King Charles III Coronation: Multi-Faith Ceremony To Reflect British Diversity

King Charles III Coronation: Multi-Faith Ceremony To Reflect British Diversity
Rishi Sunak will read from the first chapter of the Epistle to the Colossians, the twelfth book of the Christian Bible or New Testament, at the Coronation of King Charles III. Sunak, a practicing Hindu, will read from the Bible in keeping with the tradition of British prime ministers giving readings at state occasions, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury revealed as part of the official liturgy for the religious ceremony at Westminster Abbey on May 6.

Rishi Sunak, Britain's first prime minister of Indian heritage, reading from a biblical book is designed to resonate with the multi-faith theme being struck for the Anglican Christian ceremony. Lambeth Palace, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Reverend Justin Welby, said that members of other faiths and traditions will play an active role in the service for the first time. Archbishop Welby's office announced that prime minister Sunak will be reading verses 9 through 17 of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Colossians.

Pakistani prime minister Shehbaz Sharif will also be visiting the United Kingdom next week to attend the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla on May 6, the Foreign Office (FO) confirmed on Friday. PM Shehbaz will participate in an event for Commonwealth leaders scheduled in London on May 5, and will hold bilateral meetings with leaders participating in the celebrations.

The FO said Pakistan and the UK had a long history of relations strongly anchored in the dynamic Pakistani-British community. “We see the British monarch and the royal family as friends of Pakistan and its people and look forward to further strengthening of ties between Pakistan and the United Kingdom,” it said. PM Shehbaz will join hundreds of other dignitaries, royals, heads of state and government, celebrities, and notables who have been invited to the coronation.

Coronation liturgy

"The Archbishop of Canterbury has selected a new Epistle for this Coronation, which will be Colossians 1:9-17. This passage has been chosen to reflect the theme of service to others, and the loving rule of Christ over all people and all things, which runs through this Coronation Liturgy," Lambeth Palace said. The overall theme of the coronation liturgy is "Called to Serve", which is intended to reflect the commitment that the King will make to serve God and the people of the United Kingdom.

"Following recent tradition of British Prime Ministers giving readings at State occasions - as Head of the host Nation's government - this will be read by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak," it said.

By longstanding tradition, the Archbishop of Canterbury authorises a new liturgy - or the form according to which a public religious worship takes place - for every coronation. The three oaths the King at the heart of the service remain unchanged, including the promise to maintain "the Protestant Reformed Religion". The five elements of the historic "English Coronation Rite" will take place in their traditional order: The Recognition; The Oath; The Anointing; The Investiture and Crowning; and The Enthronement and Homage. These elements will take place within the traditional structure of a service of Holy Communion, including prayers and Bible readings, and King Charles and Queen Camilla will receive Holy Communion during the service.

Multi-faith regalia

Lambeth Palace also confirmed that the Presentation of the Regalia will be made by Members of the House of Lords and, for the first time in history, items without Christian meaning or symbolism will be presented by peers belonging to the faiths of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. Presenting regalia without Christian motifs has the aim of underlining the interdependence between neighbours, whatever their faith.

Female bishops will participate in the Coronation for the first time. These include Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, Bishop of London; Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover and Canterbury; and Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford. This will also be the first time that the Sword of State and Sword of Offering will be carried and presented by a woman, since the Lord President of the Council is the House of Commons Leader, Penny Mordaunt MP.

Buckingham Palace has confirmed that Lord Syed Kamall, 56, of Indo-Guyanese heritage, will represent the Muslim faith and present the Armills or a pair of bracelets, symbolizing sincerity and wisdom, and a bond uniting the king to his people. Baroness Gillian Merron, along with the Prince of Wales, will assist the Bishops in adorning the king with the Robe Royal, which represents 'garments of salvation' and the 'robe of righteousness', in reference to the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament. Lord Narendra Babubhai Patel, 84, will represent the Hindu faith and hand over the Sovereign's Ring to Charles, which symbolizes commitment to the people. Lord Indarjit Singh, 90, will represent the Sikh faith and present the Coronation Glove, which demonstrates the king as an advocate for the protection of his people.

"At the end of the procession at the close of the service, before His Majesty proceeds to the Gold State Coach, the King will receive and acknowledge a spoken greeting delivered in unison by Representatives from Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Buddhist communities," Lambeth Palace said.

Live ceremony

The thousands congregated at the Abbey, and millions expected to be watching on screens as the ceremony is telecast live, will be invited to take an oath of loyalty to the British crown: "I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law - so help me God".

The coronation on May 6 will be telecast live around the world, and is expected to be watched by billions as it unfolds. However, the Anointing, being the most sacred part of the service, will not be recorded or broadcast.

As was the case in 1953, this part of the Coronation ceremony will not be visible to those watching on television or in the Abbey, as a newly-commissioned screen will be held around the Coronation Chair. The Anointing is the king’s "only moment of privacy during the Service, as he contemplates how he is called to service by God".