THE suggestion of the retired bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, that readings from the Koran should be used at the next coronation raised eyebrows at Buckingham Palace.
The occasion is one the royal household avoids discussing, but that doesn’t mean plans aren’t being whispered about. It appears that Charles would rather like at least two “coronations” when he finally gets the chance to wear the crown.
The coronation ceremony is itself only one stage of the process of assuming the throne. The monarch actually gets the job immediately after his/her predecessor takes a last breath. There is no break. A formal proclamation from the balcony at St James’s Palace legitimises the reign before the Church of England then takes over proceedings.
‘Black spider memo’
Next comes the Protestant Declaration, which usually takes place at the state opening of parliament (Elizabeth performed hers at the top of her debut speech in November 1952, ten months after the death of her father). The coronation comes after that, and despite all the glitter and pomp which have surrounded it in the past, it is really just a setting for making the Coronation Oath.
Charles’s preference is for a much shorter and simpler ceremony than past ones, and he will do his utmost to include other Christian denominations in prominent roles. Indeed, one of his “black spider memos” suggests replacing the word “Protestant” with “Christian” in the oaths.
Multi-faith and multi-cultural
For the second ceremony, to be held a month later, Charles would like a high profile multi-faith and multi-cultural celebration along the lines of the annual Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey, where all faiths are equal and all traditions given free rein. As he can’t be crowned twice this would be what is being called an “affirmation” service, possibly in York Minster although a Scottish venue would be preferred so that the Honours of Scotland could be given due prominence. To maintain momentum, a month after this Charles would like to publicly invest William as Prince of Wales - although how the Welsh will react is anyone’s guess given that they weren’t all that keen on the last such event at Caernarfon in 1969.
Charles then hopes to leave William in charge while he sets off on a tour of whatever realms might still be ready to call him king. That, at least, is what he plans now, at the age of 66. With Brenda showing no sign of giving up the ghost, it may yet prove to be merely his latest pipedream.