The Making of Kings and Queens

As the branch of the Anglican Communion in the United States, the Episcopal Church has a mixed identity with the English church, and Great Britain more generally: are we rebels who reject our colonial forebears and the relationship of the monarch with the Established Church? Are we American Anglophiles, who idealize the heritage of our church? Are we people who love pageantry in all its forms, and consequently get excited about the occasion, while not looking too hard at the theological ramifications of the service itself? 

The entire spectrum of responses are on hand as the United Kingdom approaches the Coronation of King Charles III. 

I confess to a certain amount of personal curiosity about the Coronation, having never seen one, and having an appetite for public liturgy. I have now reviewed the Order of Service (you can see the annotated order of service here) and was surprised that it takes place within the context of a Eucharistic liturgy. It appears that only the King and Queen will receive communion; and the novelty, such as it is, in this coronation is that it incorporates all the Primates of the Churches of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in addition to the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose role for many centuries has been to crown the monarch, and that while still pledging to commit to being a Protestant nation, ecumenical and interfaith leaders are also participating in the Coronation. 

Regardless of whether we ought to be celebrating or praying for divinely ordered monarchs, it is certainly meet and right to pray for all those who are called to authority. My favorite phrases for such prayer are at the end of prayer 18 in the Book of Common Prayer (page 820): “Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home…” 

May all those chosen for leadership of the nations–whether elected, appointed, or born to such leadership–be endued with wisdom for the benefit of all. Amen. 

St Edward’s Crown is the centerpiece of the British coronation regalia.