Lifting the Veil on the Secrets of State

An issue surrounding the coronation was Charles III's avowed wish to introduce "transparency" into the most sacred part of the ceremony by "lifting the veil" at the moment when the monarch is anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He made it known that he wished to allow cameras to film the most sacred part of the ceremony -- the part that is supposed to represent the sovereign's anointing God's chosen one to rule. Along with all the other medieval pomp and ceremony, this is the part designed to imbue the monarch and the supreme authority vested in him, with a sense of awe. It is through "his relationship with God" that he becomes the protector of the "mysteries of state" which is to say all the secrets to which the public are not privy because they are all the dirty deeds carried out to preserve the bourgeois state.

After much toing and froing, it was announced on April 13: "The King has now changed his mind about an element of the anointing during his coronation." Royal Central announced that "King Charles III will follow the tradition of the thirty-nine monarchs crowned before him at Westminster Abbey and ensure that the most sacred part of the ceremony, the anointing, remains private."

Indeed, the King and the Palace went all out to emphasize Charles' Christian credentials and links by sourcing the anointing oil from Jerusalem itself. The official Royal website explained that "the Chrism oil" -- a fragrant oil made from olives with which Charles and Camilla were anointed, was consecrated in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in March. It was contained within the Ampulla, "made from gold and cast in the form of an eagle with outspread wings. The oil [was] poured through an aperture in the beak. The Ampulla was supplied for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661 by the Crown Jeweller, Robert Vyner, and is based on an earlier, smaller vessel, which in turn was based on a fourteenth-century legend in which the Virgin Mary appeared to St Thomas Becket and presented him with a golden eagle and a vial of oil for anointing future Kings of England." (Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered at the altar of Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170 by knights of Henry II when he refused to give the king power over the Church.)

Preparing the oil for anointing Charles III during the coronation.

In his Christmas 2022 Speech, Charles III, standing in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, talked about his Christian faith, of being "so close to where my beloved mother, the late Queen is laid to rest," of her faith in God and his. He talked of the need to "shine a light in the world around" and spoke of his visit to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity where "as the Bible tells us, the light that has come into the world was born."

Following the death of his mother, in an attempt to create a modern persona, Charles tried to have himself crowned as not just the Defender of the Faith but as the Defender of All Faiths and None. This attempt to insinuate himself into the domains of other religions and even atheists was a Church of England affair through and through, despite the prominent presence of representatives of other faiths acknowledged at the coronation.

Nonetheless, Charles' new found zeal to represent "all faiths and none" fell in line with the neo-liberal persona Charles is providing for himself as person of state, said to represent the people of all origins, religions, genders and ethnicities in the United Kingdom and all his "realms." The mask of "service" he is donning is to sell the fiction that the person of state represents the values that all people of his realms hold dear and his interpretation of these values is what makes him the unifier, the incarnation, of what people want.

It is a fiction designed to cover up where the supreme power is vested in a ruling class which takes decisions based on mysteries of state they alone have access to. The Royal We and We the People are to be understood as all those who were said to covenant to create a person of state to represent them. Thus, whatever the person of state says he stands for, ipso facto, the people. At the same time, he is anointed to represent the Covenant of Covenants, the Covenant between God and his people through which God makes the king the revealer of all his wisdom and guardian of his secrets which presumably enable him to wield the mighty sword of justice. It is important to understand that while it is a fiction, that does not mean that this rule, the supreme power the person of state represents, is simply symbolic and that he has no power.

King's Role in British Government

It is important to probe the nature of the "King's democracy" and the Parliamentary constitutional order it presides over for purposes of drawing warranted conclusions. Pertinent questions are, How does the "Royal We" become "we the people"? How does "Our Sovereign" become "Us"? As a rule, none of this is discussed.

This is what most sources tell us, which makes us none the wiser:

Officially "the King is the head of the British state, the highest representative of all the nations of Britain on the national and international stage." All are expected to swear allegiance to the King, or at least look up to the monarch as the person of state. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, who is formally appointed by the King, is "the head of the British government," and speaks in the King's name and that of His Majesty's government for the period that the Prime Minister remains in office.

The King meets with the Prime Minister once a week, receives daily boxes of state papers for his signature, and receives information on current matters. He presides over the Privy Council of government ministers which meets on average once a month. The King formally has a say in enacting Parliamentary legislation alongside the Prime Minister and the very few Ministers that draft the Parliamentary laws in Westminster.

Following the Queen's death, members of the Parliaments and the militaries in England, Scotland and Wales as well as in Canada and other countries considered the "King's realms" where he is also head of state, have sworn allegiance, or had their allegiance updated to the constitution which enshrines Charles III as King and as "commander" of the armed forces. This is said to ensure "the stability of the constitutional order."

Constitutional order, according to U.S. legal scholar Mark Tushnet in his 2003 book The New Constitutional Order, is "a reasonably stable set of institutions through which a nation's fundamental decisions are made over a sustained period, and the principles that guide those decisions. Both institutions and principles constitute a constitutional order. These institutions and principles provide the structure within which ordinary political contention occurs..." On the institutional level, a constitutional order includes the executive office, supreme court, legislatures, and national political parties. The constitutional principles cannot be understood except in the context of the institutional arrangements which exist, prevailing in the national government's other branches. They go beyond judicial doctrine and juridical interpretations and can only truly be comprehended by looking at the state of the society they preside over.

Music Video
Tom Robinson -- The Mighty Sword Of Justice

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 6 - June 2023

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