Marks & spencer is out of stock of crowned teddy bears and souvenir plates, but one day before the coronation of king charles iii on saturday 6th may there were still plenty of union jack t-shirts or boxes of special shortbreads coronation for sale on the site of the iconic supermarket.
It has been seventy years since the British have experienced such a ceremony. Central London is decked out in flags as 7,000 soldiers painstakingly rehearsed a historic military parade. Yet there is little excitement in the air, less than on the eve of Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in the spring of 2022.
First obvious reason: it is a 74-year-old monarch who will be crowned in Westminster Abbey, the oldest in the history of the British monarchy. Charles III is in good health, but he was almost fifty years older than his mother when she was crowned with the crown of Saint Edward on June 2, 1953. At the time, the young queen was comely, symbolized hope , restored confidence to a country exhausted by the war. Despite his passion for the environment and his sincere interest in all religions, his son cannot embody the same values.
Charles III wants to use the religious ceremony to demonstrate his desire to modernize the monarchical institution. For the first time, three female bishops will participate in the service alongside the Primate of the Church of England, Justin Welby. A Briton of Irish and Nigerian descent, Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, will carry the orb. Baroness Floella Benjamin, of Caribbean origin, will be in charge of one of the sceptres, another symbol of royal authority. Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist religious leaders will also take part in the coronation, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a Hindu, will read a passage from the Bible.
bow like subjects
However, to attend the coronation, for the historian Tom Holland, who signed a tribune, on April 30, in the columns of the Guardianit will be “like going to the zoo and running into a triceratops in one of the enclosures”. How many will appreciate the religious and historical meaning of this very ancient rite (the first coronation at Westminster Abbey was that of William the Conqueror, on Christmas Day 1066), when, according to the 2021 census, less than half of Welsh and English declare themselves to be Christian?
As for the invitation made to all Britons by the Palace of Lambeth (the residence of the primate of the Anglican Church) to pledge allegiance to their king aloud at the end of the liturgy, it has aroused a lot of criticism. Is it appropriate, in the XXIe century, to ask millions of people to bow like subjects before a man who owes his position only to his birth?
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