London: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will read from the biblical book of Colossians at the Coronation of King Charles III on May 6. Sunak will keep the recent tradition of British Prime Ministers giving readings at State occasions, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury informed as part of the official Liturgy for the religious ceremony at Westminster Abbey here on May 6.
Sunak, Britain's first Prime Minister of Indian heritage and a practising Hindu reading from a biblical book will resonate with the multi-faith theme being struck for the Christian ceremony. Lambeth Palace, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury – Reverend Justin Welby, said that for the first time, members of other faith traditions will play an active role in the service.
Rishi Sunak to read Colossians
"The Archbishop of Canterbury has selected a new Epistle for this Coronation, which will be Colossians 1:9-17. This passage has been chosen to reflect the theme of service to others, and the loving rule of Christ over all people and all things, which runs through this Coronation Liturgy," Lambeth Palace said. "Following the recent tradition of British Prime Ministers giving readings at State occasions – as Head of the host Nation's government – this will be read by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak,” it added.
By longstanding tradition, the Archbishop of Canterbury authorises a new Liturgy – or the form according to which public religious worship takes place – for every Coronation. The three oaths the King at the heart of the service remain unchanged, including the promise to maintain "the Protestant Reformed Religion".
The overall theme of the Liturgy is “Called to Serve”, which is intended to reflect the commitment that the King will make to serve God and the people of the United Kingdom. "I am delighted that the service will recognise and celebrate tradition, speaking to the great history of our nation, our customs, and those who came before us. At the same time, the service contains new elements that reflect the diversity of our contemporary society,” said Welby.
His office said the service has been designed to reflect the changes in the UK since Charles’ mother Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953, the character of Britain as it is today, and the Church of England’s role in contemporary society. As one of the newer elements, the 74-year-old monarch will pray aloud in the Abbey using words specially written for the occasion that reflect the “duty and privilege of the Sovereign to serve all communities”.
PM Sunak, wife Akshata to lead with UK flag at Coronation
British Prime Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty will be at the head of a procession of flag-bearers as the UK’s flag is carried by a high-ranking Royal Air Force (RAF) cadet at the Coronation ceremony. "Flags of each Realm will be carried by national representatives accompanied by the Governors-General and Prime Ministers. Bearing the flag of the United Kingdom ahead of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Mrs Akshata Murty will be Cadet Warrant Officer Elliott Tyson-Lee,” Buckingham Palace said.
The ceremonial roles on the day include bearing the regalia in the procession and presenting the items to the King and Queen on the day.
Presentation of the Regalia by Members of House of Lords
Lambeth Palace confirmed that the Presentation of the Regalia will be made by Members of the House of Lords and for the first time, some of the items which have no Christian meaning or symbolism will be presented by peers who belong to different faith traditions: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.
Buckingham Palace had previously confirmed that Lord Narendra Babubhai Patel, 84, will represent the Hindu faith and hand over the Sovereign’s Ring to Charles. While Lord Indrajit Singh, 90, will represent the Sikh faith and present the Coronation Glove, Lord Syed Kamall, 56, of Indo-Guyanese heritage, will represent the Muslim faith and present the Armills or a pair of bracelets. "At the end of the procession at the close of the service, before His Majesty proceeds to the Gold State Coach, the King will receive and acknowledge a spoken greeting delivered in unison by Representatives from Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Buddhist communities," Lambeth Palace said.
The thousands congregated at the Abbey and millions expected to be watching on screens as the ceremony is telecast live will be invited to say the words: "I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law – so help me God".
The five elements of the historic "English Coronation Rite” will take place in their traditional order: The Recognition; The Oath; The Anointing; The Investiture and Crowning; and The Enthronement and Homage. These elements will take place within the traditional structure of a service of Holy Communion, including prayers and Bible readings, and King Charles and Queen Camilla will receive Holy Communion during the service.
The Coronation Service
According to The Royal Family, the Coronation of The King and The Queen Consort will take place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6th May 2023.
The Service will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and will reflect the Monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.
Their Majesties will arrive at Westminster Abbey in procession from Buckingham Palace, known as ‘The King’s Procession’.
After the Service, Their Majesties will return to Buckingham Palace in a larger ceremonial procession, known as ‘The Coronation Procession’. Their Majesties will be joined in this procession by other Members of the Royal Family.
At Buckingham Palace, The King and The Queen Consort, accompanied by Members of the Royal Family, will appear on the balcony to conclude the day’s ceremonial events.'
How to watch: details of how and where to watch the service are available on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website.
(With PTI inputs)