Charles and Camilla wave to crowds as they make their way to Westminster Abbey
No rest before the big day: Beaming Charles and Camilla wave to crowds as they make their way to Westminster Abbey – with just 24 hours to go until he is crowned as the world watches on
A grinning King Charles is back at Westminster Abbey with Queen Consort Camilla today before a busy run of diplomatic duties including hosting a Buckingham Palace lunch for VIPs later.
His Majesty and his wife smiled and waved to crowds as he was driven to the church where he will be crowned in 24 hours.
The monarch will be joined by working royals at a special lunch for realm prime ministers and governors general at the Palace from Midday.
The King, who is head of the Commonwealth, will also attend a Commonwealth Heads of Government leaders meeting and garden reception at London’s Marlborough House this afternoon.
King Charles III is driven from St James Palace on The Mall, waving to the crowds gathering for his Coronation
Queen Consort Camilla was also all smiles as she headed to Westminster Abbey with her husband
Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako arrive at their London hotel. Some 100 heads of state are descending on London for the King and Queen Consort’s historic coronation on Saturday
Huge crowds have gathered on The Mall, where people have been sleeping in tents or on the floor for several days
And on the eve of the coronation, the King and the royal family will host a glittering reception for foreign royalty and other overseas dignitaries at the Palace tonight.
Some 100 heads of state are descending on London for the King and Queen Consort’s historic coronation on Saturday, with international representatives from 203 countries due to attend.
French president Emmanuel Macron, Germany and Italy’s ceremonial presidents Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Sergio Mattarella and Pakistan’s prime minister Shehbaz Sharif will be among those in Westminster Abbey.
Chinese vice-president Han Zheng, who presided over a civil liberties crackdown in Hong Kong, is also on the King’s guest list, but the move has been branded “outrageous” by Conservative MPs.
Excitement for the King’s Coronation risks being overshadowed by a furious row about China’s involvement in the historic occasion.
Beijing yesterday confirmed it was sending controversial vice-president Han Zheng, accused of overseeing a brutal clampdown on freedom in Hong Kong, to attend the event tomorrow (SAT).
Lord Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, said China’s decision to nominate Mr Han to come to London for the Westminster Abbey celebration showed does not give ‘two hoots’ about the UK.
Meanwhile, The Daily Mail revealed today that Chinese-made surveillance cameras banned from UK Government departments will be ‘spying’ on the Coronation crowds.
Some 38 of the Hikvision devices have been placed across the parade route from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square, sparking national security fears.
Charles has a long day of engagements on the eve of the biggest day of his life
Hikvision has worked closely with China’s military in the past and British MPs have said its cameras have been deployed in Uighur internment camps in Xinjiang province.
The US Government has banned the company from all federal agencies, and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden ordered all Ministries last November to remove Hikvision cameras over security concerns.
Lord Patten said the decision to send Mr Han – and the Foreign Office’s offer to engage with him – reflects how China sees the UK.
‘It’s an indication of the fact that, however much you grovel to China, however much you try to give them face, they don’t give a toss about giving us face because they could have sent lots of other people,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme.
‘There are, after all, 1.4 billion of them and they chose to send the guy who’s responsible for breaking their word about Hong Kong.
‘If it wasn’t deliberate, then it shows how casually they actually treat us anyway. So, however hard we try to lean over backwards, horizontally sometimes, to accommodate their own political narrative, I don’t think they really give two hoots about us.’