Charles III was crowned the King of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth Realms, and Defender of the Faith, on Saturday, May 6, 2023.
For anyone watching, the ceremony was full of pomp and circumstance.
Held at the historic and striking Westminster Abbey, the coronation was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby – senior bishop of the Church of England. The high church liturgy displayed a distinctly royal and weighty feel for the coronation – one fit for a king.
However, perhaps most notably, the ceremony was also replete with symbols, images, and references to the King of the Universe: Jesus Christ.
Upon entering the abbey, Charles III said, paraphrasing Matthew 20:28, “In His name and after His example I come not to be served but to serve.”
The coronation is, according to the Royal Family’s website, centered around “The King’s solemn vow and commitment to serve God, and the people of the nations and the realms.”
Following the reading of Scripture – including Colossians 1:9-17 – Archbishop Welby preached a homily, exhorting the new king to serve and take up his task which is “only bearable by the Spirit of God.”
King Charles was also presented with a new Holy Bible, specifically commissioned for his Service.
Subsequently, in taking his oath, King Charles III was asked by Archbishop Welby, “Will you, to the utmost of your power, maintain the laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel?”
King Charles III responded, “All this I promise to do.”
Subsequently, King Charles III’s Robe of State was removed, and he was left wearing a white dress shirt as an act of humility during his anointing – the “most solemn and sacred part of the Service.”
The King’s hands, chest and head were then anointed by Archbishop Welby behind an anointing screen, intended to preserve the sanctity and gravity of the act.
The oil used for the anointing was created from olives harvested from the Mount of Olives and consecrated in Jerusalem.
Following his consecration, the Colobium Sindonis, a white linen tunic, was placed upon the king, followed by the Supertunica – a full-length, sleeved gold coat. The garment is related “to priestly vestments … This link with priestly robes [is] a reminder of the divine nature of kingship.”
Archbishop Welby then continued with the liturgy, and celebrated the Eucharist, which the official agenda for the coronation described as “the defining act of worship for the Church universal … bread and wine [were] offered, consecrated and received by The King and Queen, to strengthen and guide them in their public service.”
You can watch additional highlights of the coronation here:
It’s important to note that all these images and symbols – the presentation of the Holy Bible, the promise to serve and proclaim the Gospel, consecrated oil, the use of the gold Supertunica, and the liturgy – point to the sacrificial service, royalty, and kingship of Jesus Christ.
It may have been King Charles III’s coronation day, but his authority to rule comes from Jesus Christ.
The Church of England bestowing authority on the king – manifest in the theory of the divine right of kings – shows the visual reality of a spiritual truth: all authority on earth comes from God.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1, ESV).
In summarizing the coronation, Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig wrote,
The ceremony was a deeply religious service, giving glory to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ. Especially striking was the anointing, when the King was stripped of his royal robes and in humility anointed behind a screen. May King Charles faithfully guide the Church of England!
Now, it’s true that King Charles III is far from a perfect man, his rocky relationship with Princess Diana and his adultery reminds us of that. Of course, he won’t be a perfect king either. And importantly, though the Church of England has maintained meaningful traditions in some aspects, it has also departed from orthodox Christian teaching in others.
Yet, Saturday’s royal ceremony reminded the world of the one perfect King: Jesus Christ.
In Philippians 2:6-11 we read about the humility of Christ.
Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (ESV).
Service is the call of every person in authority, be it a king, president, governor, mayor, husband, father, wife or mother.
The Son of Man came not be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28, ESV).
For those who humble themselves and serve, Christ raises up and exalts.
And if you thought Saturday’s coronation ceremony was beautiful, imagine how glorious it will be when Christ the King, seated on his throne, comes again and makes all things new.
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Photo from Getty Images.