The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church has been asked to fulfil a key ceremonial duty at the Coronation Service of The King and Queen Consort next week.
The Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, and Primus, will present the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross to the Archbishop of Canterbury at what is an important and symbolic moment at the heart of the Coronation service at Westminster Abbey. The Archbishop will then place the Sceptre in the right hand of The King, just moments before the new monarch is crowned.
Bishop Mark has been invited to fulfil this historic role as Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion’s representative in Scotland. The honour also comes as recognition of service given by the Primus to the Scottish Episcopal Church and to the wider Anglican Communion, as well as his significant contributions to public life.
“I am delighted and honoured to be invited to participate at such a powerful moment in the Coronation of King Charles III,” said the Primus, who will also be part of the Ecumenical Leaders’ Procession into the Abbey.
“Last year I was among those who gathered at Westminster Abbey to give thanks and bid farewell on the sombre occasion of the state funeral of Her Majesty The Queen. It is a privilege to return to the Abbey on what will be joyful day and once again represent the Scottish Episcopal Church.
“I am especially grateful that the invitation acknowledges my service not just in Scotland but in the wider Anglican Communion and within civic society. To be recognised for these commitments, which are so important to the role of Primus, is deeply appreciated.”
The two Sovereign’s Sceptres are part of the Coronation Regalia, sacred and secular objects which symbolise the service and responsibilities of the monarch. The Regalia, which are at the heart of the Crown Jewels, have played a central role in coronation services for hundreds of years.
The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, representing the sovereign’s temporal power, comprises a gold rod, surmounted by an enamelled heart-shaped structure which holds the Cullinan I diamond. The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove, which represents the Sovereign’s spiritual role, will be presented by the Archbishop of Wales.
On the day of the Coronation, 6 May 2023, formal celebrations will begin with a procession which sets off from Buckingham Palace at 10.20am. It is expected to arrive at Westminster Abbey at 10.53am, with the Coronation Service due to begin at 11am.
Another member of the College of Bishops, The Rt Rev Dr John Armes, has also been invited to attend the Coronation as one of 13 people chosen to play “important historic ceremonial roles . . . [having shown] evidence that their claim related to a historic customary service performed at previous Coronations”.
The Bishop of Edinburgh will attend in his capacity as the ex officio chair of the Walker Trustees, a role which incorporated the position of the Heritable Usher of the White Rod, a historic office of the Parliament of Scotland.
The last personal holder of the office was Sir Patrick Walker, on whose death in 1837 the office was held for some years by his two sisters, Barbara and Mary. The Walker sisters funded the building of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh, the see of the Bishop of Edinburgh.
In 1877 the office was incorporated by special Act of Parliament under the title of the Walker Trustees. White Rod today has no official duties but one of the remaining honours of the office is to take part in the Coronation procession.
“I am glad that this part of Scottish tradition is being maintained,” said Bishop John, “and I am honoured and excited to be the person upon whom the duty falls of continuing this historic convention on the occasion of the first Coronation in seventy years.”