Briefing: Explainer – Coronation Service of King Charles III

The rich pageantry, sacred music and innovative liturgy will make the coronation service of King Charles III a profound statement of how the modern era meets a thousand-year-old tradition. Royal authors, the Rev Prof Ian Bradley and journalist Catherine Pepinster, were joined by Canon Prof Alison Milbank to analyse the order of service.

Their overriding impression is to note the centrality of the idea of service from beginning to end, and its very Protestant nature.

They discuss the historical involvement of non-Anglican clergy in prayers of blessing, including the contribution of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the first time a Roman Catholic has been involved in a coronation since the Reformation.

They talk about the significance of the presence of faith leaders, carrying regalia or offering greetings to the King, which is a significant break with tradition, reflecting the King’s long-standing interest in all faiths.

They shed insight on the oaths where the King swears he is a faithful Protestant and pledges to maintain the Protestant Reformed religion, both of which remain intact. Their explanation is that the Church, the Government and the Palace ran out of time to introduce the necessary Act of Parliament to change the oath to something more inclusive.

The now infamous request for the public to pledge allegiance to the King provokes polar opposite views, from immense scepticism to gratitude that the public is included in some way.

They suggest that the ritual, music and words may make this coronation even longer than the late Queen’s, certainly not less than two hours.

As for the long-lasting impact of the service on the public, they said this would depend in some part on how broadcasters shape their commentary. If they keep their counsel at the moment when the King is anointed in secrecy behind a canopy, then this would be a very profound sacred moment.

This podcast should be used in tandem with Catherine Pepinster’s explainer: “Order of Service – the coronation of King Charles III

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