The bunting is down, the street party has faded into happy memory. The Coronation was a spectacle to take the breath away, and television drew us all into it. What now? It was not one point in time, but the start, or the restart, of an ongoing mutual devotion of people and their sovereign, and accordingly to the reassertion of the commonwealth between the people.
I gladly said (as any true Hobbesian Briton should have):
‘I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God. ‘”
The coronation is the party, but is nothing alone: it stands not for itself but to found a reign – just as a wedding is a celebration but is ultimately unimportant: the important thing is the years of marriage which follow. A wedding can be a quiet, registry office ceremony, or a lavish church service with choir and organ (or one of those modern ones where you try to bankrupt your family by making them buy tickets to the West Indies) and it does not matter – it is merely symbolic of the vows which are taken and marks a gateway to married life. In the same way, a coronation can be as glorious as that which we have watched, worthy of the King of all the world’s greatest kingdoms, or a dull swearing like those of the Norse kings: the important thing is the reign which follows, and the important thing about a reign is the unity of the nation’s bond with itself.
Ceremony is important, as a firm memory to the mind of what unites nation and what it undertakes as a mutually dependent entity, as well as reminding the King. The impossible grandeur puts all subjects on a level: who could have airs and graces in comparison? No priest, no politician, howsoever high, can maintain his or her haughtiness in he face of it: we are all equal.
A coronation also cements succession. The law indeed guarantees the King his place, but this shows the whole force of the state guaranteeing it. It is vital, as Hobbes says, for without succession at the death of the sovereign the whole commonwealth is dissolved. Any uncertainty opens a doorway for adventurers acting for their own advantage not the nation’s.
God save the King – long to reign over us.
- The heart of kings is unsearchable
- And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king
- Beauty was reclaimed