Archbishop Of Canterbury: All To Know About Church Leader Overseeing King Charles Coronation

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will play a very important role in Charles' big day. Find out more about the British religious leader here.

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  • The Archbishop of Canterbury has crowned most Monarchs in England for over 1,000 years.
  • Justin Welby serves at the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • He will privately anoint King Charles during a ceremony.

As viewers across the world tune in to see King Charles III‘s Coronation ceremony on Saturday, May 6, one religious leader will play a very important role: the Archbishop of Canterbury. The position within the Anglican Church, which is currently held by Justin Welby, is a very important part of the Coronation. While many people are very familiar with the Royal Family, the Archbishop actually performs the ceremony for the new monarch.

The religious leader will certainly be seen a lot during the televised ceremony, perhaps as much as the members of the Royal Family. Find out more about the Archbishop of Canterbury and the part he plays in the Coronation here!

Justin Welby has served as the Archbishop of Canterbury for a decade. (Licensed by Story Picture Agency/Shutterstock)

Justin Welby Has Been The Archbishop Of Canterbury Since 2013

While there have been over 100 people to hold the title of Archbishop of Canterbury through the centuries, the position is currently held by Justin Welby, who is the 105th Archbishop. He was first ordained as a priest in 1993. He held various positions in different churches and cathedrals for nearly 20 years, before he was appointed as the Bishop of Durham in 2011. His appointment as the Archbishop of Canterbury was announced in 2012. He revealed that at first he thought it was a “joke,” in an interview with The Times. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury Is The Highest Position In The Church Of England

The title of the Archbishop of Canterbury dates back to the year 597, and it’s considered the oldest See in England. While the Archbishop oversees the region of Canterbury, he also sits on many church boards that govern the Anglican church. As the leader of the Church of England, he takes part in many national ceremonies throughout the country, including coronations.

The Archbishop taking part in coronations dates back to when the See was first established by St. Augustine. “The first detailed coronation service is thought to have been drawn up by St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, for the grand coronation of Edgar, first King of All England, at Bath Abbey in 973,” The Church of England website states. “There have been occasions when someone other than the Archbishop of Canterbury has crowned the sovereign, normally when the Archbishop has been indisposed or the See was vacant, but this has not happened in recent times.”

King Charles shakes hands with the Archbishop. (Yui Mok/WPA Pool/Shutterstock)

He Will Anoint King Charles During The Ceremony

As one of the leaders of the Anglican church, Justin will officiate the ceremony during King Charles’ Coronation, according to TatlerWhile the ceremony also includes the crowning of the monarch, it will also feature Charles being anointed with Holy Oil, which will be performed in private. Despite Charles’ Coronation being the second to ever be televised, the anointing will not be shown on TV. When Queen Elizabeth was anointed during her coronation in 1953, that portion of her ceremony was also not televised.

What Has The Archbishop Said About Charles Ahead Of The Coronation?

Justin has shared some insight to working with Charles on his Coronation, ahead of the big day. The Archbishop revealed that it’s been great to plan the ceremony with him in an interview with Sky News. “The King is someone who is very easy to work with,” he said. “He thinks very deeply about these things. His Christian faith comes through the whole time, and it’s been really fun.”

He’s also revealed that as part of an homage to the early start of the See, the Gospels of St. Augustine would be used in the ceremony on Twitter. “The St Augustine Gospels will be used at the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III tomorrow. A beautiful treasure of our nation’s Christian history, it was sent to the first Archbishop of Canterbury from Rome in the 6th Century AD,” he wrote. “I pray the St Augustine Gospels would be both a reminder of God’s faithfulness throughout history, and a promise of His guidance throughout The King’s reign.”

He’s Shared Prayers For The Coronation On Twitter

In the lead-up to the Coronation, the Archbishop has shared many updates and details about the ceremony on Twitter. One of the ways that he’s celebrated Charles and Queen Camilla is by regularly posting prayers that those following can say to keep the Royal Family in their thoughts. “We pray for His Majesty the King, the Queen Consort and the Royal Family as they prepare for tomorrow’s Coronation,” he wrote on Friday, May 5.

The Coronation Service of Their Majesties The King Charles III and The Queen Consort was attended by a congregation of more than 2,200 guests, including Members of the Royal Family, international representatives from over 200 countries, and approximately 100 Heads of State. The hand painted invitation, which was shared via the Royal’s Instagram, was sent to all guests. Notably absent among the guests were US President Joe Biden, though his wife, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, attended, and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, who stayed in America with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

In the official announcement for the King’s coronation made back in October 2022, Buckingham Palace promised that the coronation would “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.” The Archbishop of Canterbury performed the official crowning of Charles with St Edward’s Crown and the crowning of Camila with Queen Mary’s Crown at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, May 6.