One Coronation, two Univ Masters
Among the guests at the Coronation of King Charles III on 6 May were Univ’s current Master, Baroness Amos, and former Master, Lord Butler of Brockwell. Baroness Amos and Lord Butler are both members of the Order of the Garter.
Lord Butler of Brockwell (1957, Classics), Master of Univ 1998–2008, wrote the following report about the occasion.
Coronation of Charles III, 6 May 2023
Baroness Amos had an important role. Splendidly robed as a Lady of the Garter, she was charged with presenting the king to those on the north side of the Abbey (of whom I was one) and asking whether we were willing to do homage and service to the King. The response – “God save King Charles“ – signified that those present recognised King Charles as the rightful king.
This recognition was a necessary precursor to the king, laying his hand on the Bible and taking the coronation oaths to govern the people of the United Kingdom and his other realms in accordance with their laws and customs.
There then followed a service built on the structure of the Anglican, communion service, but incorporating elements of even greater antiquity, stretching back as far as the anointing of King Solomon in the Old Testament. As I thought about Univ’s claimed history going back to King Alfred, and looked at the Abbey coat of arms with its cross and martlets so familiar to us, I felt that Univ shared an affinity with the rites I was witnessing but that those rites went even further back than our College’s long history.
As the king was presented with the regalia of his office – the Spurs, the Sword of offering, the Bracelets, the Robe Royal, the Ring of the Covenant with God, the Glove of Mercy, the Orb, the Sceptre and eventually the Crown – all of such antiquity – I could not help feeling the weight of history which was being placed upon him. My heart went out to him. I felt that this was a heavy burden for a man to bear, and I was all the more touched by the supportive kiss which the Prince of Wales, in pledging his loyalty, placed on his father’s cheek.
Much more could be written about the way in which the Service had been adapted to reflect the modern diversity of the United Kingdom, both ethnic and religious, clearly reflecting the King’s personal priorities; about the magnificence of the music, again showing the King’s hand; about the processions to and from the abbey; and finally the hugely impressive military parade, all meticulously planned and (so far as I could see) faultlessly executed.
It was an unforgettable experience to witness, and to feel part of, this extraordinary event as our nation shared our history and our present day character with the world.
Lord Butler of Brockwell (1957, Classics), Master of Univ 1998–2008