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King Charles III

Could Charles III be the first monarch to be seen performing a very ancient rite?

History was made on 10 September 2022 when the Ascension Council of King Charles III was televised, as it was the first time in history that the council has been publicly viewed. We may have another historic moment coming on 6 May 2023 at The King’s coronation, as another historic moment may be made public for the first time. 

There are several religious elements during the British coronation service, a ceremony that dates back to 973.

One of the most important elements is the anointing. After The King takes his oath, Zadok the Priest will be sung, and he will then be seated in King Edward’s Chair, commonly called the Coronation Chair. The chair will have the Stone of Scone lodged underneath, representing the Scottish monarchy. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury will then anoint Charles with holy oil. Historically, this part of the service has not been photographed or filmed as it is considered sacred. The anointing takes place under a golden canopy to provide privacy. 

However, there are now reports circulating that a transparent canopy is being made for the May coronation in order to allow the entire ceremony to be filmed and for the public to witness it. 

The Royal School of Needlework has reportedly started working on the new canopy. Founded as the School of Art Needlwork in 1872, the RSN’s first president was Princess Helena, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s fifth child.

The RSN has been based at Hampton Court Palace since 1987. For King George VI’s 1937 coronation, they worked with Toye to make the velvet cushions used to carry the crowns into Westminster Abbey, and for Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation, they completed the embroidery used in Her Majesty’s Robe of Estate. 

The new King is working to strive a balance between maintaining traditions and helping the monarchy evolve, and choices like this will only help bring the monarchy into the twenty-first century. 

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