State & Ceremonial

Traditional coronation ceremony could see major changes

The time-old coronation ceremony of monarchs could be set to change, following the publication of an inquiry into modern religious observance.

A report from the Commision on Religion and Belief in British Public Life has recommended the ceremony should encompass the diverse range of faiths in a “pluralist” manner, with the Church of England playing a less prominent role.

The next coronation, expected to be that of Prince Charles, will come at a time of increasingly varied religious views and beliefs. The report, published after a two-year inquiry, says the amount of people identifing as ‘non-religious’ extends to almost half the population. It will be welcome news for the Prince of Wales who has previously said he would like a more diverse representation of beliefs when becomes King.

Charles, who is set to become Supreme Governor of the Church of England on his accession, has spoken of his desire to be “defender of faiths” as opposed to focusing on the singular religious belief. This latest report raises questions over whether he would be able to maintain such a holistic viewpoint as the head of the Church.

Baroness Butler-Sloss, chairwoman of the inquiry, has said that religion and belief still plays a major part in “our daily lives”, saying the report’s findings and recommendations are “intended to provide space and a role for all within society, regardless of their beliefs or a sense of them.”

Other recommendations of the report include the scrapping of Christian assemblies for schoolchildren and appointing more religious leaders of alternative beliefs to the House of Lords, which is currently dominated by Anglican bishops.

The Royal Family has been Anglican in its beliefs for many years although senior royals, including The Queen, are aware of the increasing diversity of religion in the UK and undertake numerous engagements focuses on the work of various faiths in communities, both in Britain and on their overseas tours.

The report’s findings come almost two weeks after The Queen opened the Church of England’s 10th General Synod, saying the Church “will have to grapple with difficult issues”.

At the last coronation, Her Majesty’s in 1953, the proceedings followed a format largely unchanged in thousands of years. The monarch is presented to, and acclaimed by, the people before swearing an oath to the Church and being annoited with oil – usually all done by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Plans for Prince Charles’s coronation will have already been drawn up, especially as he begins to take on more engagements as The Queen reduces her workload. Final plans will not however, be publicly released until he is King.

About author

James is Royal Central's Director of Broadcasting and Communications. He's a recognised royal commentator and correspondent and has experience with numerous TV and radio networks including the BBC, ITV, Sky, CNN and MSNBC among others.