A monarchy is never without a monarch. When Queen Elizabeth II died in September 2022, King Charles was proclaimed as monarch that day. But that proclamation is somber, as it takes place within moments of the death of the previous monarch, in this case, the mother of the current king. A coronation, on the other hand, is a joyful affair, full of celebration, and one that allows the new monarch to express himself.
The coronation will take place on May 6, 2023. Pubs in England and Wales will be allowed to stay open two hours later the night of as well as the night before the coronation. Even those who won’t be partying it up will benefit from the national holiday on the Monday following.
Coronations in England have been virtually the same for almost 1000 years, but this King has expressed a desire for a shorter, less flashy edition. For some context, the 1953 coronation of his mother featured 16,000 participants along a route that was 4.3 miles long. King Charles’ will feature 6,000 members of the armed forces along a 1.3 mile route.
Inside Westminster Abbey
After the King enters Westminster Abbey he is presented to the crowd by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury to shouts of “God Save the King” from the congregation, accompanied by trumpet blasts.
The king takes an oath to “govern the United Kingdom and other nations of the Commonwealth with law and justice” and to “maintain Christianity in the nation.” He is then anointed with oil and invested with the Royal Orb, representing religious and moral authority, and the scepter, a symbol of justice and mercy.
The Archbishop will then place the crown of St. Edward the Confessor on the head of the king, who will then leave the coronation chair to ascend to the throne, where the nobility will then kneel before him to pay him homage.
Why Does This Matter?
Every nation has rituals tied to the investiture of a new head. In America we too have our head of state process down the streets, though weather and raucous crowds can sometimes interfere with what should be a happy occasion. While it would seem that a coronation is for one particular individual, the reality is since that individual should serve the people under him, it’s really a chance for the people to see a celebration of their country and the peaceful change of leadership.
Every ceremony that any of us participates in that goes back for many years bonds us invisibly with our ancestors, those who have gone before. They might have been standing along the same routes, hearing the same sounds and music, and cheered and celebrated and clapped as we might. It’s the retelling of the human story, particularly when it comes to government, which is the expression of the individual coming together with other individuals to be something better in a group, in a sort of family, than they could be on their own. That project is never easy and never ends, but when everyone is committed to the same cause and purpose, it can be magical.
As former subjects of the British crown, Americans will do well to wish a blessed reign to His Majesty as he helps to guide his kingdom in challenging times.