My guess is that most people will spend at least some time this weekend watching the coronation, either live or highlights. Amidst all the pomp and celebrations, they will see a service in a church, because that is at the centre of the coronation. They will be watching a ceremony that can trace its Christian roots back to the 5th century, when the Patriarch of Constantinople would place a crown on the head of Eastern Roman emperor. But the service itself has roots well over a thousand years previous to that, borrowing words and symbols from the enthronement of the kings of the Bible. The king was seen as a person to represent God’s rule over the nation of Israel and so given authority. However, it was clearly understood that this authority was conditional on the ruler following God’s law; he was to be just and merciful, to defend the weak. The coronation was actually a contract, between the king, his subjects and God.
The three-way contract underlies the current coronation. We, as subjects of King Charles, have obligations to his representatives who govern us; it follows from this that we have responsibilities to each other. Charles is given authority, delegated to politicians and state officials, to rule, but this depends on just and fair administration of the law. And behind our and his rights and responsibilities lies God, the one who is wholly trustworthy and wholly love. The coronation reminds us that Charles and ourselves are accountable to the King of kings, the Lord of lords and the only Ruler of princes.
Perhaps there are some rulers who would do well to watch the coronation and be reminded themselves of the one to whom they must ultimately answer for their doings.