Camilla to break with tradition with public anointing during coronation service

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The Queen Consort will be anointed in full public view at the coronation in a break with tradition, and will be presented with a ring which “marries” her as consort to the King.

Camilla will be consecrated with holy oil without being hidden under a canopy, in contrast to the late Queen Mother’s coronation.

She will also only touch the controversial ivory Queen Consort’s Rod with Dove, and the gold Queen Consort’s Sceptre with Cross, rather than holding them like the Queen Mother.

Buckingham Palace described the change as “just one of a number of ways in which the service has been adapted, evolved, simplified without losing any of its magic and majesty”.

King Charles III Coronation
The anointing screen which will be used for the King (Victoria Jones/PA)

As details were revealed of the coronation liturgy, Lambeth Palace described how the Queen Consort’s Ring, an octagonal mixed-cut ruby surrounded by 14 diamonds, bears the symbolism of a ring exchanged in marriage.

A spokesman for the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “It signifies covenant and agreement, an unbroken bond, without end.

“It ‘marries’ Consort to King, and them both to God in duty and to the people in loving service, and in turn acts as an assurance of God’s unfailing love.”

Lambeth Palace said the uncovered anointing symbolises Camilla’s role as a consort rather than a reigning monarch.

But it marks a change from the coronation of the last Queen consort – Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother – in 1937 who was anointed under a canopy.

Royalty – Coronation of King George VI – London
Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) with Princess Elizabeth after the coronation of King George VI (PA)

The Palace said, that in comparison to the King: “This anointing will happen without a screen or canopy to demonstrate the different nature of anointing a consort compared to a reigning sovereign, as this anointing is at the permission of the sovereign.”

Archbishop Justin Welby, writing in the official coronation souvenir programme, said Charles will swap his “robes of status and honour” for a simple white shirt for the private anointing during the May 6 ceremony.

He wrote that the historic occasion will be one of “magnificence and pomp” but also, in the midst of the ceremony, one of “stillness and simplicity” when the King is anointed with holy oil in private under a canopy, in the most sacred part of the coronation.

Elizabeth II was also anointed in private as is the tradition.

Camilla’s ring – made for Queen Adelaide in 1831 – will be presented to her and she will acknowledge it before it is placed back on the altar, in contrast to the Queen Mother, who had it placed on the fourth finger of her right hand and wore it for the rest of the ceremony.

Similarly the King will not wear the Sovereign’s Ring as is the usual custom.

This ring – a large sapphire and diamond cluster with baguette-cut rubies in the form of a cross, made for William IV in 1831 – is known as the Wedding Ring of England and it marries the monarch to God in duty and to the people in service.

In 1937, Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother, was presented with the sceptre in her right hand and the ivory rod in her left.

Camilla instead will acknowledge the historic items by touching them, Buckingham Palace said.

Her stepson the Prince of Wales has long campaigned to stop the illegal trafficking of animal parts, like rhino horn and elephant ivory, through his umbrella organisation United for Wildlife.

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