Charles III: The Coronation Year

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Charles III: The Coronation Year
GenreDocumentary film
Written byRobert Hardman
Directed byAshley Gething
Narrated byHelena Bonham Carter
  • Tom Kelly
  • Anne Nikitin
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
Executive producerNicolas Kent
ProducerFaye Hamilton
  • Graeme Dawson
  • Simon Young
Running time90 minutes
Production companyBBC Studios
Original release
NetworkBBC One
Release26 December 2023 (2023-12-26)

Charles III: The Coronation Year is a 2023 television documentary film following Charles III and Queen Camilla in the aftermath of the death and state funeral of Elizabeth II and the events around their subsequent coronation.[1] The film was broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on 26 December 2023.[1][2]

It was written by the historian Robert Hardman and narrated by Helena Bonham Carter.[3][1]


Princess Anne speaks in the film of her "sense of relief" as the crown was taken off her mother's coffin during her funeral, symbolising the culmination of her years of royal duty.[3] She also spoke of her mother's fears of difficulty if she was to die at Balmoral Castle, with Anne saying that "We did try and persuade her that that shouldn't be part of the decision-making process ... I hope she felt that that was right in the end, because I think we did".[3]

The film shows the rehearsals for the coronation, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, forgetting the wording of a prayer and Prince William joking with Charles about his "sausage fingers" as he struggles to tie a ceremonial robe.[3]


Reviewing the film for BBC News ahead of its broadcast, Sean Coughlan wrote that "It is a warm and sympathetic account of the new reign, with no glimpses of any difficult headlines from the year, whether about Prince Harry, Prince Andrew, a palace race row or protesters arrested at the Coronation. But it shows the King and Queen as a couple strengthened by each other, starting a busy new stage in their lives when most people of their age would be ready to put up their feet".[3]

Awarding it four stars out of five, James Jackson wrote in The Times: "What emerged overall was a private view of the Firm, but one that felt like the greatest plug a royal could ask for. No one could say the King hasn't earned it."[4] In The Daily Telegraph, Anita Singh gave the programme three stars out of five, writing: "The King and Queen, to their credit, try to put everyone at ease. The documentary is an extension of this: every scene is PR-approved and stuffed with people telling us that the royal couple are marvellous. Think of it as a glossy corporate film."[5]

However, the BBC received almost 900 complaints about the programme. This represented over a third of the "stage one" complaints received by the BBC from 18 to 31 December. In summary, the BBC said: "We received complaints from some viewers who felt the tone of the programme was overly positive."[6] Another reason cited for the complaints was "bias in favour of the monarchy"; the documentary was written by royal author Robert Hardman.[7] Graham Smith of Republic wrote of the programme in The National that "this wasn't a documentary at all, but a PR film that had no journalistic integrity and little entertainment value."[8]


  1. ^ a b c "King Charles III: BBC film goes behind scenes of first year". BBC News. 16 December 2023. Retrieved 16 December 2023.
  2. ^ Mensah, Katelyn. "Charles R: The Making of a Monarch". Retrieved 1 May 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e Coughlan, Sean (22 December 2023). "King Charles jokes about 'sausage fingers' with Prince William in Coronation film". BBC News. Retrieved 16 December 2023.
  4. ^ Jackson, James (7 January 2024). "Charles III: The Coronation Year review — the work behind the monarchy". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  5. ^ Singh, Anita (26 December 2023). "Charles III: The Coronation Year, BBC One, review: the Princess Royal's input is genuinely touching". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  6. ^ "BBC received 900 complaints over King Charles coronation documentary". The Independent. 5 January 2024. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  7. ^ "BBC flooded with complaints of pro-monarchy bias over King Charles documentary". The National. 4 January 2024. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  8. ^ "I'm a republican and this is what I thought of Charles's 'PR film'". The National. 27 December 2023. Retrieved 7 January 2024.