God save the monarchy
Catherine Pepinster, former editor of the Catholic magazine The Tablet, published her book Defenders of the Faith on religion and the British monarchy a year ago. She has now updated it to cover the accession of Charles III and his coming coronation
This is going to be the first coronation for 70 years, a good portion of a lifetime. How do you think this year’s coronation will be different from the last?
Only a small number of people will have watched one before. They may have seen footage of Elizabeth II’s coronation, and they may assume that all coronations are exactly the same. But although there are some things that happen every time, the order of service can be different. They can move when the readings from the Bible happen, there will be new music.
There will be one huge difference from last time, which is that there will be two people who are crowned and anointed, because there’s a Queen Consort. Last time, Prince Phillip, the husband of the Queen, was not crowned or anointed. We keep being told this coronation is going to be shorter. I’m sure they can find ways to make it shorter, but they’re also adding things in, like the crowning and anointing of a second person.
They’re also likely to recognise what a different country this is to what it was in 1953 by involving other Christian denominations beyond the Church of England and I think other faiths too. Quite how they’re going to do that doesn’t seem to yet be decided, but we can get some clues from the Queen’s funeral, which was an Anglican funeral but involved senior clergy of other denominations reciting prayers, and other faiths in a procession.
After Elizabeth II died, the new King and Queen Consort attended services of reflection in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff. And the Cardiff one was particularly interesting because there were prayers by members of other faiths as well. So we have some clues…
This is an extract from an article published in the April 2023 edition of Reform