‘Homage of the People’: should public pledge allegiance to King?

Call for millions of citizens to take coronation-day oath to newly crowned monarch Charles

King Charles III
The public is being asked to ‘pay true allegiance’ to King Charles and his heirs and successors
(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Plans to update the coronation of King Charles III by including a new Homage of the People have triggered anger and mockery as the big day approaches.

During the historic ceremony on Saturday 6 May, millions of viewers worldwide will be invited to “cry out and swear allegiance” to the monarch, said ITV News, marking “the first time in history” that the public will play “an active role” in a coronation.

The Homage of the People will replace the traditional Homage of Peers, in which hereditary peers would pledge allegiance to the monarch in person. But while the change seems intended to “widen access and engagement” with the ceremony, said LBC, critics claim the “tone deaf” oath “holds the people in contempt”.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

‘A very generous invitation’

According to The Sun, a “furious Palace row" erupted on Sunday after the office for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, unveiled plans for millions of citizens to “pay homage” to King Charles during the coronation. Viewers will be invited to say in unison: “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 oath idea must have seemed like “an easy win for inclusivity and modernity”, said The Daily Beast’s Royalist correspondent Tom Sykes. But “it seems no one thought to check with the people first”, and “turns out they aren’t so keen”.

In an online poll for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, 86.5% of more than 164,000 respondents said they would not participate.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Sky News that the pledge was “an invitation, a very generous invitation, to expand what has traditionally been quite an exclusive function”.

“If you want to do it, and I will, great. If you don’t want to do it, fine,” he added.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that he “hopes people do” swear the proposed oath. Labour elections campaign chief Shabana Mahmood also welcomed the “lovely idea to involve the people”.

But other politicians were “more sceptical”, said The Guardian’s Whitehall editor Rowena Mason.

‘Offensive and tone-deaf’

Labour MP Clive Lewis told The Guardian that the oath would be “unwelcome or ignored by many”. He added: “As Jesus is said to have said: ‘Give unto Caesar what is his.’ And this ain’t it.”

Anti-monarchist organisation Republic claimed the oath was “an offensive and tone-deaf gesture that holds the people in contempt”.

Both Buckingham Palace and Lambeth Palace were “clearly taken aback” by the “strength of feeling” about what was meant to be a “well-meant rallying cry” for the nation, said the Daily Mail. According to the paper, many felt that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call had “played into the hands of Republicans and critics of the ceremony generally”.

A senior source told The Sun that the spiritual leader had “gone off-piste on this one”. Palace officials issued a clarification yesterday about the oath, which was an “invitation” for people to vocally offer their “true allegiance” to the monarch rather than an “expectation or request”.

But senior aides fear the controversy is “casting a cloud over the celebrations” said the newspaper.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.