Charles III crowned in ancient rite at an uncertain time

LONDON: King Charles III was crowned at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, in a ceremony based on ancient traditions at a time when the british monarchy facing an uncertain future.
Trumpets sounded inside the medieval abbey and the congregation shouted “God save King Charles” as the ceremony began in front of more than 2,000 guests, including world leaders, aristocrats and celebrities. Outside, thousands of soldiers, tens of thousands of onlookers and a handful of protesters converged along a route the king traveled from Buckingham Palace in a golden, horse-drawn carriage.
It was the last mile of a seven-decade journey for Charles from heir to monarch.
For the Royal Family and the Government, the occasion – codenamed Operation Golden Orb – is an exhibition of heritage, tradition and spectacle unmatched anywhere in the world.
The rite was expected to be watched by millions, although the awe and reverence the ceremony was meant to evoke had largely disappeared – and many greeted the day with apathy.
Some even greeted him with disdain. Republican protesters gathered outside to shout ‘Not my king’ for a celebration of an institution they say represents privilege and inequality, in a country with deepening poverty and ties social unravel. A handful have been arrested.
As the guests arrived, the church was buzzing with excitement and bursting with fragrant flowers and colorful hats. Among them were US First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, eight former and current British prime ministers as well as Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and Lionel Richie.
Thousands of people from across the UK and around the world camped overnight along a 1.3-mile (2-kilometre) route the King and his wife, Camilla, walked to reach the Abbey .
At a traditional Anglican service slightly modified for modern times, Charles, dressed in crimson and cream robes, swore on a Bible that he was a “true Protestant”.
But for the first time a preface was added to the coronation oath to say that the Church of England “shall seek to foster an environment in which people of all faiths and creeds can live freely”, and the Bible’s epistle King James was read by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Britain’s first Hindu leader.
A gospel choir performed a newly composed “Hallelujah” and, for the first time, female clergy took part in the ceremony.
For 1,000 years and more, British monarchs have been crowned in grand ceremonies that confirm their right to rule.
Nowadays, the king no longer has any executive or political power, and the service is purely ceremonial since Charles automatically became king upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in September.
The King remains the UK’s head of state and a symbol of national identity – and Charles will have to work to unite a multicultural nation and keep the monarchy relevant at a time when its support is waning, especially among young people .
Anti-monarchy group Republic said six of its members, including its chief executive, were arrested as they arrived at a protest. Police said they would have a “low tolerance” for people seeking to disrupt the day, prompting criticism that they are restricting free speech.
A cost of living crisis is also making everyone in the UK poorer, raising questions about the cost of the whole pump.
Charles sought to steer a smaller, cheaper royal machine for the 21st century. So it will be a shorter affair than Elizabeth’s three-hour coronation.
In 1953, Westminster Abbey was fitted with temporary stands to increase seating capacity to over 8,000, aristocrats wore crimson robes and crowns, and the coronation procession wound 8 kilometers through the center of London, so that about 3 million people could cheer. the 27-year-old glamor queen.
Organizers this time shortened the cortege route, cut the coronation service to less than two hours and sent out 2,300 invitations to global royalty, heads of state, government officials, key workers and local heroes. There were judges in wigs, soldiers with sparkling medals attached to red tunics and members of the House of Lords in their red robes.
Heir to the throne, Prince William, his wife, Kate, and their three children were all present. William’s younger brother Prince Harry, who publicly fought with the family, arrived alone. His wife Meghan and their children stayed at their home in California.
Built around the theme “Called to Serve”, the coronation service began with one of the youngest members of the congregation – a chorister boy – saluting the king. Charles responded by saying, “I come not to be served but to serve.”
The moment is meant to highlight the importance of the young – and is a new addition in a ritual-laden service through which power has passed to new monarchs over the centuries.
The symbolic peak of the two-hour service came halfway through when Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby placed St Edward’s solid gold crown on the monarch’s head. Trumpets sounded and shots were fired across the UK
In another change, Charles removed the traditional moment at the end of the service when nobles were asked to kneel and pledge their loyalty to the king.
Instead, Welby will invite everyone in the abbey to swear “true allegiance” to the monarch. He will also invite viewers to pay their respects – although that part of the ceremony was toned down after some criticized it as a tone-deaf effort to demand public support for Charles. Welby will now suggest people at home take a ‘quiet moment of reflection’ or say ‘God save the king’.
The public’s response to Charles, however, during the service and along the parade route, is key, said George Gross, a visiting scholar at King’s College London and an expert on coronations.
“None of this matters if the audience doesn’t show up,” Gross said. “If they don’t care, then this whole thing isn’t really working. Everything depends on this interaction.”
And audiences today are very different from those who saw Elizabeth crowned.
Almost 20% of the population now comes from minority ethnic groups, up from less than 1% in the 1950s. More than 300 languages ​​are spoken in UK schools and less than half the population describes themselves as Christian.
Although organizers say the coronation will remain a “sacred Anglican service”, the ceremony will for the first time include the active participation of other religions, including representatives of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh traditions.


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