Yesterday, for the first time in more than seventy years, tens of millions of people around the world witnessed the coronation of King Charles III of England. As the eldest son of the recently deceased monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, Charles has waited most of his life, from approximately the age of four, to ascend to the role that he was born for according to British rules of succession.
Finally, with the passing of his mother, Charles appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the first time in his life as the monarch of Great Britain – after an elaborate ceremony at Westminster Abbey where he was crowned King Charles III. Now William, his eldest son, is first in line to the throne. While Charles officially became the monarch upon the death of his mother, it is customary to wait a suitable period of time until the coronation ceremony, which has taken place at Westminster Abbey since 1066 when William the Conqueror was crowned on Christmas Day.
To be sure, King Charles is a direct descendant of William the Conqueror, as each of the subsequent monarchs since 1066 has been. In fact, some of the crown jewels used in the official installation of Charles are from the 12th century while others have been remade after the originals had been melted down in the centuries past and sold on the public market.
The most important parts of the coronation are the scepter, coronation orb and the crown. In fact, King Charles wore two crowns yesterday. The first, the coronation crown, is probably one of the most well know symbols in all the world. It weighs almost 5 pounds and stands 12″ high. Another famous crown is worn after the ceremony as the monarch leaves Westminster.
The scepter, staff and orb also have special significance. The value of the crown jewels in total exceeds $4 billion dollars and the largest diamond, used in the staff, is estimated to be worth $400 million!
But the money is not what is important here. If you watched the coronation, I hope that you noticed the Christian symbols, including crosses, throughout the ceremony. History dictates that monarchs rule through what is referred to as “divine authority.” In other words, it is God’s will that they reign. Certainly, in this world today, it is easy to forget the a sovereign is to serve – not to be served… Clearly, Jesus is the model of this behavior.
The orb consists of a hollow gold ball with a cross on top, to symbolize that Jesus is head of everything – not the monarch. The staff and even the top of the crown are fashioned in such as way as to depict Christian symbols of crosses. There was some concern that since the last coronation, seventy years ago, Great Britain is far less Christian than it used to be, but it is evident that the Christian elements of the coronation were still front and center during the proceedings. This kept in tact the age old rituals of Christianity even in the face of changing societal religious convictions.
In fact, the only part of the ceremony that was not shown was the anointing of King Charles with holy oil, called the Chism oil, transported from the Mount of Olives in Israel and perfumed with sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, benzoin, amber and orange blossom. After removing his regal garments and clad in a simple white shirt – symbolizing that he comes to this position as a servant, Charles was then anointed with the holy oil on his hands, chest and head – reminding him that he serves at the will of God.
The ampulla and spoon used during this part of the coronation are the most important objects used during the entire proceeding – the spoon surviving from the earl 12th century. This is an intimate reminder that the role of the monarch is to serve – not to be served. This was also the mandate that Jesus refers to in the Scripture.
Our verse for tonight highlights the the fact that Jesus is the model of the perfect servant. The apostle Mark tells us, in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus came as a servant and that is His wish for all of us. My prayer is the King Charles III will remember, with highest regard, his sacred coronation oath to be a servant to the people. It will be through this selfless act, as well as God’s divine help, that he will even be able to rule Great Britain. It is our duty, as Christians, to ask God to reinforce the king’s resolve and commitment to a Christ centered life and a successful reign. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…