After presenting Charles, 74, with the Stole Royal and the Robe Royal, the Prince of Wales, 40, delivered the traditional homage. “I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you, and faith and truth I will bear unto you as your liege man of life and limb, so help me God,” the Duke of Cornwall said before kissing his father on the cheek.
Guests at the coronation then paid homage as a group, saying, “God save King Charles. Long live King Charles. May the king live forever.” Prince Harry, sitting in the third row, could be seen saying the oath along with cousins Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.
The homage is a tradition where royal blood princes and senior peers pay tribute to the new king or queen by placing their hands between the monarch’s knees, swearing allegiance, touching the crown and kissing the sovereign’s right hand. The most senior peer delivers the words of homage.
While previous coronations have included multiple peers paying homage, Charles decided that his eldest son would be the only peer to participate in the tradition. As the Prince of Wales and direct heir to the throne, William is the most senior peer in England, so he was tasked with delivering the traditional speech of fealty.
When Charles’ late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was crowned in 1953, her husband, Prince Philip, delivered the words of homage, but he was followed by several other dukes who performed the ritual of placing their hands between her knees and swearing their loyalty.
Had Charles enlisted other dukes to participate in the homage, William would have been joined by his brother, Harry, 38, who maintained his Duke of Sussex title after stepping down as a senior working royal in 2020. The other peers involved would have been the king’s brothers — Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh — and the queen’s cousins Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester.
The slimming down of the homage is only one of many changes Charles made to his official coronation ceremony. For starters, the event was planned to last only one hour, while his mother’s went on for four hours. Invitations only went out to 2,000 guests, whereas 8,000 were sent for the coronations of Elizabeth and her father, George VI.
The changes are in line with what royal experts have said about Charles’ plans to streamline the monarchy following Elizabeth’s death in September 2022.
“I’ve had this extraordinary feeling, for years and years, ever since I can remember really, of wanting to heal and make things better,” the former Prince of Wales explained in a 2013 Time cover story. “I feel more than anything else it’s my duty to worry about everybody and their lives in this country, to try to find a way of improving things if I possibly can.”