The public have been invited to swear their allegiance to King Charles and his reign during his coronation, in a move that has been widely criticised.
The King’s coronation is set to take place this coming weekend, and will include a prompt for everyone in attendance in Westminster Abbey, and those watching at home, to take part in a “homage of the people”.
This promise will replace the “homage of peers” which has taken place at previous coronations, with the change reflecting a more modern UK and Commonwealth.
After the King is crowned during the historic ceremony, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will invite the congregation, including an expected global audience of millions, to pledge their allegiance with the words, “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 former promise of the Homage of Peers often took more than hour, and saw a long line of hereditary peers kneel and make a pledge to the monarch in person.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s office Lambeth Palace said plans for the “Homage of the People” section of ceremony on Saturday would be “very much an invitation rather than an expectation”.
The move has prompted a wave of backlash by some sectors of the community, with Graham Smith, a spokesman for anti-monarchy group Republic, slamming the change.
“In a democracy it is the head of state who should be swearing allegiance to the people, not the other way around,” he said.
“This kind of nonsense should have died with Elizabeth I, not outlived Elizabeth II.”
“In swearing allegiance to Charles and his ‘heirs and successors’, people are being asked to swear allegiance to Prince Andrew too. This is clearly beyond the pale.”
The outrage continued on social media, with some suggesting the allegiance was “royal pantomime at the taxpayers’ expense”, while others said it “makes no sense at all”.
Despite the public outcry, Lambeth Palace defended the oath, saying it hoped the change would result in a “great cry around the nation and around the world of support for the King”.
The statement said: “It’s simply an opportunity offered by the Archbishop so that, unlike previous coronations, those who wish to join in with the words being spoken by the Abbey congregation could do so in a very simple way.”
“For those who do want to take part, some will want to say all the words of the homage; some might just want to say ‘God Save The King’ at the end; others might just want it to be a moment of private reflection.”
“We live in a wonderfully diverse society with many different perspectives and beliefs, and it’s quite right that people decide for themselves how they relate to this moment.”
“For those who may wish to join in, we hope it’s a moment of joy and celebration – both in the Abbey, and in homes around the country and beyond.”
Image credits: Getty Images
This article first appeared on Over60.