Charles III has finally met his destiny and been anointed king after living his entire life as the heir to his late mother Queen Elizabeth II.
At a time when the monarchy is attempting to maintain relevance in a divided modern Britain, a coronation ceremony steeped in ancient ritual and oozing with bling.
As Charles sat on the 700-year-old oak Coronation Chair, he was given an orb, a sword, and a sceptre, and had the solid gold, jewelled St. Edward’s Crown placed on his head in demonstrations of royal power straight out of the Middle Ages.
Charles made the following proclamation in front of world leaders, foreign royals, British aristocrats, and celebrities: “I come not to be served but to serve.” More than 2,000 people chanted “God save the king!” as trumpets played within the ancient abbey. Thousands of soldiers, hundreds of thousands of onlookers, and a few protesters gathered outside.
The 39 other kings and queens who have been crowned at Westminster Abbey since 1066 would have recognised a large portion of the two-hour Anglican liturgy.
Although many of the elaborate customs and ceremonies used to recognise Charles as his people’s “undoubted king” were kept, the king tried to modernise other elements of the service.
First-time participants included female bishops and choristers as well as representatives of Britain’s non-Christian religions. Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, and Irish Gaelic were also heavily featured in Celtic languages.
A Greek chorus chanted a hymn in remembrance of Charles’s late father, Prince Philip, who was born on the island of Corfu, while a gospel choir performed for the first time during a coronation.
Charles has referred to himself as a “committed Anglican Christian” and is the head of the Church of England.
However, he governs a nation that is more racially and religiously diverse than the one his mother took over in the wake of World War II.
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As a result, he invited regular citizens to sit alongside heads of state and international monarchy in an effort to make the congregation more representative of British society.
The heads of numerous African nations, including those that are Commonwealth members, were there.
When Britain’s empire fell under Queen Elizabeth II, it first existed as an organisation of nations that had achieved their freedom from that country.
Queen Victoria even proclaimed herself the Empress of India in 1876, placing the British Royal Family at the heart of the Empire.
Several of the few states who still hold the British monarch as their head of state have stated their desire to do away with that system.
This week, both Jamaica and Belize gave indications that they were headed in that direction. Australia, Canada, and other countries may eventually do the same.
In Barbados, the Queen will no longer serve as the nation’s head of state starting in 2021.
Additionally, a growing number of Britons are turning Republican; polls show that the monarchy is losing popularity, especially among younger people.
Prince Andrew, Charles’ eldest brother, received jeers as he entered the abbey since he is particularly despised by Britons.
Charles ignored him because of his relationship with the late convicted child molester Jeffrey Epstein.
Prince Harry, a second exile from the royal family who left for the United States in 2020 and has since lambasted the family, went to the coronation by himself.
British citizens who are struggling to make ends meet have also questioned why taxpayers should foot the tab for the coronation, which is expected to cost more than 125 million euros.
Police detained hundreds of demonstrators before Charles and Camilla left Buckingham Palace for a soggy march to the abbey, using newly enacted powers to target direct action organisations.
Climate campaigners, Just Stop Oil reported that 19 of its members were being held, while the anti-monarchy organisation Republic—which calls for an elected head of state—said six of its organisers were detained.
On the parade route, however, scores of Republic activists hoisted banners that read, “Not My King.”
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have expressed concern over the arrests. According to HRW, “This is something you would anticipate seeing in Moscow rather than London”.
The Metropolitan Police of London has approximately 11,500 officers on the streets as part of one of its largest security operations ever. It has an “extremely low threshold” for protests, as it had previously warned the public.
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