DemDaily: A Crowning Moment
May 8, 2023
Charles III was crowned the United Kingdom's king on Saturday, in a ceremony watched worldwide by an estimated 18.8 million people. The oldest monarch to ascend to the British throne at 73, Charles succeeds his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away September 8, 2022 at the age of 96.
The queen, who took the throne in 1952, was the longest reigning British sovereign in history.
The British Monarchy
Under the British Constitution, executive authority for "His Majesty's Government," the governing bodies of the United Kingdom and and its 14 other Commonwealth realms, lies with the monarch.
The monarch, however, takes little direct part in government, which is run by a Parliament, Cabinet and Prime Minister, who is officially appointed by the King and is typically the leader of the majority political party or coalition.
Otherwise referred to as the sovereign or "His Majesty" (H.M.), the monarch is also the Supreme Governor of the established Church of England and the commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. His role, however, is largely ceremonial.
|A monarchy is a form of government in which a single person holds supreme authority in ruling a country. Although some monarchs are elected, in most cases the monarch's position is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. The governing power of the monarch may be purely symbolic (crowned republic), partial and restricted (constitutional monarchy), or completely autocratic (absolute monarchy). There are forty-three sovereign states in the world with a monarch as head of state.
The British monarchy is one of the oldest in the world, and unquestionably the most iconic. The current Royal Family is directly descended from William the Conqueror, the first "Norman King" of England, who reigned from 1066 until his death in 1087.
Since 1917, when King George V changed the name of the royal house, members of the royal family have belonged, either by birth or by marriage, to the House of Windsor.
There is no strict legal definition of who is a member of the British royal family, but it generally includes the monarch, the children and male-line grandchildren of the monarch and previous monarchs, the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, and all of their current or widowed spouses. Charles has two children and five grandchildren.
"The royals" have long been a global fascination, which further exploded with the advent of the internet, the impact of media, and the ability to follow the real-life events of its members.
The near-obsession with the royal famly reached its height with the marriage of Charles, then the Prince of Wales, to Diana Spencer. More than 750 million people watched their 1981 fairytale wedding, and devoutly followed their marriage, the birth of their sons William and Harry, the circumstances that unfolded around their divorce, and finally Diana's tragic death in 1997.
The world has since watched William and Harry grow up, celebrated their marriages and children, and, more recently, scrutinized Harry's controverial relationship with the crown.
|"I come not to be served, but to serve." - King Charles III
Harry was nevertheless in attendance at the coronation at Westminster Abbey, along 2300 guests including heads of state, religious leaders and family friends. Dr. Jill Biden and her granddaughter Finnegan represented the United States.
Although the day was steeped in tradition and pageantry, there were some modern tweaks to the event, including the crowning of Charles' wife, Camilla, as queen. Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's husband, was known as "Consort of the Queen" and never crowned. Camilla's role, however, is extremely limited and lies entirely under Charles' descretion.
The historic event was primarily religious as Charles was being vested not only as head of state, but head of the Church of England.
The coronation oath featured a new pledge, created by the Archbishop of Canterbury, welcoming all faiths -- a possible nod to an increasingly diverse United Kingdom which is also more skeptical of the monarchy as an institution.
A survey by the National Centre for Social Research, conducted just prior to the coronation, shows public support for the monarchy has fallen to a historic low. A total of 45% of respondents said either it should be abolished, was not at all important or not very important.
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Sources: CNN, Fortune, NBC, Daily Express, CBS, Wiki