA Wire/APCrowds wearing rain ponchos in the grandstand opposite Buckingham Palace ahead of the coronation ceremony of King Charles III on May 6, 2023.
PA Wire/PA Images
Dan Charity—WPA Pool/Getty ImagesPrince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales with Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte arrive ahead of the Coronation of King Charles III
Andrew Matthews—WPA Pool/Getty ImagesFirst Lady of the United States, Jill Biden, and her granddaughter Finnegan Biden arrive at Westminster Abbey.
Aaron Chown—PA Wire/APRepresentatives of the Commonwealth realms at the coronation ceremony.
Richard Heathcote—Pool/APCamilla, the Queen Consort, travels in the Diamond Jubilee Coach flanked by over a thousand Armed Forces route liners and The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry on route to Westminster Abbey.
Dan Kitwood—Getty ImagesKing Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, traveling in the Diamond Jubilee Coach, flanked by over a thousand Armed Forces route liners and The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry sets off along the Mall from Buckingham Palace on route to Westminster Abbey.
Aaron Chown—PA Wire/APBritain’s Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, front, Britain’s Prince Harry, center, and Britain’s Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, right, arrive at Westminster Abbey.
Jacob King—PA Wire/APPrince George (middle) as one of four Pages of Honour ahead of the coronation ceremony.
Andrew Milligan—PA Wire/APThe Prince and Princess of Wales arrive at Westminster Abbey.
Andrew Matthews—PA Wire/APKing Charles III inside Westminster Abbey on the day of his coronation.
Yui Mok—PA Wire/APPrince of Wales, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, the Princess of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh at the coronation ceremony of King Charles III.
Jonathan Brady—PA Wire/APKing Charles III sits as he receives The St Edward’s Crown during the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey, London, Saturday, May 6, 2023.