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Watching the royal coronation? Augusta University professor shares how this ceremony is both traditional and modern

Eyes from around the world will be on Westminster Abbey in London this weekend as Charles III is crowned king following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Sept. 8, 2022.

As you might expect, there will be plenty of pageantry involved with the ceremony. Ruth McClelland-Nugent, PhD, is chair of History, Anthropology and Philosophy at Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and an expert on the royal family.

McClelland-Nugent said this is a major day for those in the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent, some parts of the Commonwealth “where the British monarch is also still monarch, such as Charles will become king of Canada as well as the U.K.”

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Ruth McClelland-Nugent, PhD

The coronation is a religious service of the Church of England so there will be a number of traditions upheld, such as anointing of the king with blessed oil, and by the end of the ceremony, Charles will have officially received his crown and his scepter as well as the traditional robes and stole that mark him as king. The crown and the orb that will be used during the coronation date back to 1661 for King Charles II. New crowns were needed after the Puritans melted the old ones down during the English Civil Wars.

“These are very traditional things, and reinforce the ancient idea that the monarch is selected by God to have authority over people,” said McClelland-Nugent. “However, for the first time, there will be participation from clergy of other faiths as well, since the king has invited clergy from the Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist faiths to participate, reflecting the great religious diversity in the U.K.”

She also said those watching the coronation, whether in person or virtually, will be invited to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch, giving the entire country a role in the ceremony for the first time.

“It will probably feel very formal and ancient to any Americans who watch it, and it is, but it will be the most informal and diverse coronation in recent British history,” McClelland-Nugent said.

Others in the royal family will also play roles in the ceremony. Queen Camilla will be crowned alongside Charles. Princess Anne, Charles’ sister, will lead a procession of armed forces and other personnel behind the new king and queen when they leave Westminster Abbey.

“Look for her to be on horseback. This is a highly prestigious role and not one carried out by a woman previously,” she added.

McClelland-Nugent said Prince William, Prince of Wales, who is now heir to the crown, will make an oath of loyalty directly to the newly crowned king.

Some of the king’s grandchildren and queen’s grandchildren will also serve roles during the coronation. 

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Written by
Kevin Faigle

Kevin Faigle is Media Relations Specialist at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at kfaigle@augusta.edu.

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Avatar photo Written by Kevin Faigle

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