London (CNN) More than 20 million people in the UK tuned in to watch the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday, but the ceremony drew far fewer UK viewers than his mother’s funeral last year.
Average audience figures for the two-hour service at Westminster Abbey – the main part of the Saturday ceremony in which the King was crowned – reached 18.8million, according to data provided by the UK Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (Barb).
The rainy day kicked off with King Charles III and Queen Camilla traveling from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. Watched by cheering and waving crowds, the couple rode in the six-horse-drawn Diamond Jubilee State Coach. The coach was built in 2012 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
According to Barb, who analyzed viewership figures from 11 TV channels and services, viewership peaked at 20.4 million just after midday when the King received his crown.
The BBC took by far the largest share, with audiences on its BBC One and Two channels peaking at around 15 million, according to figures released by the UK public broadcaster.
According to UK media, UK media reported peak viewership was 9 million below the number recorded for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, while BBC viewership was down around 5 million from to the 20 million who tuned in to BBC One for that service last September.
In 1953, more than 20 million people attended the late Queen’s coronation, according to estimates based on BBC surveys at the time. Cameras were installed at Westminster Abbey for the first time to cover the coronation, which the BBC described as the UK’s first mass TV event.
Charles III’s coronation also underperformed compared to his eldest son’s wedding in 2011. Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding drew a peak BBC audience of 20 million, after of the ceremony at Westminster Abbey, according to the broadcaster.
Dozens of foreign dignitaries, British officials, celebrities and religious leaders gathered in the abbey for Saturday’s coronation. Yet the congregation of 2,300 was much smaller than in 1953, when temporary structures had to be erected to accommodate the more than 8,000 people who attended.
After the service, 4,000 members of the armed forces, accompanied by 19 bands, took part in the largest British military procession for 70 years, cheered on by thousands of spectators.
Some anti-monarchy protesters turned out to protest Saturday’s coronation. London’s Metropolitan Police said they arrested a total of 64 people on Saturday for various offenses including “conspiracy to cause public nuisance” and “undermining the peace”. Four of those arrested have been charged with a misdemeanor.
Republic, Britain’s largest anti-monarchy group, told CNN on Saturday that police arrested protest organizers without giving a reason. The group said in a tweet on Monday that the “protest has been scaled down to protect the King’s image” and called the arrests “an absolute disgrace”.
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— Duarte Mendonca contributed reporting.