Why the Royal Family Kept out of the Public Eye on Monday
King Charles and wife Queen Consort Camilla, Prince William and wife Kate Middleton, and the rest of the British royal family were all notably absent from the spotlight Monday. The royal households had no scheduled engagements on their official calendars as they instead chose to mark the day in solemn remembrance, with Monday, Feb. 6 marking the late Queen Elizabeth's Ascension Day, the first since her death in September at age 96.
Born on April 21, 1926, Elizabeth ascended the throne and officially became Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms on Feb. 6, 1952, the day her father, King George VI, died in his bed at Sandringham House in Norfolk, England. At the time, Elizabeth was on vacation with her husband Prince Philip, in Kenya, and did not learn of her father's passing or her new position as monarch until hours later. Her coronation ceremony was held on June 2, 1953 at Westminster Abbey. Her Majesty served as monarch for 70 years, making her Britain's longest-reigning monarch, before passing away on Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle.
Monday marked the late monarch's first ascension day since her death, and the British royals chose to spend the day privately, Vanity Fair reported. Throughout her life, the queen traditionally opted for a more laid-back celebration, usually spending the day privately at Sandringham. A small ceremony was typically held to mark the special occasion, and Westminster Abbey would typically ring its bells. A 21-gun salute was also usually held.
The somber Monday event came just months ahead of another major event for the royal family: Charles' coronation. The newly-minted monarch's coronation will be held on the first Saturday in May — May 6, Buckingham Palace announced in October. The ceremony will be in Westminster Abbey and will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. While the ceremony will contain the traditional elements of a coronation, it is believed that it will be on a much smaller scale and be shorter than his mother's three-hour ceremony. When he is crowned sovereign, Charles will don the St. Edward's Crown, which is the centerpiece of the Crown Jewels and was last worn by Charles' own mother at her own coronation.
After the ceremony, the newly-coronated monarch will step out with other members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The following day, per PEOPLE, people across the U.K. are encouraged to get together with neighbors for Coronation Big Lunch parties, and a Coronation Concert will be broadcast live from Windsor Castle, though the performer lineup has yet to be announced. On Monday, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport debuted a new website dedicated to Charles' coronation, with a scroll around the new site, titled "Coronation of His Majesty The King & Her Majesty The Queen Consort," revealing details of the ceremony. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport also released a "Coronation Celebration Playlist" on Spotify.