On 8 September 2023, The African Exponent reported the death of Queen Elizabeth II a few minutes after Buckingham Palace confirmed the passing of the revered monarch. The death marked an important event in history as the longest-serving British monarch passed the baton unto King Charles, who acceded to the throne upon the death of his mother.
The events of the Queen’s burial, King Charles’s coronation and the activities that followed his assertion to the throne revealed a lot about the Royal Family and the traditions of the United Kingdom.
Although there were many positives, and the events of 2022/2023 would forever remain in the global history books, it revealed many lessons the United Kingdom could learn from Africa.
In crowning kings, especially monarchs, Africa has a lot to teach the United Kingdom; because in Africa, men do not crown kings!
During the live telecast of the events organized for the burial of Queen Elizabeth and the coronation of King Charles, many Africans were quick to spot certain ‘irregularities’ which they believed were inappropriate for a monarch.
What were the concerns of many Africans and African scholars alike regarding the burial of Queen Elizabeth II and the coronation ceremony cum activities of King Charles III? Let’s find out!
The Public Show at the Burial of Queen Elizabeth II
Although, understandably, Queen Elizabeth II is worthy of her final respects, in Africa, a monarch’s funeral does not involve the level of public display shown in the burial ceremony of the Queen.
Also, many critics believe that the African tradition that keeps the final resting place of a monarch secret is one that the United Kingdom should consider.
It is public information that the Queen was buried at the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle with her husband, Prince Philip; her father, King George VI; mother, Queen Elizabeth; and sister Princess Margaret. This, some critics say, is a piece of ‘unnecessary’ information that distinguishes African tradition.
In 2021, King Goodwill Zwelithini, monarch of South Africa’s large amaZulu ethnic group, died, ending his five-decade reign. In an 18 March 2021 publication by TIMES News, one crucial aspect of the burial ceremony that was highlighted in the report was that “the privacy that surrounded parts of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s burial was normal protocol in how a king ought to be laid to rest as the leader of the Zulu nation.”
A King Does Not Step Down from His Throne to Be ‘Crowned’
Upon the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the national anthem of the United Kingdom was immediately changed from “God Save the Queen” to “God Save the King.” Also, the royal press release announcing the Queen’s death read in part that; “the King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
So, many critics did not understand the need for a ceremony that involved crowning the King when he had already been recognized as King.
The coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as King and queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms took place on 6 May 2023 at Westminster Abbey. However, King Charles acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022 upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II.
What this implies is that on 8 September 2022, the King stepped down from his throne and the position he had occupied for about four months to be crowned again. Many critics question the capacity in which King Charles acted before his coronation.
In Africa, a King Bows to No Man
Some critics who watched King Charles II’s coronation believe that there are many lessons the United Kingdom should learn from Africa about monarchy and coronation.
The live coronation ceremony televised globally showed footage of King Charles III being anointed on the head before the Crown was placed on his head. In Africa, kings do not bow to anyone.
Surprisingly, King Charles was hidden from public view for the most dramatic part of the service at London’s Westminster Abbey on Saturday. Yet, the activities being performed were televised.
Behind a three-sided screen, the Dean of Westminster poured holy oil from the Ampulla, a gold eagle-shaped flask, onto the Coronation Spoon, and then the Archbishop of Canterbury anointed Charles on his head, breast and hands, according to the Church of England’s liturgy.
Once he re-emerged, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby placed St. Edward’s Crown upon Charles III’s head.
In Africa, this is not the case when it relates to first-class monarchs. The ancient Bini kingdom is one kingdom that the United Kingdom needs to learn from.
According to Bini tradition, an Oba is never crowned in public. Also, during the private ceremony, the chief priest hands over the Crown to the Oba, who places it on his own head. This is done so that no mortal can boast that they ‘crowned’ the Oba.
A One-Time Crown?
In every tradition, there is always a special crown used for coronation. It is usually the original Crown that has been passed from one generation to the other or one that has ties to the original Crown.
However, the King wears this Crown for special ceremonies and festivals where he is expected to dress in his full regalia as King. Again, this is not the case in the United Kingdom, as the coronation will be the only time King Charles will ever wear St. Edward’s Crown, which is reserved for the coronation of a new monarch.
The King of Eswatini, who doubles as the leader of the small African nation, dresses officially as the royals in the United Kingdom. But during important ceremonies and festivals, King Mswati III is always seen in his traditional regalia and Crown, which symbolized his office and position.
A King’s Wife is a Queen
After the coronation of King Charles, Queen Camilla was also crowned. But this time, the coronation was performed publicly. Like her husband, she was anointed with holy oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury – this time in full view of the audience – before having Queen Mary’s Crown placed on her head.
In Africa, a Queen is not treated less than a King. In fact, they are only answerable to their King and lord.
The reverence given to powerful Queens in African history like Hatshepsut, Idia, Nefertiti, Amina, Yaa Asantewaa, Makeda, Amanirenas, Nandi, to mention a few, is a credit to the submission that the West have little or nothing to teach Africans about equal rights.
Some critics believe that in an African coronation, the Queen is treated with more respect than what they perceived and witnessed at the coronation of King Charles.
To many across the globe, the coronation ceremony (even though no one remembers the one before it) is the most colourful ever witnessed in this generation. The world is hopeful for the best following the coronation of King Charles, and many Africans are looking forward to the repatriation of many African artefacts, like the Great Star of Africa, in the possession of the British royal family.
The content of this article does not in any way reflect the views of the editor and the collective opinion of TAE.
However, what are your thoughts on the coronation, and in what areas do you think the United Kingdom can take a lesson or two from Africa?