The coming coronation of King Charles at Westminster Abbey is “a wonderful underlining of the legitimacy of his reign and a prayerful opportunity to dedicate his reign to God”, according to the author of a new study guide for clergy.
No details of the order of the coronation service on 6 May have been released, but they are expected to replicate ancient ceremonies dating back over one thousand years of English history, described in the guide, called ‘The Theological Significance of the Coronation’.
“I'm looking forward to seeing what's going to be in the rite,” commented Rev Canon William Gulliford, vicar of St Mark's Church in Regent's Park in London, who wrote the guide, which draws on the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
“Obviously there's amnesia in the last 70 years, other than that people have visited the crown jewels and will have some sense that they are used in some way. This needs interpreting and explaining”, he told Premier Christian News.
Although just a few weeks away, a new YouGov poll suggests that most people are not interested in the King's coronation.
Despite this, it also found that many people will still be watching the service at Westminster Abbey, or taking part in related festivities.
64 per cent of the survey of 3,000 people said they either don't "care very much" or "do not care at all" about the coronation, compared to just 9 per cent who "care a great deal".
“I'm not sure that it's always a good idea to trust opinion polls too much”, commented Rev Gulliford, “because the questions that can be asked can be a bit leading.”
“I don't think there's any reason for anybody to be fearful about releasing the contents of the coronation rite because it is so majestic, beautiful, important and historic”, he continued.
“Right at the heart of it is the anointing, which I think the archbishop in 1953 called the spiritual climax, and the coronation itself, the visual climax of the service. And that's certainly true”, he said.
“The crowning is the outward and visible sign of the inward and invisible truth of the anointing. It is a sacramental act in some way at some level and to some degree, an ordination.”
“You can't decouple those two things, though, from the oath which takes place beforehand, which is a very solemn undertaking on the part of the sovereign.
“The reign should be understood theologically as a relationship between the monarch and the people whom he will serve. The orb signifies the world under the reign of Christ and the Cross sits on top of it. I think it's a lovely piece of symbolism of the reign of Christ over the world.”