UK Ambassador to the Holy See foresees excellent relations under
King Charles III

 UK Ambassador to the Holy See foresees  excellent relations under King Charles  iii  ING-018
05 May 2023

Christopher Trott, His Majesty’s Ambassador to the Holy See, highlights several new elements of the Coronation, and expresses confidence for a continued fruitful and warm relationship between the British government and the Vatican under the new King. The following is an extract of an article published on Vatican News, which can be viewed in its entirety at html.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin is to represent Pope Francis and the Holy See at the Coronation of King Charles iii and Queen Camilla in Westminster Abbey on 6 May 2023, a historic occasion steeped in history but tinged with modernity.

In an interview with Vatican News, His Majesty’s Ambassador to the Holy See said he looks forward to developing further the excellent relationship that exists between the British monarch and the Vatican. And “as something of a history geek,” Ambassador Chris Trott dwelt on some significant details that firmly place the ancient ceremony in the new millennium.

First of all, he said, it will be the first time a papal representative will have been present for the Coronation inside Westminster Abbey since 1553.

The ambassador explained it was prior to the Second Vatican Council when Queen Elizabeth ii was crowned in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. That meant, he added, that Pope Pius xii ’s representative in Britain had to follow the ceremony from an especially-built stand outside Westminster Cathedral — the Catholic mother church — that is situated some 400 metres from the Abbey.

The presence now of a papal representative inside the Abbey for the Coronation is not due to British government policy, he said: “It is a result of Vatican ii .”

“When Queen Elizabeth was crowned, the Vatican’s approach was not to allow members of the Church to participate in a ceremony run by a different Christian denomination.”

Thus, Ambassador Trott continued, the delegation sent a delegation to the 1953 Coronation headed by the Nuncio to Belgium, who had to sit on this platform outside the west door of the Abbey, and “when the service started, the doors closed and he was still outside.”

On this occasion, he said, two senior members of the Catholic Church (Cardinal Parolin and most probably the newly appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain) will be present in the Abbey and will be part of the Coronation service for the first time in almost 500 years.

“They will be assisting the public part of the ceremony,” the ambassador said, “They’ll be watching the crown being put on the King and the Queen. But probably they won’t be seeing the anointing ceremony, which I understand is a very private rite.”

Although the media is a lot more sophisticated than it was in 1953, and the King will try to maximize the reach of the Coronation ceremony, Ambassador Trott explained that after having sworn an oath to uphold the law and the Church, the King is partially undressed and anointed with holy oil. This, he said, is the most “sacred” part of the ceremony and will probably be screened from public view.

One of the novelties pertains to this sacred moment as the oil, that has been produced and blessed in Jerusalem, does not include any animal products as per a specific personal request of King Charles.

The religiosity of this moment, Ambassador Trott explained, “reflects the promises that the King makes to God as opposed to just his people.”

Among the many titles of the King are Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The ambassador said that “to say that this role is merely titular, would be underestimating it.”

“Symbolically, he is regarded as the head of the Church of England and technically, therefore, an archbishop of the Church of England would be appointed by the King. Because of the relationship between State and Church, the appointment of an archbishop, particularly the Archbishop of Canterbury, is done on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, to the monarch,” he said.

For Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth ii , faith played an important role in her governance. Ambassador Trott expressed his belief this trait will continue, as witnessed also by the fact that “the very first time he addressed his people, the day after Her Majesty the Queen died in September, he referred to the fact that his mother had used her faith as a basic foundation for everything that she did, and he also undertook to work on the same basis.”

“And while he’s always been interested in reaching out to other faiths, his faith is grounded in his Christian upbringing and his role as head of both the Church of England and the Church of Scotland,” he said.

Ambassador Trott expressed absolute confidence in being able to continue to develop the warm and fruitful diplomatic relations that thrived between the Holy See and the United Kingdom during the reign of Queen Elizabeth ii .

King Charles, he noted, has already met three Popes in his life: John Paul ii , Benedict xvi when he visited the UK, and Pope Francis.

By Linda Bordoni