The world has not seen a coronation in nearly seventy years but on May 6th it will happen again. Charles III will be coronated at Westminster Abbey in London. Of all the European monarchies, only the British still coronate their monarchs. Why is this event significant worldwide? What does it mean for the church?
It is a thousand-year-old service in a thousand-year-old church that has not been witnessed for almost seventy years. Full of pageantry, music, solemnity and dazzling jewels, its most important aspect will not be seen at all. Only two thousand two hundred people will be present but the event will be witnessed by 100s of millions worldwide. The event in question is the coronation of King Charles III, scheduled at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6 May 2023.
For over a millennium Britain has been a solidly Christian country. Some of history’s greatest men and women of God came from there. From its shores, the gospel spread worldwide. Its legacy of Protestant Christianity, the King James Bible, famous revivals and sound Bible teaching has left an incalculable legacy for the world. Yet a recent poll revealed a shocking statistic: only forty-six per cent of people in the United Kingdom identify as Christians – less than half. Church attendance is declining. A strong secularist impetus over the decades has contributed to this; cultural Marxism and the culture war have taken their toll. The wells of living water have been filled up by the Philistines. Like Isaac in Genesis 26, we fight the spiritual drought and famine by unstopping the wells of spiritual life. This means diligently seeking God and acknowledging what He has done.
The coronation of the king is not just a civic affair; it is truly a religious one and part of our collective Christian heritage. It is a proper Bible-based Christian anointing service, officiated not by a government official but by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
We need revival. If we recognise, respond, and celebrate our Christian heritage and its spiritual values, the living waters will flow again.
Coronation is a grand ceremony where the king is recognised as crowned with a literal crown (actually, two) placed on his head. It also recognises his role as the head of the Church of England. In a very real sense, the coronation inducts the monarch into the ministry. Though there are other European countries that have monarchs, only in Britain does the king get a coronation service.
The order of service, the words, rituals and symbols have basically remained unchanged since they were first introduced in 973 AD. They are a reflection of the values and priorities of the monarch. King Edward the Confessor, who reigned from 1042-1066 AD, built Westminster Abbey, which became the venue of the coronation.
Buckingham Palace has said that although the coronation will be “rooted in long-standing traditions“, it will also “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future.” Our goal is to focus more on ‘long-standing traditions,’ not any potential innovations
The King and Queen Consort will travel from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the ‘King’s procession.’ After the coronation service, the royal couple will participate in the bigger ‘coronation procession’ back to Buckingham palace. There will be a ‘royal viewing’ from the palace balcony with Charles, Camilla, and a chosen few.
Here are the main highlights of the coronation:
The Recognition: The Archbishop presents the monarch to the guests of the Abbey, approximately 2,000 in total (in 1953, it was 8,000). Their response: ‘God Save the King.’ (1 Samuel 10:24; 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Kings 1:25; 34; 39; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Chronicles 23:11)
The Oath: The centrepiece of the entire coronation. More about that later.
The Anointing: Ditto
The Investiture: Costly items encrusted with jewels are religious symbols. This includes Orb, the sceptre, the sovereign’s sceptre, and a white dove. After the presentation of these items, the Archbishop places St. Edward’s Crown on the head of the King.
The Enthronement and Homage: The monarch moves to a proper throne after leaving the coronation chair. Peers come and kneel before him in an act of homage.
After this, the Queen Consort will be anointed and crowned.
The Oath – A Most Christian-Based Pledge
The significance of this oath cannot be overstated. It is a solemn pledge before God and the people that is so solidly Christian that in today’s secular milieu, it comes as a surprise. Key points of the oath:
- The monarch pledges to the utmost of his power to maintain the laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel. There is nothing secular or political here. Even in a multicultural Britain, home to several main religions, there is still an acknowledgment. Former Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2011 that the ‘UK is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so.’ He called for a revival of traditional Christian values to counter Britain’s moral collapse.
- The oath includes a commitment to maintaining the United Kingdom as a Protestant Reformed Religion established by law. There is nothing secular here; the welfare and growth of the church is a high priority.
- The monarch pledges to maintain and persevere inviolably of the Church of England in key areas including ‘doctrine’ and ‘worship.’
- There are other key phrases but in response to all this, the monarch says ‘All this I promise to do.’
- The coronation oath should guide the Parliament, too. David Gardner, in his book The Trumpet Sounds for Britain Volume III, page 61, points out that the solemn coronation oath – to maintain the laws of God and the profession of the gospel – is not just obligatory on the monarch but also on his/her government. Quoting Lord Lauderdale speaking in the House of Lords in June 1976: ‘So no matter what Governments take office … they take office within the context of that oath and therefore in support of it. It is an oath solemnly given and solely subscribed by the Queen, at the instance, ultimately, of the State. It is binding, it is mandatory, it is categorical: and I ask the Government to affirm that that is so.’
- The crown represents the identity, unity, history, heritage and ultimate destiny of the nation and the family of nations in the Commonwealth.
- The coronation service consecrates, dedicates, and anoints the monarch for servant-leadership, just like any Christian minister. The implications of the coronation service and oath are staggering; the service is a dry run to the ultimate coronation at the coming again of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
- In Part Two, we will see that the ceremony puts a high accent mark on the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay tuned.
 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-63543019. Accessed 03-03-2023