King Charles' Coronation through the eyes of Reuters photographers
Arriving before dawn ready to stand for many hours in crowds and pouring rain, Reuters photographers used ample time and quick instincts to cover the coronation of King Charles III.
Below is a selection of some exceptional Reuters pictures taken during this historic event along with the stories behind the shots, directly from the photographers who took them.
“This was a big event but everything was so organized. There were no spectators around Westminster so maybe that was the reason. I’ve never covered an event like this. It was a very rare moment in history. I was excited as I was in a photo position where I could see King Charles wearing the crown right after exiting Westminster. A lot of people obstructed my view. I moved around in the media stand to try to get a shot of both inside and outside of the carriage. To make it harder, It was raining and a lot of umbrellas hit me in the face. Camilla raised her hand and started to wave - I was lucky to capture this photo of the newly crowned King and Queen together.”
“I am from Ireland but I have covered several royal events before. I arrived at my position on the Queen Victoria Monument facing the mall at 5.30am. We had many hours to wait for the coronation to begin. In the meantime, there was a lot of activity with the police and Coldstream Guards getting into position and lining the route. The weather had forecast rain, but the mild, warm morning offered a false sense that things might be okay. Almost, as if by appointment, torrential rain arrived to add to the challenges of the day. The reflection on the window of the carriage and the raindrops made the camera focus bounce constantly. Charles passed me four times and each time I saw him, he didn’t look terribly happy.”
“I was fortunate enough to have photographed the queen’s funeral from the same position, so I had an idea about which lenses I would need and how I could file the pictures. With rain forecast all day, I was grateful to be inside. These events are planned with precision. Sometimes though, this information doesn’t always filter through to the photographers. When the crown was being carried, we had no idea they would walk directly below us. I had to remain calm and react quickly to adjust my camera exposure as it was dark beneath us. I was more concerned about not dropping my camera as I peered down to take a shot. In the UK we photograph plenty of royal events, but none of us has ever photographed a coronation. It was a privilege to be there.”
“I woke up super early, spent all day in the rain, and put on a suit that I haven’t worn since before the pandemic. It was supposed to be spring but it still felt super cold. I like taking pictures in the pouring rain – there is something about the combination of raindrops, the sunlight, the slightly charged atmosphere that comes together, especially on days like today. It creates a certain mood and feel. Here’s a photograph of Prince Harry, being shielded by the rain as he arrived for the coronation ceremony. Who doesn’t want to know what he’s thinking?”
“In the UK, we rarely see Charles in public settings with his grandchildren, but as he arrived at Westminster Abbey, he was assisted by his eldest grandson, Prince George. They shared a brief glance and a smile as Charles stepped out of the carriage.
When shooting British royal parades, I look for patterns and symmetry to create strong graphic pictures. This group of Coldstream Guards marching past Westminster Abbey was reminiscent of other royal events. However, the single soldier wearing a turban amongst the sea of others broke the symmetry and immediately stood out as a unique picture from the coronation procession.”
“I had a position at Parliament square just in front of the Churchill monument, looking towards Big Ben.
The square was closed for the public, so it felt strange compared to my last assignment in London when I was covering the queen’s funeral. Then I was standing among tens of thousands of people. It was different from the royal wedding of Megan and Harry which seemed a much bigger event. I arrived at my position around 4:50 a.m. and left at 2 p.m. (nine hours). Most of the time I could only hear rain pouring on the empty streets, and occasionally soldiers marching and shouting commands.
I was surprised by the looks and the size of the carriage when it passed, with King Charles and Queen Camilla looking through the window.”
“I was opposite the main west door of Westminster Abbey in London for the coronation of King Charles III. Almost none of the elements that I expected came together.
The key photo of the newly crowned king walking out of Westminster Abbey in front of or beside Queen Camilla, also wearing a crown, could have been a clean, uncluttered visual moment. However, as the doors opened, mounted ceremonial cavalry assembled right in front of me. Then, the gold state carriage completely blocked the main entrance. Finally, Queen Camilla and her entourage led the procession out of Westminster Abbey, with King Charles in a secondary position behind her, completely blocked from view. All I could do was lean as far to the left as I could on my portable steps. I hand-held my camera with the 600mm lens, and photographed through the windows of the state carriage.”
“Having spent Saturdays photographing football for the last 17 years, photographing the coronation was something completely new to me. However, some things never change. Every picture I took today was filled with people in high visibility jackets and I spent many hours getting soaked to the bone from the rain – just like in football coverage. The balcony picture is a simple picture, but it’s also one that you spend hours wondering which lens to use. I worried all week about encountering a heat haze that could come off the crowd and make a straightforward picture nearly impossible to take. However, the British weather stayed true to form, and the hours I spent sitting in the rain eventually paid off with the photos I took. Clothes will dry off, but unfocused pictures will always be out of focus.”
Violeta Santos Moura
“My day started before 5 a.m. This was the first time I had covered an event of this scale. I stood in my photo position for nine hours. I wanted to include the royal procession and the protesters in the same frame, but I realized that the photo would not be as effective compositionally if I tried to include the whole carriage in the frame. So, I used my telephoto lens and zoomed in to the royal guards in the foreground of the picture. The crowd and protesters in the background resulted in this juxtaposition with the layering of elements. Later in the day, I was crossing the Golden Jubilee Bridges when I saw the crowds gathering and looking up to the sky. I dropped my backpacks and photo equipment, pointed my camera upwards and took a photo of the jets flying past.”
“The last twelve months have been pretty busy with royal events – Queen Elizabeth II’s death and the Diamond Jubilee – so it just felt like another day at work for me. However, I’m sure in 50 years when I look back, I’ll have forgotten about the rain, the 4am wake-up call, and the pungent portable toilet I was positioned next to for 10 hours, and reflect on how cool it was to witness this historic day.
The photograph of Prince George surrounded by the other page boys on the balcony of Buckingham Palace was taken during the fly past. As I was photographing, I could see them gesturing like cheeky schoolboys and it reminded me of when Prince Louis stole the show during the Diamond Jubilee.”
Piroschka van de Wouw
“I was surprised to see that the crowd had already gathered by 5.15am at Trafalgar Square. I could feel the excitement of the people. Some supporters were dressed in the Union Jack colours while other protesters chanted “Not my King!” I am from The Netherlands and covering this event felt a bit like Dutch King's day when we celebrate the Dutch king’s birthday. Everybody gathers on the streets and it feels like one big warm community celebrating together. I enjoyed it very much and working with the Reuters team was great!”
“As a Belgian citizen working in France, observing British people’s interest in the Royal family at this event has been very interesting to me. I was touched by this woman who began singing ‘God Save the King’ when the king received his crown. She was very involved in her singing, and to me, it represented the mood and atmosphere that filled the Mall at that moment. The atmosphere was so joyous and people were talking to each other as if they had known each other for a long time. At the end, they were hugging each other, thanking each other for sharing the moment together.”
“This experience was beyond anything I could have expected. It was different from previous jobs that I have covered in its historical significance.
I wasn’t surprised to see so many Royal fans. I am Italian, but one thing surprised me was the number of young people that were there in the crowds.
This picture shows young people waving flags enthusiastically despite the bad weather. For me this picture is a kind of summary of passing years, but at the same time the proof of how a passion for something can be passed on and inherited by a younger generation.”
“I had been assigned to roam amongst the crowds and capture some images of the coronation procession away from official media vantage points. This picture was taken after the king passed by on the way to Westminster Abbey. People needed to remain in their positions to be able to see his return to Buckingham Palace, along the same route, after being proclaimed king. I noticed these people behind me, sheltering from the rain against the wall of a cafe – tired and damp but engrossed in the television feed of the ceremony taking place just down the road. London is home to me. I covered the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II last year – an event which also attracted huge crowds, but with a very different, somber atmosphere.”
“I’ve been shooting pictures on The Mall since 1981. Fast forward 42 years. I arrived at the same place at around 4am and it was already bustling with people. I immediately felt that this event was going to be very special. The lady standing on the stool was one of the early arrivals. The royal fans act a bit like holiday makers in the way they mark their territory. Instead of beach towels and windbreakers, the royal fans use picnic blankets and plastic stools to get a good view. This lady stepped up onto her stool and looked to the left and the right, perhaps to see if she was going to get a good view of the procession, or maybe she was looking for the people she was with. I hope she got to see the king.
I’m normally focused on photographing the crowds. A guy with a cowboy hat came into view just a few minutes before the Red Arrows flew over us. The jets initially looked as if they were coming quite slowly, but it’s deceiving. You need to react fast with your camera. I didn’t expect to hear so much whooping and cheering as the planes flew over us.”
“Seeing all these people coming from all over the world, their excitement, made me curious about the history of the UK. It made me want to walk around and ask people where they are from and what drew them here, especially if they travelled far. It wasn’t just about taking pictures, but simply my curiosity.
People enjoyed being photographed in the rain. They were happy and proud to take part in this celebration. It's never easy to take pictures of people. But in this instance, I felt like I wanted to stay on and continue photographing the crowds.
I have never done something like this, and I found it very stressful because this was a historic event. To be able to be part of this photo coverage team on this special day felt pretty cool.”
The Wider Image
Writing: Daniel Wallis and Maye-E Wong
Photo editing: Maye-E Wong and Lucy Nicholson
Text editing: Lucy Nicholson
Design: Marta Montana Gomez