EXCLUSIVE: A secret replica of the Westminster Abbey Coronation stage is being built at Buckingham Palace so the King and Queen Consort can rehearse for the ceremony in a few weeks’ time
- Builders working on replica ‘coronation theatre’ for King and Camilla to rehearse
- They will learn choreography starting this week in the covert operation ‘Golden Orb’
A top-secret operation is underway in the Buckingham Palace ballroom to replicate the Coronation setting at Westminster Abbey so that the King and Queen Consort can conduct rehearsals in private.
Builders have begun work on an exact replica of the ‘Coronation Theatre’, in which the couple will be ‘enthroned and crowned’ in the ancient May 6 ceremony.
Rehearsals are expected to begin this week, with the King and Queen Consort learning the complex choreography that will be required of them that day.
The setting is part of a covert operation called the Golden Orb, which is designed to ensure there are no mishaps during the day.
A source said: ‘It’s a great company. The builders are working on it right now. It will be an exact replica of the raised stage or ‘theater’ that will be built in the Abbey when the King and Queen Consort are crowned.
GETTING READY: Charles and Camilla in the Buckingham Palace Ballroom
King George VI and Elizabeth are crowned in Westminster Abbey May 1937
‘There are many steps and many people participating. The Queen has chosen her grandchildren to be pages and the King will choose four young men from her side to act as her pages.
‘These young men, along with all the bishops, the archbishop and everyone involved, will need to rehearse away from the public eye and this seemed like the perfect way to do it.
“It also means the Abbey won’t have to close to the public during rehearsals so they can continue to earn income from visitors and not disrupt the plans of others.”
Closer to the Coronation date, the builders will build a stage with the same proportions inside Westminster Abbey.
The raised platform, similar to the one used by the late Queen in June 1953, is designed so that those inside the Abbey can view the ancient ceremony.
It is on this day or ‘Coronation Theatre’ that the King and Queen Consort will be enthroned and crowned with the world watching.
The ceremony will reflect the double coronation in May 1937 of the late queen’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, where both were crowned together.
Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in 1953
A noble gesture from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Charles meets Noble, the horse given to him by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The King received a horse from 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 feet tall, toured with the ‘Mounties’ musical ride in 2022, where he participated in 90 public performances at 50 different venues across Canada.
Raised and trained in the country, she was named through the Mounties’ annual Name The Foal contest.
Charles was said to have been “delighted” to meet Noble at the Royal Mews earlier this week.
The move follows a long tradition of Horsemen gifting horses to the royal family.
The relationship between royalty and force dates back to 1904 when King Edward VII granted the title of Royal to the North West Mounted Police, making it the Royal North West Mounted Police.
The Mounties gifted eight horses to Charles’s mother, the Queen, throughout
Members of the clergy, Palace staff, and government officials are sworn to secrecy.
The late Queen was said to have snuck into the Abbey late at night to rehearse for her coronation in 1953. Closer to the date, hundreds of people thronged around Westminster to watch the new Queen and Prince Philip arrive for daytime trials.
In the weeks leading up to the big day, Westminster Abbey went into full lockdown while vast bleachers 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.
Furthermore, a Palace source confirmed that the King was said to be “in an interest not to close the Abbey in order to deprive the public of space or the Abbey of revenue”. However, there are some elements of the preparation for 2023 that are borrowed from the past.
When the Queen was practicing before her rehearsals at the Abbey, she had courtiers mark out the shape of the Abbey in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace.
Sheets were draped over her shoulders to emulate the heavy dress and velvet robes she would wear that day, and she practiced walking with the heavy crown on her head.
This time, the King and Queen Consort, who have to learn the most complicated choreography of a double coronation, have done better.
With stairs built to the exact specifications of those that will be in the Abbey for the Coronation, the King and Queen will be able to perfect their footwork so there are no missteps that day.
As one source noted: ‘In the mid-70s and weighed down by crowns and heavy robes, it will be a feat of endurance. So it’s crucial that the stairs don’t come as a surprise that day.”
The King, who was four when his mother was crowned, is believed to be further preparing by viewing footage of the 1953 ceremony.
A source said the crowns would be used for practice with full rehearsals taking place in the coming weeks.