London (AFP) – It will be the culmination of many religions and many languages.
King Charles III, eager to show he can be a unifying figure for everyone in the United Kingdom, will be crowned in a ceremony that will for the first time include the active participation of faiths other than the Church of England.
Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh leaders will take part in various aspects of the coronation, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Saturday, as he revealed details of a service he described as Christian worship that would reflect contemporary society.
The ceremony will also feature bishops for the first time, as well as hymns and prayers sung in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic, as well as English.
“The service contains new elements that reflect the diversity of our contemporary society,” Archbishop Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the Church of England, said in a statement. “My prayer is that all who partake of this ministry, whether they are believers or not, will find ancient wisdom and new hope that will bring inspiration and joy.”
The coronation ceremony reflects Charles’ efforts to show that the 1,000-year-old monarchy is still relevant in a more diverse country than it was when his mother was crowned 70 years ago. While the monarch is supreme ruler of the Church of England, the latest census showed that less than half the population now describes themselves as Christian.
Built around the theme of “They are called to serve,” the coronation service will begin with one of the youngest members of the congregation – a member of the royal chapel – saluting the monarch. Charles will respond by saying, “In his name and after his example, I do not come to serve but to serve.”
The moment is meant to underscore the importance of young people in the world today, according to Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The service will also include many historical elements that confirm the ancient traditions by which power has been passed down to new kings and queens over the centuries.
In the most sacred part of the service, the Archbishop of Canterbury anoints the king with oil, consecrates him and turns him away from his subjects.
It would cover Charles’ screen at this moment, and the anointing would not be visible on television or to most people in the abbey, except for a few senior clergy.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said: “When the screen that will surround the coronation chair is removed, the King will be revealed to all of us as someone who has taken on the responsibility to serve God and serve people.”
This would be followed by the presentation of coronation regalia, sacred objects such as the orb and sceptre that symbolized the monarch’s authority and responsibilities.
In another innovation reflecting Britain’s changing religious landscape, members of the House of Lords from the Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh traditions will offer the King objects without overt Christian symbolism.
Then the new king is crowned and the words “God save the king” are echoed in the monastery.
After Charles’s coronation, the traditional tribute to the peers would be replaced by the “people’s salute”, in which people in the abbey and viewers on television would be invited to affirm their allegiance to the king.
Camilla’s anointing would then be made, similarly to that of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1937. Camilla’s anointing, however, would not be hidden behind a curtain.
Congregants will also be invited to recite the Lord’s Prayer in the language of their choice.
Just before Charles takes the Gold State Coach in procession through the streets of London, leaders and representatives of religious communities will salute in unison. Lambeth Palace said the salute would not be exaggerated out of respect for those observing the Jewish Sabbath and being prohibited from using electrical appliances.
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