Operation Golden Orb: Inside the secret security plans for the King's coronation (2023)

From sniper marksmen to covert intelligence officers, the UK’s security forces are bracing for their biggest operation of the year.

The King’s coronation will bring together royals, foreign dignitaries and crowds of thousands, requiring co-operation from across the globe. Authorities have been working around the clock to secure the event, with officers drafted in from all corners of the UK and foreign security teams engaged in secretive negotiations.

According to one former royal bodyguard, preparations for the event – codenamed Operation Golden Orb – got under way immediately after the Queen’s death, but the plans would have been in place for decades and reviewed regularly.

So how can the UK’s security forces ensure the safety of guests and the public in front of the eyes of the world, and what threats are they looking out for?

Terror, crime and royal stalkers

Simon Morgan, who served as personal protection officer to the late Queen and other senior members of Royal Family, said officers would be preparing for potential threats ranging from royal stalkers to international terror groups and criminal gangs.

Renewed tension in Northern Ireland since Brexit, paired with the historic symbolism of the monarchy, mean that dissident Irish Republicans are likely to be assessed as part of terror concerns, along with Islamist extremists.

“Single issue” protesters will also be factored into security plans, from environmental activists to anti-monarchists.

The “Not My King” movement has appeared at the majority of the King’s public appearances since his accession to the thrown, while environmental groups such as Just Stop Oil – which disrupted this year’s Snooker World Championships, recently pledged to “step up campaigns in new and inventive ways” unless the Government agrees to enter talks to end new fossil fuel licences.

(Video) Operation Golden Orb: The Coronation Plan for King Charles III | ABC News | Video Lab

Mr Morgan said the groups would “want to use the world’s media, because obviously, this is a global event, to highlight their cause”.

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A man, thought to be linked to the anti-monarchist movement, was arrested in November after throwing eggs at the King during a walkabout in York. Police were criticised when people were arrested while holding or shouting anti-monarchy slogans following the death of the Queen, and have recently been seen leading protesters away from events.

Security teams will also be examining the threat from people who are “fixated” with the Royal Family, which Mr Morgan said was “massive”.

(Video) King Charles Coronation | What is operation Golden ORB? | Promo

“That is somebody who is fixated with, in this case, the Royal Family. That could be someone who thinks they’re the king, somebody who thinks they’re married to the King, somebody who believes that they’re in the line of succession and not King Charles. They are normally people who have mental health issues,” said Mr Morgan.

Some fixated individuals are already on the police’s radar, through law enforcement or medical interactions, and the UK has a Fixated Threat Assessment Centre made up of police and healthcare professionals. But others won’t be registered with the police and may still be planning for the coronation.

“Certainly in my time with the Royal Family, we had a lot of fixated individuals. Some of those are fixated in a positive way; they want to come and take the pictures, they want to feel the enthusiasm of the day. But there are also others then who wish to do harm.”

Criminal gangs will also be looking to capitalise on the event, from pickpockets to “organised crime, where people will be selling hotel rooms that don’t exist”.

Physical security and covert officers

London already has an advanced surveillance network which will help police monitor and act on possible threats. This includes triggers when discarded objects are spotted, such as rucksacks left unattended, and monitoring of population flow which can identify when people are loitering.

It also has physical security known as “hostile vehicle mitigation”, which are objects such as statues and barriers designed to prevent cars ramming into things around Westminster, where the coronation will take place, and was kitted out with bomb-proof bins in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

According to Pete Fussey, professor of sociology at the University of Essex, facial recognition and number plate recognition can also be used at large scale royal events to allow police to spot those who might seek to disrupt the proceedings.

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Armed police, including snipers positioned on top of buildings, are trained to take rapid action in case of an attack during the coronation, with armed response teams expected to be on standby. Ahead of the Queen’s funeral, snipers were pictured setting up on roofs around the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, and they were also in place during the 2012 Olympics.

Stuart Lister, professor of policing and criminal justice at the University of Leeds, said police officers would use covert operations to try to identify the demonstrators prior to any disruption.

“Mingling in with the crowds, such protesters may be very difficult for police to identify proactively. But large numbers of overt and covert police officers, supported by high-capacity surveillance and communications technologies, will be tasked with recognising and spotting potential protesters and rapidly suppressing the visibility and audibility of any signs of dissent,” he said.

“It is also likely that there will be significant police efforts taking place ahead of the coronation to build up an intelligence profile of any groups or individuals who might be considering protesting in order to debar or deter their presence from in and around central London on the day.”

(Video) Excitement building up in UK ahead of King Charles III's coronation | 9 News Australia

Plan blueprints and ‘tabletop exercises’

Much of Operation Golden Orb will be similar to previous security plans including those for the Queen’s funeral and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.

“When you look at this particular plan, a lot of it is used every year. There’s various facets of it that have been used before: we have Trooping The Colour, we have normally two state visits, we have various events at Westminster Abbey,” Mr Morgan said.

“You look at those and think: that went well, that could have gone kind of a bit better,” Mr Morgan said. “None of this has just been thrown together a couple of weeks, or the last couple of months.”

“These plans will be supplemented with contingency planning and hypotheticals: “What are we going to do if that happens? What are we going to do if this doesn’t happen? What will we then do next? You constantly have those meetings. You constantly have those tabletop exercises.”

Additional officers are expected to be drafted in from all corners of the UK, with annual leave expected to be cancelled. During Operation London Bridge, more than 5,000 officers from across the UK were engaged in ten days of ceremonial events.

“To certain extent, every aspect of policing in the Met Police and in the wider policing family across the UK is going to be there,” said Mr Morgan. “You’ve got uniformed police officers who will be lining the route; you’ve got traffic officers who will be dealing with road closures; you’ve got the firearms teams who will deal with any form of intervention; you’ve got dog section searching; you’ve got the CID [criminal investigation department] who will be taking crime reports. All these facets are going to be there. Every department will be there.”

The Met Police has remained tight-lipped about security arrangements for the coronation, saying only that “people can be confident that the Met has a policing plan in place” for the event.

Foreign dignitaries will come with their own security details, but the Met “have primacy in all policing operations” in London.

(Video) Buckingham Palace security scare days out from King Charles III’s coronation | 9 News Australia


What is Operation Golden Orb? ›

The event attempted to mark a new beginning for the monarchy, as Britain struggles with a cost-of-living crisis and the lingering fallout from Brexit and the pandemic.

How many people watched the coronation? ›

An average of 18.8 million people tuned into watch the Coronation across 11 channels and services, including BBC One, Two, ITV and Sky News. On BBC One, a peak of 13.4 million viewers tuned in to the broadcast led by Huw Edwards and the channel had an average audience of 11.9 million, the BBC said.

How many people went to London to watch the coronation? ›

24. A total of 8,251 guests attended The Queen's Coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

What was the purpose of the Orb? ›

The Orb is a representation of the sovereign's power. It symbolises the Christian world with its cross mounted on a globe, and the bands of jewels dividing it up into three sections represent the three continents known in medieval times.

What's inside the golden Orb? ›

The Orb shows Christian sovereignty over the earth. It was set with 12 large diamonds, 30 rubies, sapphires, and emeralds for the coronation of George I in 1714.

What is the most watched event on TV in the world? ›

Death and state funeral of Elizabeth II

How many viewers watched the king's Coronation? ›

The King's Coronation was watched by an average of 18 million viewers in the UK, overnight figures have shown.

What has been the most watched event on TV? ›

Thus, many of the biggest historical events broadcast on TV were, in fact, memorial services. Queen Elizabeth II's final farewell was the most recent and most prominent one. In fact, according to the media, with an estimated figure of 5.1 billion, the Queen's funeral became the most-watched TV event in history.

Can Camilla be crowned queen? ›

Camilla is a non-birth member of the royal family, so she will not hold authority, but she was crowned queen alongside her husband, the king. The pair first met when they were young and have walked a long, winding road to get to a point where Charles, 74, could call her his wife and now, queen.

How much does the crown weigh? ›

Key facts. The magnificent solid gold frame weighs 2.23kg (nearly 5lbs) and is adorned with semi-precious stones. St Edward's Crown was made for the coronation of Charles II to replace the medieval crown melted down by parliamentarians in 1649, after the execution of King Charles I.

Who was crowned king today? ›

Though Charles officially became king following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Sept. 8, 2022, today's coronation ceremony consecrated and celebrated his ascent to the throne.

Who created the orb? ›

Len Wein Ross Andru

Who can touch the crown jewels? ›

There are strict rules surrounding the crown jewels, and only three people in the world are allowed to touch them: the current monarch (that's now King Charles III), the Archbishop of Canterbury and the crown jeweler. For more than 800 years, the crown jewels have lived in the Tower of London.

What is the orb that Kings hold? ›

Like the sceptres, The Sovereign's Orb is a significant part of the traditional coronation regalia. The golden, jeweled ball, surmounted by a gem-encrusted cross, is designed as a symbol that the monarch's power is derived from God. As with the sceptres, it was created in 1661.

Is the orb real gold? ›

The Silver Orb is layered in pure 24-carat Gold and bands adorned with 26 genuine Swarovski® crystals The silver cross is adorned with ten Swarovski® crystals, silver beading emulates the pearls on the original.

What does the orb represent in a coronation? ›

That includes the Orb, which represents the world under Christ, and the Sovereign's Ring, symbolizing the marriage of a monarch to his people.

What is the #1 most watched TV show of all time? ›

Of the 30 most-watched broadcasts, 22 are Super Bowls, four are news events, three are primetime television programs, and one is a non-football related sports event.
Most watched broadcasts of all time.
BroadcastApollo 11 Moon landing
Average viewers125–150
Date20 July 1969
29 more columns

What's the most watched sitcom of all time? ›

1 'The Simpsons'

Since the beginning of its run in 1989, The Simpsons have had 34 seasons and 740 episodes, making it the longest-running American animated series, the longest-running American sitcom, and the longest-running American scripted primetime television series of all time.

What is the most watched series finale? ›

Most-watched American series finales

No. The most watched series finale in U.S. television history remains the 1983 finale of the CBS war/medical dramedy M*A*S*H, titled "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen".

What is the most watched television event in the United States? ›

Super Bowl 49, which featured the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, remains the most-viewed program in television history.

What is the most watched Super Bowl in history? ›

(The revised report regarding the Super Bowl LVII game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles also made this year's football match the most-watched Super Bowl in history with 115.1 million viewers.)

Will Camilla be Queen when Charles dies? ›

Charles has been king since the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September. While his wife, Camilla, was also crowned at the coronation, because she is not a member of the royal family by blood, she would not take over the throne if Charles were to die or step down.

Is Queen Consort a title? ›

She was granted the title the Queen Consort by the late Queen Elizabeth II in February last year during the Platinum Jubilee. However, her title first appeared as Queen Camilla when the coronation invitations were sent out.

How old is Queen Camilla consort? ›

LONDON (AP) — Now that she has been crowned alongside her husband, King Charles III's wife is officially known as Queen Camilla. While it sounds more official than “queen consort,” the changing of titles does not signify any practical difference in the role of the 75-year-old royal.

What is the heaviest crown the queen wears? ›

The Imperial State Crown is 31.5 cm (12.4 in) tall and weighs 1.06 kg (2.3 lb), and has four fleurs-de-lis alternating with four crosses pattée, supporting two arches topped by a monde and cross pattée. Its purple velvet cap is trimmed with ermine.

What are the oldest crown jewels? ›

The Honours of Scotland, on display in the Crown Room, are the oldest Crown jewels in Britain. Made of gold, silver and precious gems, the priceless crown, sceptre and sword of state are objects of immense significance.

What is the punishment for stealing the Crown Jewels? ›

This was a crime which carried the most awful of punishments: to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Blood was interrogated, but he said nothing. He demanded one thing only: an audience with the king. Perhaps curious to learn more of the man who would steal his crown, King Charles did indeed meet Blood.

Who is the next King to be crowned? ›

Prince Charles is presently heir (next in line) to the British throne. He will not become king until his mother, Queen Elizabeth, abdicates (gives up the throne), retires or dies. When either of these happen, Prince Charles may abdicate and pass the throne to his eldest son Prince William.

Who was the first King to be crowned? ›

Early coronations

The first documented coronation at Westminster was that of William the Conqueror on 25th December 1066. Before this year there had been no fixed location for the ceremony.

Which King was crowned as a baby? ›

Henry the Young King
Illumination of the coronation of Henry in the Becket Leaves (c.1220-1240).
Junior king of England
Reign14 June 1170 – 11 June 1183
Coronation14 June 1170
9 more rows

How was the orb secured? ›

The orb was kept steady by a small spike on its bottom that fit into a discreet mounting on top of the coffin's oak surface. The crown sat atop a purple pillow, a seemingly precarious spot that was stabilised by a firm protruding section on which the monarch's headwear was mounted.

Where is the gold orb? ›

FarfallThe player must defeat the splitting boss and continue to the right.
Sky TownA golden orb can be purchased from the shopkeeper.
StoneCastleRequires the player to defeat StoneEye and continue to the right.
The CurtainThe player must defeat The Ninja and continue to the right.
6 more rows

How does the orb not fall off? ›

The Imperial State Crown, scepter and orb were all prevented from falling when atop of the coffin because there's a mount attached to the casket under the flag. The mount was made by Colin Bowles, who holds a Royal Warrant.

How much is the Queen's crown worth? ›

Although the exact value of the crown has been heavily debated over the years, experts have speculated that it is worth between £3 billion and £5 billion.

Who made the orb? ›

Originally commissioned from royal goldsmith Robert Vyner for the 1661 coronation of King Charles II, the Sovereign's Orb represents the monarch's power.

How heavy is the orb? ›

The orb, which weighs a staggering 1.3kg, usually sits in the Tower of London as part of the Coronation Regalia and has played a central part of the crowning of monarchs for hundreds of years.

How many diamonds are in the orb? ›

Made of gold, the orb features 365 diamonds and is set with pearls, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and one large amethyst. During the ceremony, it's placed in the right hand of the monarch, before being placed on the altar.


1. The people against King Charles: how protesters are getting ready for the coronation
(The Guardian)
2. UK divided over public funding of King Charles III's coronation during cost of living crisis | 7.30
(ABC News In-depth)
3. London makes final preparations for King Charles III's coronation
(CBS News)
4. The complex operation of keeping the royals and dignitaries safe at the Coronation
5. Coronation Rehearsal: A Look at the King and Queen’s Coaches
(The Royal Family Channel)
6. Lady Glenconner Reveals King Charles' Crown Chaos & Shares Her Royal Coronation Memories | Lorraine


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