The Eyes of the world on the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla
By Rolene Marks
On May the 6th, the eyes of the world will be trained on Westminster Abbey in London as King Charles is crowned the Most High, Most Mighty and Most Excellent Monarch, our Sovereign Lord, Charles III, now, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of His other Realms and Territories King, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, and Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. A long title to be sure – and one that comes with a 1000 year old history and a great sense of responsibility, duty and service.
Britain is a constitutional monarchy and the King is the living embodiment of that contract between constitution, people and sovereign. This was on full splendid display at the accession ceremony following the death of her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
While the King cannot send anyone to the Tower (although I think he has been tempted to send a few errant members of his family to the great fortress) or has any real power, he is the very symbol of the United Kingdom, the consummate diplomat, deploying that soft diplomacy and convening power only royalty can.
For many of us, this will be the first time we will see a Coronation. It has been 70 years since the last one, when a beautiful 26 Queen Elizabeth, resplendent in her robes and crown, bearing the symbols of power, the scepter and orb, was revealed to the world.
The coronation will be a great moment in history and it is only the British Royal Family that officially crown their monarchs by holding a ceremony like this which will not only have the pageantry and splendor that Britain is renowned for but it also has great spiritual significance. The monarch is the head of the Anglican Church and will take the sacred vow to be “defender of the faith”. Over 2000 invited guests will gather in the medieval abbey, 7000 military personnel including serving British armed personnel called in from their posts as far as Estonia and Iraq, and others from 40 different countries of the Commonwealth will provide a spectacular parade.
Of course many (like me!) will be glued to the television, eagerly awaiting the carriages and crowns, gowns and tiaras, horses and soldiers and the iconic gathering of Royal family members on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
As King Charles is crowned, we wonder who the man beneath the glittering Crown is.
Heavy is the head who wears the crown and the King has been preparing for decades. King Charles has worked and campaigned tirelessly during his life on causes that have been very close to his heart. As Prince of Wales, he recognized that many young people were falling through the cracks and unable to find employment. Following his discharge from his service in the Royal Navy, he took the salary he received as a naval officer and established The Prince’s Trust. The Prince’s Trust offers courses that help young people aged 11-30 to develop essential life skills, get ready for work and access job opportunities. The Prince’s Trust assists them to find work because having a job or running a business can lead to a more stable, fulfilling life. One of the most famous beneficiaries is the actor, Idris Elba. To date, The Prince’s Trust has helped over a million young people.
King Charles has always been passionate about spirituality and the environment and is known to be somewhat of a workaholic. As he takes the vow to be “defender of the faith”, he is on record as saying that he would like to be the defender of faiths and is often seen at events of different religions. The King danced up a storm with Holocaust survivors during Chanukah and counted the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks as amongst his close friends.
It is his love of the environment that King Charles is probably the most recognized. Once ridiculed for his fondness for talking to his plants, (he must be doing something right – have you seen the gardens at Highgrove, his estate in Gloucestershire?), the King has followed in the footsteps of his late father, the Duke of Edinburgh; and made saving the environment and being sustainable a priority. Even his Coronation invitation displays his love of all things natural.
The King was years ahead of his time, an early adopter, long before climate was the cause du jour.
Known to be an intellectual, King Charles embraces a broad range of interests but none as loved as his wife and consort, Queen Camilla. Queen Camilla is the love of the King’s life and we are all familiar with the difficult trajectory of their story. This is the juncture when I hope we can let the much-loved late Diana, Princess of Wales rest in peace, as she deserves and wish their Majesties well.
Tabloids have feasted on the foibles on the Royal Family for years and the King and Queen have not been spared (pun very much intended). In recent years, it is the unedifying behaviour of his younger son, Prince Harry and his wife that are the fodder of daily headlines. It is the hope of many that the King and his errant younger son will reconcile in the future.
Many who have met the King and Queen speak of how warm and invested they are in whomever they meet. Queen Camilla who has borne the brunt of some of the most salacious media treatment, has earned the respect and many say even love from Britons as she has kept her head down and focused on the causes close to her heart like domestic violence and the elderly. Her recently launched “The Queen’s Reading Room” has also proven to be a hit. At the end of the day, she is the strong woman behind her husband and keeps him calm and focused.
Some say King Charles will be a “caretaker King” as he prepares his heir, Prince William to be King along with his consort, Catherine. The Princess of Wales is currently the most loved of all the Royal family members. With their three enchanting children, Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte, the future of the monarchy is in safe hands. Some of us will be watching Prince Louis to see if the 5-year-old will entertain us as he did during his beloved great-grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee last year, delighting us with his cute expressions.
This weekend, the eyes of the world will focus on the 40th monarch crowned in Westminster Abbey. It will be a moment in time, replete with splendour. The State of Israel will be represented by our President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal who will keep with the laws of Shabbat by walking to the Abbey. There they will join Rabbi Mervis, who the King kindly said could stay overnight at his London residence, Clarence House, so that he may observe Shabbat.
This is the kindness of a King who has waited a lifetime for this moment, who has been misunderstood and often mocked but who remains a sovereign devoted to his people, family and role. As we herald in the Carolean Age, we offer our hearty Mazel Tov.
G-d save the King.
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