King Charles III of the United Kingdom was officially crowned king of the United Kingdom in the first coronation in Britain since 1953 and the first to be ever televised over colour television and streamed live on the Internet.
Also, a prominent member of the royal family, a son of the monarch was not invited to join the Royal family in the front row at the row inside the Westminster Abbey as well as on the Royal balcony.
The ceremony, whose main highlight was when Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury placed the solid gold St Edward’s Crown on the king’s head to confer on him authority over the UK and its territories, was a ceremony with many departures from the traditions.
Though there were cries of “God Save the King” from within and outside Westminster Abbey with the traditional ceremonial gun salutes, there were some changes to the over 1000-year-old tradition in the coronation of a British monarch, 39 of which have been crowned at Westminster Abbey since 1066.
These are some of the other changes:
- More inclusion of the officiating officials and participants in the service. There was greater inclusion of female bishops and other women, people of colour and representatives of other faiths in the coronation service. These included Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Chief Rabbi of the UK), Ven Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera, (Buddhism’s Chief Sangha Nayaka in the UK), and Aliya Azam (education and interfaith coordinator at the Al Khoei Foundation). At the first parts of the coronation service King Charles was presented to the North, West, South, and East of Westminster Abbey with the Archbishop of Canterbury performing the first declaration while the other three were done by Baroness Amos, Lady Angiolini, and Christopher Finney.
- The 17th-century Sword of the State, symbolising royal power, was carried into the Abbey and presented to the new monarch for the first time by women. It was carried into the Abbey by Petty Officer Amy Taylor, who was selected to represent service personnel as a tribute to King Charles’ military service. The sword was then placed in King Charles’ right hand, clipped into his girdle, and unclipped and the king then stepped forward to offer it to the Dean, who placed it on the altar. Later on, the sword was redeemed by a woman, MP Penny Mordaunt, the Lord President of the Privy Council, who placed the redemption money on an alms dish, held by the Dean, by drawing the sword from its scabbard to be later presented to the crowned King.
- The British’s Celtic languages – Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic – featured prominently in the service. The liturgy of the service was in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic languages for the first time.
- Choristers participated for the first time also in the ceremony. The choir sang while a Greek choir intoned a psalm in tribute to Charles’s late father, Prince Philip, who was born on the island of Corfu.
- The coronation themes were carefully adopted to reflect the King’s interest in biodiversity and sustainability while the smaller congregation at the coronation service was carefully chosen to reflect the diversity of the British society, including ordinary members of the public to sit alongside heads of state and foreign royalty.
- The length of the service was shortened to around two hours long which Buckingham Palace’s sources said was deliberately done to “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.”
- The age of the monarch was a stark departure from the norm. Charles is a 74-year-old grandfather, and the oldest person to be crowned a British monarch.
- The homage to the newly-crowned King was slightly different as the royal princes and peers did not do an open allegiance to the monarch. At King Charles’s coronation, only Prince William, the Prince of Wales knelt to pay homage, swearing, “I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you and faith and truth I will bear unto you, as your liege man of life and limb. So help me God.” He acted as the representative of the royal family. There was also a controversial “homage of the people,” where anyone who wanted to recite, “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.”
- There is also a difference in the oath sworn by King Charles at least as opposed to those of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. King Charles III promised to “govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, your other Realms and the Territories” as against the oath of Queen Elizabeth: to “govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and other Territories.” This new oath is to reflect the shrinking dominion of the British monarchy.