RIYADH: On May 6, King Charles III will officially be proclaimed as the UK’s new monarch in a grand ceremony broadcast around the world from Westminster Abbey in London.
“This is the first coronation that has taken place in my lifetime, my mother is 87 and talks to me about the coronation,” British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton told Arab News.
The ambassador visited the Arab News headquarters in Riyadh on Thursday to celebrate the coronation with Arab News reporters and the assistant editor in chief, Noor Nugali.
Crompton highlighted some of the ways people will celebrate the coronation in the UK and also detailed the festivities hosted by the UK Embassy in Riyadh.
“Most people will watch it live on television, a lot of people will go to London to line the streets, but I believe normally on royal events like this, big communities come together and have street parties and it’s nice to get together with tables and cakes and flags,and children running around.”
In Saudi Arabia, the UK Embassy will be hosting friends who have supported the bilateral relationship between the two kingdoms, and Saudi alumni of UK universities at a reception to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort.
“Obviously it’s a very big day for the United Kingdom and British embassies around the world,” the ambassador said.
Also in attendance at the UK reception celebrating the coronation will be previous Saudi ambassadors of the UK as well as Saudi businessmen and women that have a close connection to the UK.
The ambassador highlighted the status of Saudi-UK relations, stating: “The relationship is probably as strong as it has ever been, I would say that it is a historical relationship.
“But I think that it has become a very modern partnership we have, and changes like Brexit, you have an exciting reform program Vision 2030,” he said.
Crompton added that King Charles is expected to continue the legacy of his late mother Queen Elizabeth II while also carrying on his own interests and work in inter-faith dialogue, youth development, and environmental action.
“I expect there to be lots of continuity in terms of that we have a constitutional monarchy so part of the emphasis is on monitoring continuity. But of course, he will bring a slightly different style, he has some slightly different interests and I think everyone is looking forward to seeing,” Crompton told Arab News.
Among the continued interests of the king will be his work in promoting harmony and respect among different religions and cultures as well as his work in the Arab world.
“He (King Charles) has made seven official visits to Saudi Arabia and, of course, there is an old relationship between the two royal families,” Crompton said.
“King Charles has always taken an interest in the Arab world and in matters of faith and Islam in particular,” the ambassador added.
“He has always had an interest in interfaith dialogue.”
One of King Charles’s commitments has always been strengthening and building bridges between diverse faiths and cultures.
“I remember just before I joined the foreign embassy in 1995, King Charles did a famous speech or lecture in Oxford called ‘Islam in the West’ in which he talked about the sort of common heritage between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism which I think won a lot of appreciation,” Crompton said.
The ambassador imagines that the King will continue his new legacy along these themes while also adding his interests in youth development programs.
The coronation, set for Saturday, will be attended by many dignitaries from around the world, and thousands of Brits will surround Westminster Abbey to experience it.
As announced so far, King Charles’ coronation will differ in certain aspects from the late Queen Elizabeth’s, whose procession was 5 miles long with more than 8,000 guests attending the ceremony.
King Charles’ procession will be shorter at 1.3 miles and 2,000 guests in attendance.
When the ambassador was asked what he looks forward to seeing most during the coronation, he said: “We are fascinated by the ceremony, we haven’t seen it and sadly the late Queen Elizabeth died, and we had the funeral, so many of the ceremonies have been for that.”
The ambassador added that much of the pageantry during the late queen’s funeral were witnessed for the first time by people in their lifetime, and were an opportunity for the British to see their history come to life.
“We learned a lot, we re-learned a lot about our history, and that is something we are looking forward to,” Crompton said.