How does one crown a king? After much rehearsal and with a steady hand, I suspect – and bated breath around the globe in that solemn moment.
There is a weightiness, not only to the physical act but its deep spiritual and symbolic import, which is hard to explain but nevertheless of immense value. For the coronation remains a profoundly Christian occasion, in which an ancient connection is made between earthly and divine power, and our monarch’s complete dependence on God for the grace to govern. The greater the authority - or majesty - the greater the need to emphasise this dependence. The Christian heart of our monarchy, much discussed and disputed, is an historic safeguard against vainglory and the abuse of power: it means that the anointing to rule becomes, inescapably, the anointing to serve in the pattern of Christ.
These are ideas requiring careful translation in an era when we have almost lost what was once instinctive in our culture – humility before the Almighty, whatever our station. Sceptical of God’s existence and suspicious of those who aren’t, the Christianity of our monarchy and all the mythmaking of a coronation appears to some as no more than an eccentric kind of national window-dressing. Whilst it may be this – and no worse for it - I believe the impending celebrations are also a reminder to our fretful, forgetful age of the higher yet humbler calling to which we may yet respond, while the Lord is near.