Coronation pledge of allegiance will be changed at King Charles’ request

Charles’s close friend said Archbishop’s call for pledge of allegiance was ‘ill-advised’

Thomas Kingsley,Tom Murray
Saturday 06 May 2023 15:18 BST
A history of royal coronations in the UK

The public pledge of allegiance to King Charles at the coronation ceremony will be changed, according to reports.

Earlier this week, Charles asked for the people’s oath to be toned down, following backlash from the public and his own allies, including broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby.

Dimbleby, a close friend of the King, called the “homage of the people” an “ill-advised” idea and not what the monarch would have wanted.

“I can’t think of anything he would find more abhorrent,” he told the Today Programme.

In a statement to The Guardian, a spokesperson for Lambeth Palace has confirmed the introductory words to the pledge “will be changed” ahead of the King’s coronation on Saturday 6 May.

“The homage of the people was always an invitation rather than expectation,” they said.

The decision to change the wording “reflects the collaborative approach that has been taken throughout the coronation planning”, the spokesperson added.

The nation has been invited to pledge allegiance to the King for the first time (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

During his appearance, Dimbleby said: “[Charles] never wanted to be revered. He’s never wanted anyone to pay homage to him except in mock terms as a joke.”

He added: “He wants, I think, to feel the people will share in the event and I don’t quite know how this might have happened.”

Late on Friday (5 May), The Times reported that the wording of the new Homage of the People would be altered at the king’s request.

The Archbishop was initially set to call upon “all persons of goodwill in The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of the other Realms and the Territories to make their homage, in heart and voice, to their undoubted King, defender of all”.

Instead, he will now “invite” people to “offer their support”, emphasising that this could be with a moment of private reflection.

Night rehearsals for the coronation took place this week (PA Wire)

Dimbleby said it seemed the initiative had come from the Archbishop, “who is strongly evangelical”.

“I think it was well-intentioned, but rather ill-advised,” he added.

The oath had been branded “an offensive and tone-deaf gesture that holds the people in contempt” by the campaign group Republic.

The order of service at the coronation will read: “All who so desire, in the Abbey, and elsewhere, say together: ‘I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.’”

It will be followed by the playing of a fanfare.

Royal fans camping outside along the mall in preparation for the coronation (AFP/Getty)

The Homage of the People will replace the traditional Homage of Peers, in which a long line of hereditary peers used to kneel and make a pledge to the monarch in person. The purpose of both oaths remains the same, however: to represent the pledge taker’s dedication to the monarch as the monarch is crowned.

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop’s office, said: “The Homage of the People is particularly exciting because that’s brand new.

Jonathan Dimbleby said the decision for the public to pledge allegiance is ‘ill-advised’ (EPA)

“That’s something that we can share in because of technological advances, so not just the people in the Abbey, but people who are online, on television, who are listening, and who are gathered in parks, at big screens and churches.

“Our hope is at that point, when the Archbishop invites people to join in, that people wherever they are, if they’re watching at home on their own, watching the telly, will say it out loud – this sense of a great cry around the nation and around the world of support for the King.”

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