Borrowing the Crown

It will be a spectacle on Saturday, to be sure.  For when Charles III–perhaps the longest man ever to wait for his real job to finally kick in–is crowned in Westminster Abbey the symbolism will more than outweigh the sentiments.  What’s more, those in Christian circles will instantly recognize many of the words that will be said.

When a fourteen-year-old chorister welcomes the king, for instance, Charles will respond by saying, “In His name and after His example, I come not to be served but to serve.”

When the moderator of the Church of Scotland presents a red-leather bound bible to the sovereign—presumably a King James Version, just to keep it in the family—Charles will symbolically acknowledge a source of truth greater than any other.

When the Prime Minister—a Hindu—reads from Colossians 1.9-17, He will remind those assembled that in Christ “all things were created, things in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rules or authorities,” for “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”

Similarly, Charles will be anointed with oil harvested from two groves from the Mount of Olives, pressed just outside Bethlehem, and consecrated by both the Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Anglican Archbishop from there.

And then when the crimson Robe of State is put upon Charles, who will be wearing a simple white shirt befitting one who comes before God as a servant, the Archbishop of Canterbury will say: “Receive this Robe.  May the Lord clothe you with the robe of righteousness and with the garments of salvation.”

All of which is appropriate indeed for stepping into a role in which he will be not simply the British Head of State, but the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and, according to the original words at least, the “Defender of the Faith,” a la Jude 3, not simply a defender of more generic faith as Charles himself has suggested the title should read.

What appears to be missing, however, are the words which long ago a different Archbishop of Canterbury pronounced when he laid the crown upon the head of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II: “I give thee, o sovereign lady, this crown to wear until He who reserves the right to wear it shall return.”

And those would seem to be the most important words of all.  For even with an English son-in-law and grandchildren, and a daughter who just this week received her dual citizenship in England, all the pomp and circumstance in the world should not cloud us to one undeniable truth:  Supreme sovereignty lies with God alone.  So, if we have been granted a position in which to exercise authority over others ourselves—such as a monarch, a president, a teacher, a boss, a bishop, or even a parent—we do so only on His behalf in this world.

Or to put it another way, all crowns on this earth are only borrowed. Whether those words are said or not on Saturday, here’s hoping that all of us, including the new King and Queen of England, may remember that.

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11 Responses to Borrowing the Crown

  1. Carol Cobb says:

    Amen and Amen. This us so wonderful and meaningful. We will reference this writing in our minds as we watch the – not THE – Coronation on Saturday. TU. Dr Chap💥💥💥. The Cobbs

  2. Jerry Vaughan says:


    I love the weaving of history church and state in this issue. Theologically you then remind of simple Biblical truths.

  3. Larry Harman says:

    Great insight! Thanks for always turning the light on for us, Chap….

  4. Steve Matthews says:

    Love the background story and the message, Chappell. We would all be well served to focus on that which is important and eternal, and to recognize that which is temporary (and therefor less important). Man’s power and authority are temporary, and we should be focused (ultimately for our own good) on obedience to the one who created us for His pleasure.

  5. Kathe Behrend says:

    Thankyou for this reminder. So timely for the present. Can’t wait to see it all unfold. I am old enough to have watched Queen Elizabeth the Second’s coronation. 🙂

  6. Steve Harvey says:

    Yes and Amen–says the Englishman.

  7. Marilynn Scanlin says:

    Thanks for the message, Dr. Chap. I also was a witness to Queen Elizabeth’s coronation as a young girl.

  8. Bill & Pat Hood says:

    We thought your explanation of The Coronation was beautiful. It touched our hearts. We did not know it was so God honoring. The point you made that the crown is only borrowed a short time at one point our Great King will come back and reign forever.
    We love and appreciate you
    Give our love to Julie

  9. Paula Kopczynski says:

    I love how you explained The Coronation! So God honoring is right! Good reminder that the crown is only borrowed for a short time and Jesus will be back!!
    Miss you and Julie!!

  10. dvgrieve says:

    Your commentary is so much more important that the hours of reporting on fashion, family drama, pomp and circumstance. Too bad the BBC did not include this reflection.

  11. Don Henderson says:

    Always interesting to see and read a commentary about the coronation from your biblical and scholarly view. I enjoyed watching the ceremony as I suppose many in the USA did. Still it is good to think about the ceremony considering your insight and comments. Thanks for sharing.

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