Senior religious figures are present at King Charles’ Coronation in Westminster Abbey, taking part in a historic ceremony which celebrates Britain’s religious diversity and ecumenism.
Set within the Eucharistic service and presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, the Coronation Ceremony is rooted in the tradition of the Church of England.
The inclusion and participation of representatives of other faiths points however to a desire on the part of the Monarch for the Coronation to pay heed to the rich diversity of faith communities in Britain today.
Faith leaders from the Jewish, Sunni and Shia Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Baháʼí and Zoroastrian communities processed into the Abbey at the start of the ceremony.
They were followed by ecumenical leaders, in a procession ‘reflecting the diversity and richness of the Christian church in the UK today’.
Women bishops are also participating for the first time in a thousand years of Coronations.
The procession was led by a silver ‘Cross of Wales’, which contained two small relics of the True Cross of Christ; a personal gift from Pope Francis to King Charles ahead of the Coronation.
The ‘Cross of Wales’ itself was a gift from the King to the Church in Wales and is inscribed with the words of St David, taken from his last sermon: “Be joyful. Keep the faith. Do the little things.”
For the first time in over 400 years, a Catholic Archbishop will take part in a Coronation, with Cardinal Vincent Nichols of the Diocese of Westminster, and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, offering a blessing during the service.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, and Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendi, are also present, in a remarkable difference from 1953, when Papal representatives participated in the procession, but did not enter the Abbey.
Alongside Cardinal Vincent, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Thyateira & Great Britain, Nikitas Loulias, Moderator of the Free Churches, the Rev Helen Cameron, and the general secretary of Churches Together in England, Bishop Mike Royal offered their blessing over the King.
Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis, along with his Valerie, are also present at the Ceremony, which falls on the Jewish Sabbath.
The Chief Rabbi welcomed the invitation and accommodations made by the King and Queen, noting that he will not be using a microphone in accordance with the laws of Shabbat.
Tweeting last night, he said: “We are blessed to have a Monarch who holds a deep, personal conviction that there is great strength in the diversity of our country and who cherishes his warm relationship with British Jews.”
The Muslim Council of Britain also extended their congratulations to the King, commending his commitment to inclusivity.
Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “We recognise King Charles III’s long-standing work in improving the understanding of Islam and Muslims and his numerous interventions aimed at promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding between different communities.”
Faith communities will also play a key role in the Big Help Out, a national day of volunteering on Monday 8 May.
Featured image credit: BBC