Secret replica of the coronation stage being built so that the king and queen’s consort can rehearse
EXCLUSIVE: Secret replica of the coronation stage at Westminster Abbey is being built at Buckingham Palace so the King and Queen can rehearse for the ceremony in a few weeks
- Builders are working on ‘Coronation theatre’ replica for King and Camilla to rehearse
- They learn choreography in covert operation ‘Golden Orb’ from this week
A top-secret operation is underway in the Buckingham Palace ballroom to recreate the coronation stage at Westminster Abbey so that the King and Queen Consort can rehearse in private.
Builders have begun construction of an exact replica of the ‘Coronation Theatre’, where the couple will be ‘enthroned and crowned’ in the centuries-old ceremony on May 6.
Rehearsals are expected to begin this week, with the King and Queen Consort learning the complex choreography required of them on that day.
The stage is part of a sting operation called Golden Orb, which is designed to ensure that no accidents happen that day.
A source said: ‘It’s a big undertaking. Builders are currently working on it. It will be an exact replica of the raised podium or ‘theatre’ that will be built in the abbey when the king and queen consort are crowned.
PREPARATIONS: Charles and Camilla in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace
King George VI and Elizabeth are crowned in Westminster Abbey in May 1937
“There are a lot of stairs and a lot of people are participating. The Queen has chosen her grandchildren as pages and the King will choose four young people from his side to serve as pages.
“These young people, along with all the bishops, the archbishop and everyone involved, will have to rehearse out of the public eye and this seemed like the perfect way to do it.
“It also means the abbey doesn’t have to close to the public for rehearsals, so they can continue to earn visitors’ income and not interfere with other people’s plans.”
Closer to the coronation date, the builders will build a podium with the same proportions in Westminster Abbey.
The elevated platform – similar to the one used by the late Queen in June 1953 – is designed so that those in the abbey can see the centuries-old ceremony.
It is on this slide or ‘Coronation Theatre’ that the King and Queen Consort will be enthroned and crowned as the world watches.
The ceremony mirrors the May 1937 double coronation of the late Queen’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, where both were crowned together.
Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1953
A noble gesture from the Canadian Mounties
Charles meets Noble, the horse gifted to him by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The King has been given a horse by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Noble, a seven-year-old black mare, is adjusting to life at the Royal Mews in Windsor, the palace said in a statement.
The horse, which stands 16.2 hands high, toured in 2022 with the ‘Mounties’ Musical Ride, where she took part in 90 public performances at 50 different locations in Canada.
She was bred and trained in the country and got her name through the Mounties’ annual Name The Foal competition.
Charles would be ‘happy’ to meet Noble at the Royal Mews earlier this week.
The move follows a long tradition of the Mounties donating horses to the royal family.
The relationship between the Royal Family and the Corps dates back to 1904 when King Edward VII bestowed the title of Royal on the North-West Mounted Police making it the Royal North-West Mounted Police.
The Mounties donated eight horses to Charles’s mother, the Queen, all along
Members of the clergy, palace staff and government officials have all taken an oath of secrecy.
The late Queen is said to have sneaked into the Abbey late at night to rehearse for her coronation in 1953. Closer to the date, hundreds of people thronged Westminster to catch a glimpse of the new Queen and Prince Philip arriving for rehearsals during the day.
In the weeks leading up to the big day, Westminster Abbey was completely shut down, while huge grandstands were erected inside to accommodate the 8,000 guests for the three-hour ceremony. That won’t be necessary this time.
Only about 2,000 spectators will be invited to the abbey for the coronation in May.
In addition, a Palace source confirmed that the king reportedly “did not want to close the abbey to deprive the public of space or the abbey of revenue.” However, there are some elements of preparing for 2023 that are borrowed from the past.
When the Queen was practicing for her rehearsals at the Abbey, she had courtiers mark the shape of the Abbey on the ballroom floor of Buckingham Palace.
Bedding was fastened on her shoulders to mimic the heavy frock and velvet robes she would wear during the day, and she practiced walking with the heavy crown on her head.
This time, the King and Queen Consort – who must learn the trickier choreography of a double coronation – have taken it one step further.
With stairs built to the exact specifications of those who will be in the Abbey for the coronation, the King and Queen will be able to perfect their footwork so there are no false stairs on that day.
As one source noted, “If you’re in your mid-70s and weighed down by crowns and heavy robes, it’s going to be a feat of endurance. It is therefore crucial that the staircase does not come as a surprise on the day itself.’
The king, who was four years old when his mother was crowned, would prepare further by viewing footage from the 1953 ceremony.
A source said crowns would be used for practice with full dress rehearsals to take place in the coming weeks.