Why Are We One of the Few Countries to Still Have a Coronation for a New Sovereign?

Why Are We One of the Few Countries to Still Have a Coronation for a New Sovereign?


Unlike all other European monarchies we retain the ancient ceremony of coronation in which we anoint and crown our monarchs. The ceremony’s beginnings are lost in history but there is undoubtedly a connexion with ancient biblical practices later exemplified by the Anglo-Saxons and through their culture to our earlier post-Norman history. The ceremony was codified in the fourteenth century in the Liber Regalis and this illustrated manuscript (housed in Westminster Abbey) still forms the basis of coronations.

A coronation is a Christian religious ceremony in which the monarch consecrates himself to God and to the people. It is a life-changing event where the monarch devotes the remainder of his life to the service of his people and is thus of the highest significance especially so when considered as the continuation of the fifteen hundred years of history which precede it. At the end of the ceremony the monarch is anointed and crowned, has sworn an oath to serve the people and has received their acclamation, loyalty and approval in return.

It might be considered these days that such an overt embrace of Christianity in a ceremony which is based on the centrality of sacrifice and commitment of one individual to the common good is old-fashioned. Coronations throughout the centuries have all been subtly different one from the other. At the last coronation (of Elizabeth II) representatives from all the other major religions were present in the abbey and took part in sections of the ceremony. This would have been unthinkable in the distant past. It is quite possible that in the next coronation other religions may take a more active role concomitant with the central Christian core. In the end however, we need to remember that the history of the UK and Australia has always rested on its Christian foundations and it is still one of the determining features of our libertarian and democratic way of life. It cannot be forgotten and should not be sidelined.

Much has been written on the subject of coronation and there are other sections on this website which deal with it in more detail but suffice to say here that the ritual and splendid words and music and setting which accompany the ceremony reinforce the fact that the monarch makes a series of affirmations relating to the moral values necessary to maintain a well-governed and good society. These values are unchanging and are reflected in Law and Justice and in the authority of the monarch whose role it is to ensure that right is done to all equally.

No republic can ever match this. Presidents take oaths of office, other European monarchies have toned-down their ceremonies to fit their style but it is our monarch who devotes his or her whole life to the maintenance of our freedom and good government. This is something with which we can be immensely proud to be part of. It has served us well since Foundation and will continue to do so.

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