King Charles’s coronation sets the stage for a bright future for the monarchy
King Charles III waited for 70 years, 214 days before shedding the unwanted title of the longest-ever heir apparent to the British throne. His transition since last September has been very smooth, and his coronation this past weekend with Queen Camilla was well received.
Now comes the difficult part.
The oldest person to become a British monarch has earned respect but doesn’t generate as enthusiastic a response as other Royal Family members like Prince William and Princess Kate. He’s following the important legacy set by his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, but walks in her shadow. Despite all this, he must ensure that the institution’s history, tradition and future are preserved and protected, not only during his reign but for all future reigns.
To Charles III’s credit, he’s determined to make this happen.
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The May 6 coronation, which was watched by more people than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 wedding, was a testament to his long-standing goal of protecting the monarchy’s ancient traditions while bringing it into modern Britain. As the Order of Service clearly stated, it would “reflect the diversity of the United Kingdom and its peoples, in striking contrast to seventy years ago.”
One notable example was the historic inclusion of faith leaders from different world religions, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Some were involved in the opening and closing moments. Others played small roles in the coronation itself. A small group of faith leaders said this passage in unison to the newly-crowned King at Westminster Abbey, “Our Majesty, as neighbours in faith, we acknowledge the value of public service. We unite with people of all faiths and beliefs in thanksgiving, and in service with you for the common good.”
Charles III and Camilla also put up Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and his wife, Valerie, for the night at St. James’s Palace so they could observe the Sabbath and attend the coronation ceremony.
“What an extraordinary Shabbat this has been and what a privilege it was for me to be in attendance for the coronation of our King,” Mirvis said on video. “Valerie and I are indebted to our gracious hosts, the King and Queen, who enabled us to stay in a royal palace over Shabbat so that I could be at the coronation. We wish the King and Queen all the very best for a healthy, long and successful reign. God save the King!”
Meanwhile, Charles III received blessings from faith leaders in the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Scottish Free Church denominations. The Byzantine Chant Ensemble performed Greek Orthodox music as a tribute to his late father, Prince Philip. Eight gospel singers from Britain’s Ascension Choir, who had previously performed at Harry and Meghan’s wedding, sang “Alleluia (O Sing Praises)” by British-Jewish composer Debbie Wiseman. The service included passages in several other native languages in the United Kingdom – Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic.
Other modern touches included a larger role for female clergy, replacing the traditional Homage of the Peers with a pledge of public allegiance, and Charles and Camilla travelling to Westminster Abbey in the newer Diamond Jubilee State Coach (although the antique Gold State Coach would be used for the trip back to Buckingham Palace).
The British monarch commissioned 12 new musical compositions for the coronation written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patrick Doyle, Judith Weir and others. A long-time environmentalist, his coronation invitations were reportedly sent out on recycled cards, and he re-used historically significant robes dating back to 1821 instead of ordering new ones.
The Coronation Prom, featuring the All Souls Orchestra and a massed choir at Royal Albert Hall, performed the music of Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, George Frideric Handel and John Williams on the evening Charles III was crowned. There was a free Coronation Concert on the grounds of Windsor Castle hosted by actor Hugh Bonneville on May 7, featuring performances by Katy Perry, Lionel Ritchie, Steve Winwood, Take That, Andrea Bocelli – and cameos by Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy of The Muppets.
No stone (of Scone) was left unturned at the coronation, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Everything that was done reflected Charles III’s public support for the arts, environment, charities and inclusivity of people of different faiths and backgrounds. While some critics may doubt the sincerity of these gestures, they shouldn’t. Each represents exactly who he is, what he’s always stood for, and what he wants Britain to become.
If Charles III’s coronation is representative of what he hopes to accomplish as King of the United Kingdom, then his popularity numbers will gradually improve – and the monarchy’s future will remain bright.
Congratulations, King Charles III. Long may you reign.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.
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