5 Unusual Details About King Charles' Coronation

King Charles III is, quite literally, a born ruler. His entire life has been spent in observation and training for the moment the world will finally witness on May 6, 2023: His coronation as Great Britain's king. It's a heavy responsibility, and Charles will inevitably be compared to his mother, the late, beloved Queen Elizabeth II. But he has embraced his new role with enthusiasm, keeping up with an almost nonstop schedule of traveling, receptions, and official events. 

In less than a year, Charles has inspected military parades, planted a tree in his mother's name, made a state visit to Germany (and addressed a crowd in flawless German!), hosted the family Christmas festivities, given out commemorative coins at Easter services, and knighted legendary Queen guitarist Brian May. With everything that he's been going through in recent years, Charles might appreciate being allowed to sit on the historic King Edward's Chair for a few minutes while the church officiants at Westminster Abbey do their work.

The entire event will be filled with crowd-pleasing moments such as the royals' balcony appearance, at Buckingham Palace, and Prince George's first official job as one of his grandfather's pages. We'll also see some unexpected touches among the age-old rituals. Here's just a taste of what we can expect.

The decorations may feature this special flower

In keeping with the king's passion for both gardening and the environment at large, flowers are playing a key role in several areas of his coronation. The official invitation is lavishly decorated with the symbolic flowers of the United Kingdom — the rose, daffodil, shamrock, and thistle — as well as common British wildflowers such as bluebells, wild strawberries, and cornflowers. 

Expect to see plenty of floral arrangements and greenery on display on coronation day, whether it's along the procession route, bedecking Westminster Abbey, or at the Buckingham Palace banquet afterward. Among the flowers expected to feature prominently on the big day are delphiniums. The tall summer perennials, which come in various, stunning shades of blue, purple, and pink, are known to be one of King Charles' personal favorites. 

He once described them as being "magnificent [and] gloriously appareled," with "impeccable bearing and massed in platoons," according to Country Living. It's also probable that the displays will include other blooms associated with royalty, such as Lily of the Valley — Queen Elizabeth's favorite flower — and alchemilla mollis, the preferred choice of Camilla, Queen Consort. Also known as Lady's Mantle, it's a ground-cover plant that sprouts small, star-shaped green flowers. 

Ancient artifacts will play an important role

Although King Charles' coronation will be shorter and less ornate than past monarchs, some elements will remain intact. Among them is the anointing ceremony, a religious ritual that goes back centuries. As king, Charles is now the supreme head of the Church of England and defender of the faith; during the coronation, he will take an oath to preserve the church. Per Premier Christianity, anointing a king or queen with holy oil represents God's blessing and grace. The anointing will come in the middle of the ceremony, right before the crowning. 

It's traditionally done under a canopy out of sight of the congregation, but it's thought that Charles may allow TV cameras to capture the moment. For the anointing, the Archbishop of Canterbury will pour oil from an eagle-shaped vessel called an ampulla into the Coronation Spoon, with which he will daub Charles' head, breast, and hands. The spoon dates back to 1349, according to the Royal Collection Trust; the ampulla is a little newer, having first been used for King Charles II in 1662. 

Yet another remarkable artifact will be featured at the beginning of the ceremony. Pope Francis gifted the king two tiny shards of wood that are believed to have come from the actual cross on which Jesus was crucified. The splinters have been formed into miniature crosses and incorporated into the silver Cross of Wales staff, which will be carried into the church ahead of the king and queen.

The coronation oil is fragrant and animal-friendly

Not just any old supermarket oil will do for christening a king. The chrism oil that will be used during King Charles' coronation has a special connection to his family. The royal website confirms that the olive oil was harvested from two groves at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, one of which is located at the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene. The monastery also happens to be the burial place of Princess Alice of Greece, the mother of the late Prince Philip and grandmother to Charles. 

After the oil was blended, it was consecrated at The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem by two high-ranking officials: The Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. To symbolize "the gifts of the Holy Spirit combined with Christian virtue," as Premier Christianity explains, chrism oil is traditionally perfumed with sweet-smelling floral and spice essences. 

In Charles' case, the oil contains a blend of orange blossom, jasmine, cinnamon, sesame, rose, and other fragrant ingredients. But his oil is also notable for what it doesn't contain. In keeping with the king's concern for animal welfare, the blenders left out such typical ingredients as civet cat glands, musk deer secretions, and ambergris, which is traditionally harvested from sperm whales.

There's an official quiche

In 2009, Eden Project Communities, a British organization devoted to uniting local communities, encouraged neighbors to come together for a communal lunch. The "Big Lunch" is now an annual event across the U.K. aimed at creating connections and fostering goodwill. The date of the lunch often coincides with an important event, such as the late Queen Elizabeth's Diamond and Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Naturally, King Charles' coronation is the ideal time for this year's Big Lunch, and millions are expected to gather for picnics and block parties with their friends and neighbors the day after the service.

Getting into the spirit, Charles and Queen Camilla commissioned the royal chef to create a signature dish for the occasion, much as Her Majesty had a chicken entrée featured at her coronation banquet. The Coronation Quiche is a rich treat containing cheddar cheese, tarragon, spinach, and broad beans (aka fava beans). In addition to satisfying the king's fondness for eggs and cheese, the quiche was chosen for its simplicity and flexibility. If you want to try it yourself, the royal recipe is here

The savory pie is drawing controversy, however — and it has nothing to do with the old "real men don't eat quiche" cliché. Some royal watchers on Instagram are wrinkling their noses at the thought of beans being included. According to the Daily Mail, other Brits are also objecting to the new monarch touting a quiche at a time when eggs are scarce.

A Broadway legend's music will be featured

King Charles is also known for his love of all types of music. His official coronation Spotify playlist includes songs by Harry Styles, The Who, David Bowie, Coldplay, the Spice Girls, and Queen. The Coronation Concert on May 7 will feature live performances by Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Andrea Bocelli. Alas, superstar Snoop Dogg, who unexpectedly announced he wanted to perform at the coronation, has not been named as a guest.

For the coronation ceremony itself, the king has commissioned a number of new compositions from distinguished musicians both from classical and contemporary backgrounds. Among them is an anthem written by musical theater legend Andrew Lloyd Webber, famed for "The Phantom of the Opera," "Cats," and "Jesus Christ Superstar," among many others. He told the official royal website, "I had the good fortune to discuss the text with His Majesty The King."

Lloyd Webber continued, "We discussed the writings of Solomon and I suggested adapting Psalm 98 with its message of 'Make A Joyful Noise unto the Lord, the King.' It seems so appropriate to the moment in the Coronation service." The anthem is sure to be one of the highlights of the ceremony — even though, sadly, there won't be a chandelier falling to the floor afterward (that we know of).