King Charles will make a poignant public pledge to serve all the people at his Coronation on Saturday.
He will declare before guests at the ceremony in Westminster Abbey and a global television audience: “I come not to be served – but to serve.”
Millions of loyal subjects around the world will then be invited to join together in pledging allegiance to him.
Once called the Homage of the Peers and reserved only for Lords, it is now called the Homage of the People.
In what is set to be the most inclusive and unifying Coronation in history, Charles will also become the first monarch to pray aloud during the two-hour service in a “powerful” new addition to the historic occasion.
Three women bishops and multi-faith leaders will play an active role, with all of the languages of the four home nations included.
And the King will make his solemn public pledge to “serve” after being greeted by 14-year-old Samuel Strachan, the longest
serving chorister of the Choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace.
The City of London School pupil, a choir member for four years, will welcome the monarch in the name of the “King of Kings” – a reference to Christ.
Charles will reply: “In His name, and after his example, I come not to be served, but to serve.”
The office for the Archbishop of Canterbury said this addition will underline the King’s intention to devote himself to the nation “in a life of loving service”.
The service will start at 11am with a procession into the Abbey that includes representatives of all the major religions to reflect the multi-faith nature of Britain.
The anthem I Was Glad, a version of Psalm 122, will be proclaimed as Charles and Camilla enter, in keeping with a tradition dating back to at least 1626.
As well as the Homage of the People, other firsts include:
- Charles reading aloud a personal prayer written for him to reflect the “loving service” theme of the liturgy, with words inspired by I Vow To Thee My Country;
- Camilla being anointed in full public view and given an octagonal mixed-cut ruby surrounded by 14 diamonds which “marries” her as consort to the King;
- The Greek Choir singing a psalm in tribute to the King’s late father Prince Philip, who was the nation’s longest-serving consort;
- People being asked to join in with reciting The Lord’s Prayer in their own language;
- Instead of all the dukes of royal blood paying homage, as is tradition, only Prince William will kneel before the Monarch, place his hands between his father’s and vow to be his “liege man of life and limb”.
This will remove the need for controversial figures like the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of York to be actively involved in the service;
- Rishi Sunak reading a passage from the Bible.
The Prime Minister will read from Colossians 1:9-17. This has been chosen to reflect the theme of service to others, and the loving rule of Christ over all people and all things. Despite being Hindu he is able to give a reading in his official capacity as Prime Minister;
- Dame Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Bishop of Dover and the Bishop in Canterbury, and Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford, will be the first female clergy to have a role in the service;
- Hymns will be sung in all three Celtic languages – Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic – alongside English;
- Hosam Naoum, the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, will take part in the anointing by presenting the Coronation Chrism Oil to Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to complete its journey from where it was consecrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre;
- The Regalia will be presented to the King by members of the House of Lords who all represent different faiths.
Baroness Merron, 64, a Jewish peer and former Labour MP, Lord Patel, 84, a Hindu cross-bench peer, Lord Kamali, 56, a Muslim who sits as a Conservative and Lord Singh of Wimbledon, 90, a Sikh cross-bencher will hand over one of the Coronation robes, the sovereign ring, a pair of bracelets called the Armills and the Coronation glove;
- At the close of the service before His Majesty proceeds to the Gold State Coach for a procession through London, King Charles will receive and acknowledge a spoken greeting delivered in unison by representatives from Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Buddhist communities.
Further details of the Coronation liturgy revealed by the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury today include the King, as is custom, being shielded during his sacred anointing by a new 2.6-metre high, three-sided, embroidered screen.
A Robe of Estate has been made for Camilla by the Royal School of Needlework. Purple velvet is embroidered in goldwork threads, and intricately decorated with bees, a beetle and a host of flowers – drawing on the themes of nature and the environment.
For the Homage of the People, the Archbishop will call upon “all persons of goodwill in The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of the other Realms and the Territories, to make their homage, in heart and voice, to their undoubted King, defender of all”.
The order of service will read: “All who so desire, in the Abbey, and elsewhere, say together:
“All: I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.”
A Lambeth Palace spokesman said it was hoped the Homage of the People will allow “a chorus of millions of voices” to be “enabled for the first time to participate in this solemn and joyful moment”.
The spokesman added: “Our hope is at that point, when the Archbishop invites people to join in, that people wherever they
are, if they’re watching at home on their own, watching the telly, will say it out loud – this sense of a great cry around the nation and around the world of support for the King.”
Queen’s joyful note
Coronations are not just exciting for royal fans, as a young Princess Elizabeth recorded in her own journal. The late Queen was just 11 when her father George VI was crowned on May 12, 1937.
In her own neat handwriting, she dedicated the journal: “To Mummy and Papa. In Memory of their Coronation. From Lilibet by herself.” She wrote: “I thought it all very, very wonderful and I expect the Abbey did too.”
Incredible items from royal history – including St Edward’s Crown, the orb and sceptre, the Coronation Chair and the Stone of Scone, not to mention many other fabulous, glittering jewels – will be used for the first time in 70 years at the Coronation of King Charles III. Royal author Cathrine Pepinster details their special meaning and key role in the ritual of the Coronation.
Like St Edward’s Crown, the Imperial State Crown and the sceptre, the orb is topped by a cross, as a reminder that the monarch serves Jesus Christ. The sphere, or orb, represents the globe and its message is that the world is the dominion of Christ, under his cross.
Note that its cross looks slightly wonky: when Colonel Blood and his gang attempted to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671, one of them dropped and damaged the orb.
The sceptre and rod
After the orb is placed in the King’s right hand, it is taken back and put on the altar of the abbey. Then he will be given the sceptre, which is associated with sovereignty, power and justice.
Already decorated with priceless jewels, it became even more precious, when George V – Charles III’s grandfather – had the original “monde” or little orb replaced with the 530.2-carat Cullinan diamond for his Coronation in 1911.
In his left hand, Charles will hold the rod, symbolising equity and mercy. The rod, set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires, has an enamel dove with outstretched wings topping it, to represent the Holy Spirit.
Like St Edward’s Crown and the orb, the sceptre and rod were made for Charles II in 1661.
St Edwards Crown
Although named after St Edward the Confessor, the last king of Wessex, this is a replica, after the original was broken up by Oliver Cromwell’s troops at the end of the Civil War. But this crown has history too: it was first made for Charles III’s namesake, Charles II, in 1661.
Its dazzling jewels include tourmalines, amethysts, rubies, sapphires, garnet and topaz. It is only ever used in coronations for the crowning of monarchs – it is solid gold and weighs 2.2kg, so cannot be worn for long.
Charles will change it for the lighter Imperial State Crown when he moves out of the Abbey at the end of the Coronation service.
Ampulla and spoon
The ampulla, Latin name for a vessel, will be used at the Coronation as a container for the holy oil, used by the Archbishop of Canterbury to anoint Charles and Camilla. Anointing is an ancient ceremony, with links to the Bible.
But the medieval coronation ampulla, or container, was lost during the Civil War.
This one, in the shape of an eagle, was made for Charles II, and the oil is poured from its beak. This time the oil has been made with olives from where the King’s paternal grandmother, Princess Alice, is buried on the Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem.
The silver gilt spoon, into which the oil is poured, is the oldest item in the regalia, and dates from the 12th century.
The King’s prayer
God of compassion and mercy whose Son was sent not to be served but to serve, give grace that I may find in thy service perfect freedom and in that freedom knowledge of thy truth.
Grant that I may be a blessing to all thy children, of every faith and conviction, that together we may discover the ways of gentleness and be led into the paths of peace through Jesus Christ our Lord.
TV charges papers for coverage
British broadcasters are locked in a fierce stand-off with newspapers over the rights to live coverage of the Coronation.
The BBC, which is producing the bulk of the live feed for Saturday’s spectacular, together with ITV and Sky, are trying to impose huge fees for newspaper websites to live stream or use footage.
Yet newspapers argue the charges are a penalty aimed at UK news outlets because foreign newspapers and broadcasters can access the footage through pre-existing arrangements.
They point out a precedent was set during the funeral of Queen Elizabeth when fees were waived.
Newspapers via the UK’s News Media Association wanted to strike a deal to use the BBC’s feed but broadcasters had resisted.
It was only after the Royal Household gave a clear,
unequivocal direction to the broadcasters to give access for free that their position shifted.
Now newspapers have called for the same access for the first “Coronation in the majority of people’s living memory”.
A source said: “The BBC recognises this is an event of major public interest – the nation should have unfettered access to it. The BBC has waived the licence fee for a day. This suggests the BBC knows there are people it will not reach with coverage, but it isn’t a serious move to address the problem.”
The way people watch news has changed in the past decade with newspapers and radio stations having online news sites, where they can offer real-time action and analysis online.