Operation Golden Orb

Magazine May 2023

The Coronation weekend will soon be here. It is an historic moment in the history of the nation and indeed across the globe due to historic links. So, whatever a person’s view of the monarchy this will be a time to reflect on the ceremony which will articulate traditions that stretch back in time to our forebears. Some of this important symbolism I will touch on later.

The coronation at Westminster Abbey will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, according to a tradition that reaches back to 1066 almost uninterrupted. 

The most important part of the ceremony – code name ‘Operation Golden Orb’ – will involve King Charles being anointed with holy oil, receiving the orb, coronation ring and sceptre, and a prayer for his blessing followed by being consecrated. Monarchs traditionally have sat in the 14th-century King Edward’s Chair to be crowned with the St Edward’s crown. His wife Camilla will also be anointed and crowned, as was the Queen Mother when she was crowned Queen in 1937.

The symbolism is full of meaning. The St Edward’s Crown (dating back to 1661 and weighing 2.23Kg – almost 5 lb) is placed on Charles’ head whilst he is sitting on the King Edward’s Chair. This crown is crafted in solid gold and has a cross at its centre, the cross of Jesus Christ is no side show but central to what is going on. The King will hold two sceptres. The Sovereign’s Sceptre is a gold rod (0.91m = 3’) based on a shepherd’s crook, with a cross on top. It symbolises the power of the King but under God’s sovereignty. He also holds ‘The Rod of Equity and Mercy’, as a reminder to show mercy and kindness to his subjects. The King will then be given ‘The Sovereign’s Orb’, a golden sphere (hollow!) with a cross on top as a reminder of how his own reign is subject to a far greater King over all the world. ‘The Coronation Ring’ is symbolic of the monarch’s marriage to the nation.

The earthly rule points us to the one great Ruler. In the Holy Bible Jesus is given the title “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19v16). This title indicates that He has the power to exercise absolute dominion over all His realm, that is over all of creation. Ultimately all other rulers will be conquered or abolished, and He alone will reign supreme as King and Lord of all the earth. There is no power, no king, and no lord who can oppose Him and win. Jesus is the risen, ascended and reigns as our Sovereign.

Although an earthly monarch has modest authority, the delegated authority of King Charles is a pointer to the greater reality about Jesus Christ who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Let’s pray regularly for King Charles that he will use his role to serve his people and the wellbeing of the nations.      

Paul Kingman