Twenty million in UK tune in to watch the moment the King was crowned

Watch ITV News broadcast the historic moment King Charles III was crowned

The King’s coronation service at Westminster Abbey was watched by more than 18 million viewers in the UK, provisional audiences figures have shown.

Audiences peaked at 20.4 million for the moment the King was crowned just after midday, according to overnight ratings released by the research organisation Barb.

The coronation was broadcast simultaneously on a range of channels between about 11am and 1pm, including ITV News, BBC One and Two, and Sky News.

An average of 18.8 million people watched King Charles III and Queen Camilla's lavish ceremony across 11 channels and services.

Watch how ITV News covered the King's day of destiny

The figure is not quite as high as the audience ratings for the funeral service of the late Queen last September which was seen by 26.5 million people across more than fifty TV channels.

Millions of people are thought to have watched the Queen’s coronation on television back in June 1953 – but there are no reliable figures, making comparisons with TV ratings of today difficult.

Based on surveys carried out after the coronation of Elizabeth II, the BBC estimated its television coverage of the event was seen by more than 20 million adults in Britain.

Twenty million is still a remarkable number when considering the number of households with a TV licence on March 31 1953 – nine weeks before the coronation took place – stood at just 2.1 million.

With so few licences, and such a huge estimated TV audience, many people were likely to have watched the late Queen's coronation at someone else’s house, getting together with neighbours, friends and family.

As television was still in its infancy in the UK in the early 1950s and the same was true of the methods used to measure its audience, estimates of TV audiences cannot be compared directly with TV ratings as they are measured today.

The current method of calculating TV audiences was established in 1981 by the audience research organisation Barb.

The King and Queen watch the crowds gathered to take in the procession spectacle on coronation day. Credit: Lucy North/PA

How the King's coronation viewing figures compare

  • Diana's funeral: Since 1981, the highest TV audience on record was for the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales, in September 1997, which was seen by 31.0 million on ITV and the BBC.

  • Covid lockdown announcement: The King’s coronation also had a lower combined audience than the televised address by former prime minister Boris Johnson in March 2020, during which he announced the first Covid-19 lockdown, which was watched by 28.2 million people.

  • London 2012 Olympics: The ratings are also lower than the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which had 24.2 million and 24.5 million viewers respectively on BBC One.

  • England reaches the Euros final: The final of the Euro 2020 football championship in July 2021 attracted a combined total of 22.5 million on BBC One and ITV.

  • Platinum Jubilee: The King's coronation audience did overtake the viewer ratings for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee concert, which took place in front of Buckingham Palace last June, as it was watched by an average of 13.1 million people on BBC One.

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