Published on 10 March 2023
4 minutes read
Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly, has delivered a Loyal Address to His Majesty King Charles III, as part of a tradition that stretches back to the 17th century.
The Church of Scotland is one of 27 bodies that were invited to send representatives to Buckingham Palace to take part in the ancient ceremony of pledging loyalty to the monarch.
In the 17th century hundreds of groups were involved in the ceremony, but today it is a much smaller group that includes Scotland’s oldest universities – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews—local government bodies such as the Greater London Authority, and other Churches including the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
The House of Commons and the House of Lords take part in a similar event, delivering what’s called a Humble Address to the reigning monarch on special occasions.
The last time the ceremony was held was in 2012, to celebrate Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Other important occasions where the Church took part in the ceremony were in 2002 for the Golden Jubilee, 1977 for the Silver Jubilee and on the Queen’s accession to the throne in 1952.
In contrast to the courtly language of the past, the 2023 Loyal Address, presented to King Charles to mark his accession to the throne, will be a shorter and simpler statement that talks about the Church’s role in serving communities and the challenges facing the country.
After assuring King Charles that he is held in prayer the address recalls “the legacy and shining example of the dedicated service given to us all by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth throughout all the days of her life.
“This life of service to others was an outstanding witness by Her Late Majesty to the One whom she served faithfully in Her daily life. We recall the prayer of Her Late Majesty for the wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises she went on to make on the occasion of Her Coronation and trust that this recollection will offer continuing inspiration and example to Your Majesty and us all.”
The address goes on to look at the challenges of climate change and the conflict in Ukraine.
“The care for our global environment is a challenge that impinges upon the life of each human being, whom we believe bears the image of God, and we share the deep concern of Your Majesty to achieve that balance and harmony which in turn will promote peace.
“That the continent of Europe should once more be riven by conflict is a matter of profound concern to us all… We join our prayers to the prayers of all those who long for peace and the renewal of hope in our time. Alongside this, we continue to offer our support to those who have been displaced by conflict and, in particular, those who have come to our shores in search of safety.”
Looking at the role of the Church in serving communities across the country the address says:
“Within the local parishes that the Church of Scotland is privileged to minister in, we see all too clearly the impact of material poverty and that which impoverishes the spirit. In walking beside those most impacted, we seek to live out our vocation to minister to all and in so doing to embody the hope of life renewed and community restored.”
The address concludes with a reminder that God is the source of all of our rights and privileges.
“In the Accession Oath taken by Your Majesty, we heard the renewed promise to maintain and preserve the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland. We are conscious that we have no rights save those which are granted to us, and to all, by the grace and mercy of God and no privilege beyond that of service. It is with humility that we renew our pledge of loyalty to Your Majesty and with it a determination to continue our service in the name of the One who came, not to be served, but to serve.”
Coronation Weekend celebrations
Coronation Weekend will offer several opportunities for people to come together in celebration of the historic occasion.
On Saturday 6 May the coronation will take place at Westminster Abbey. A solemn Christian service rooted in tradition and surrounded by pageantry, it will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Moderator will represent the Church of Scotland along with the Dean of the Chapel Royal, Very Rev Prof David Fergusson.
The festivities will continue on Sunday 7 May with the Coronation Big Lunch, at which neighbours and communities across the country are invited to share food and fun together. Also on 7 May a special Coronation Concert will be staged and broadcast live at Windsor Castle by the BBC and BBC Studios. Several thousand of pairs of tickets have been made available via public ballot.
Monday 8 May has been declared a bank holiday and members of the public will be invited to take part in The Big Help Out, which will encourage people to try volunteering for themselves and join in work being undertaken to support their local areas.