Coronation: Public asked to swear allegiance to King Charles
Organizers say that people watching the Coronation are invited to join “a chorus of millions” and swear allegiance to the King and his heirs.
This new public pledge is just one of many striking changes made to the ancient ceremony that was revealed on Saturday.
In a coronation full of firsts, female clergy will play a prominent role, and the King himself will pray out loud.
For the first time, religious leaders of other faiths will be actively involved in the Christian service.
The Coronation on Saturday will be the first to incorporate other languages spoken in Britain, with a hymn set to be sung in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, and Irish Gaelic.
The three oaths that the King will swear and which form the core of the service, remain unchanged. This includes the promise to uphold “the Protestant Reformed religion”.
Full details of the Westminster Abbey service – the theme of which is “called to serve” – have been published by Lambeth Palace.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said it would “recognize and celebrate tradition” as well as containing “new elements that reflect the diversity of our contemporary society”.
The public will be given an active role in the ceremony for the first time, with people around the world set to be asked to cry out and swear allegiance to the King.
This “homage of the people” replaces the traditional “homage of peers” where hereditary peers swear allegiance to the new monarch. Instead everyone in the Abbey and watching at home will be invited to pay homage in what Lambeth Palace described as a “chorus of millions”.
The order of service will read: “All who so desire, in the Abbey, and elsewhere, say together: I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.”
It will be followed by the playing of a fanfare.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will then proclaim “God save the King”, with all asked to respond: “God save King Charles. Long live King Charles. May the King live forever.”
A spokesman for Lambeth Palace, the archbishop’s office, said: “The homage of the people is particularly exciting because that’s brand new.
“That’s something that we can share in because of technological advances, so not just the people in the Abbey, but people who are online, on television, who are listening, and who are gathered in parks, at big screens and churches.
“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.”
While the oaths – which have remained unchanged for centuries – will retain their Protestant pledge, Lambeth Palace said the Archbishop of Canterbury will “contextualise” them.
He will say beforehand that the Church of England will seek to create an environment where “people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely”.
“The religious and cultural context of the 17th Century was very different to today’s contemporary, multi-faith Britain,” a Lambeth Palace spokesperson said. “So, for the first time there will be a preface to the Oath.”
The BBC’s religion editor Aleem Maqbool said over the years, there has been much speculation about whether the King would change his oaths to reflect an aspiration to protect the practice of all faiths and beliefs, though it would have been a move that would have caused consternation among some Church of England traditionalists.
He added that it may appear a neat solution to leave the oaths unchanged and have the Archbishop of Canterbury express that forward-looking sentiment, but progressives will be left wondering why the protection of the practice of all beliefs could not be part of the oral contract with the nation that the King enters into.