RMC Briefings

Our weekly online briefings offer a unique opportunity to get behind the headlines, with a panel of speakers quizzed by our journalists

Briefing: The coronation has the theme of service… but is the concept outdated?

The theme of the coronation service is “called to serve” and it shapes the entire coronation weekend. People are asked to join their neighbours in the Big Lunch on Sunday and take part as volunteers on Monday in the Big Help Out to serve their communities. This idea of service is rooted in the biblical understanding of the nature of kingship, but in this Religion Media Centre briefing, the panel discussed whether the word “service” was too antiquated to mean anything in 21st-century Britain, and whether the religious root of the idea was lost in an increasingly non-religious society.

It was suggested that words like “service” can be seen as subservient, hierarchical, and even patronising. Instead, it would have been better if the King had said “we’re going to bring people together, and this is going to be the campaign for the next 10 years of my reign”. The briefing was told that the weekend of volunteering and neighbourliness is not one day that solves everything, ushering in a new glittering age. But it is hoped that it will act as a springboard for a future where people continue to get involved in volunteering.

Hosted by Rosie Dawson, our panel was:

  • Catherine Pepinster, journalist and author of “Defenders of the Faith: The British Monarchy, Religion and the Coronation”
  • Zaki Cooper, co-founder of Integra, a communications consultancy which is working on the Big Help Out. He previously worked for the royal household and for Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks
  • Martin Palmer, the CEO of Faith Invest, who has worked closely with the royal family
  • Dr Hisham Hellyer, a fellow of Cambridge University’s Centre for Islamic Studies, involved in many international forums on faith and politics
  • Dr Jagbir Jhutti Johal, professor of Sikh Studies, University of Birmingham.
  • Professor Abby Day, professor of race, faith & culture, Goldsmiths, University of London.
  • Caroline Diehl, founder of The Media Trust, Together TV channel, the Social Founder Network and Impactmedia.

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The coronation weekend has the theme of service … but is the concept outdated?

The coronation weekend of community volunteering and neighbourliness is best described not as “service” but as commitment to communities, bringing people together.

Read our report here >>

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