Mavaza: A History of British Coronations
6 May 2023
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By Dr Masimba Mavaza | Defined simply, the word “coronation” refers to a ceremony in which a king or a queen is crowned. The tradition traces its roots to antiquity, when Egyptian Pharaohs, Biblical kings and Gallic chiefs alike were inaugurated as rulers in public ceremonies. During the Middle Ages, coronations took on new religious significance, combining the crowning of monarchs with Christian rites like anointing.

The coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as king and Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms is to take place on Saturday, 6 May 2023, at Westminster Abbey. Charles ascended to the throne on 8 September 2022, upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II.
Prince Charles born as Charles Philip Arthur George was born at Buckingham Palace on 14th November 1948 at 9.14pm, weighing 7lbs 6oz. The Prince was christened on 15th December 1948 at Buckingham Palace. Charles became heir apparent (next in line to the throne) at the age of three years old in 1952, and went onto become the longest serving Prince of Wales in 2017. His Majesty was the first heir to see his mother crowned as Sovereign.The King has three siblings, two sons, two step-children, five grandchildren and five step-grandchildren.

His Majesty’s first visit abroad was to Malta, when he was five years old. Since 1969, he has visited 48 Commonwealth countries, many of them on several occasions.

The King was the first heir to the throne to earn a university degree. The King studied archaeology and anthropology in his first year at the University of Cambridge, switching to history for the remainder of his degree. His Majesty also spent a term at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth (April to June 1969) learning Welsh.

While at school, The King played the piano, trumpet and cello. He continued to play the cello while an undergraduate at Cambridge, performing in a symphony concert by the Trinity College Orchestra on 4th December 1967.

His Majesty obtained his RAF Royal Air Force wings as Flight Lieutenant Wales in August 1971.

The King commanded HMS Bronington in 1976, while serving in the Royal Navy.
His Majesty started charity The Prince’s Trust with his Navy severance pay of just over £7000 in 1976. The charity has now supported over one million young people.
His Majesty was the first member of The Royal Family to successfully complete the Parachute Regiment’s training course, before he was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment in 1977.

In 1980 King Charles visited Zimbabwe on the eve of independence. Many would remember the young Prince Charles listening to a song by Chinx Chingaira. ( Takura Shoko unoda Mambokadzi Mukoma Chale.”

On the eve of his marital problems The King was offered some Zimbabwean medicine to stabilise his family by a Mbare traditional herbs vendor.
The King maintained his good relations with Zimbabwe shaking the hand of president Mugabe at the funeral of the pope in Rome against all protocol which was set by the sanction givers. Because of his love for Afriva The King, as Prince of Wales, was given the title, ‘Keeper of the Cows’, by the Masai in Tanzania in 2011 to recognise his work as a farmer.
In the Pacific Island of Vanuatu, His Majesty was given the title Mal Menaringmanu (High Chief) in 2018.

But what really happens in the coronation. A coronation ceremony for, successively, the monarchs of England and Scotland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom can be traced back more than 1,000 years. Formerly, it was often a necessary stage on an individual’s journey to becoming king or queen. Nowadays, a sovereign succeeds, by law, immediately upon the death of another, although the ceremony remains an important event early in a new reign. Coronation is called the United Kingdom’s central constitutional ritual, and the cornerstone of its political traditions”.

Coronations emerged from a European tradition of increasing church involvement in the state, as well as the need to bring stability to often volatile societies in which several individuals had a claim to the throne. Central to the ceremony is the “unction”, the act of anointing a monarch with holy oil. This signals the conferment of God’s grace upon a ruler. Today, the United Kingdom is the only European monarchy to retain such a ceremony. That for Queen Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953.
Although British coronations have at their heart an Anglican service conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey, the ceremony combines not only religion but aspects of the UK’s uncodified constitution and a degree of theatre. Coronations emerged from a European tradition of increasing church involvement in the state, as well as the need to bring stability to often volatile societies in which several individuals had a claim to the throne. Central to the ceremony is the “unction”, the act of anointing a monarch with holy oil.

The king will take the coronation oath. What is the Coronation Oath?
The Coronation Oath, in which the monarch swears to govern the peoples of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms “according to their respective laws and customs” is the only aspect of the ceremony which is required by law. The wording of this oath has constantly evolved to reflect changes to the territorial composition of the UK and the wider Commonwealth.
As it is a state event, a coronation is paid for by the UK Government. Organisation involves ministers, the Royal Household, the Church of England and the Commonwealth Realms. A Privy Council “Coronation Committee” is usually formed to oversee the planning, and its Executive Committee is chaired by the Earl Marshal. This can take several months. A monarch also has significant influence on the form a coronation ceremony takes.
As Prince of Wales, His Majesty became President or Patron of over 800 charities and initiatives in total.
His Majesty is an author. He wrote The Old Man of Lochnagar, based on stories he told his younger brothers growing up. The King has also written books on the natural world and the environment including ‘Harmony’; and ‘Climate Change, a Ladybird Expert Book’.
The kings wife automatically becomes the queen. But the Queen’s husband of the Queen is the one ruling can never be the king. Her majesty Camilla Rosemary Shand was born on 17 July 1947 at King’s College Hospital, London.The Queen Consort’s parents are Major Bruce Middleton Hope Shand and the Hon Rosalind Maud Shand (nee Cubitt).
Her Majesty has personal links to military organisations connected to her father, Major Bruce Shand, who was awarded two military crosses. The Queen Consort has attended many occasions with veterans, serving soldiers and officers of the 9th/12th Lancers with whom her father served. Major Shand also fought with the Desert Rats in the Second World War before being captured during the Battle of El Alamein.
Her Majesty is the eldest of the three Shand children. The Queen Consort has a sister, Annabel Elliot and a brother, Mark Shand, who sadly passed away in 2014.
The King and The Queen Consort married in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall in Windsor on 9th April 2005. This was followed by a Service of Prayer and Dedication at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
To the true British the Coronation is a solemn religious service, together with an occasion for celebration and pageantry.The ceremony has retained a similar structure for over a thousand years, and this year’s Coronation is expected to include the same core elements while recognising the spirit of our times.For the last 900 years, the ceremony has taken place at Westminster Abbey, London. Since 1066, the service has almost always been conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”The Coronation will include many of the ceremonies that were seen in the late Queen’s service, such as the oath, anointing, homage and enthronment. 

The president of Zimbabwe, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa is attending this historic event.

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