British citizens will be called on to swear allegiance to King Charles III during his upcoming coronation in a move that has created tensions among some in the nation.
The call to allegiance was revealed last month in an announcement from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is scheduled to lead the coronation ceremony on May 6 at Westminster Abbey.
During the Homage of Peers, Welby is set to say: “I call upon all persons of goodwill in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of the other realms and the territories to make their homage, in heart and voice, to their undoubted King, defender of all.”
The response from the people is written as: “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.”
Welby released a statement to the BBC on Monday to address concerns among those who find the allegiance to Charles offensive.
“In every Anglican service, every Christian service, it is normal for congregations to participate,” he said. “It’s an invitation – so if you want to join in at this point, by all means do so. If you don’t want to, that’s fine. There’s no drama to it.”
While British parliamentarians and Canadians already swear allegiance to the monarch when they take office, plans to ask the public to pledge their allegiance to the king during the coronation have been criticized by anti-monarchy groups.
Republic, a group that campaigns for the abolition of the British monarchy, described the move as “offensive, tone deaf, and a gesture that holds the people in contempt.” The movement has held demonstrations opposing the call to allegiance in the first such ceremony in seven decades.
“In a democracy it is the head of state who should be swearing allegiance to the people, not the other way around,” Graham Smith, a spokesperson for Republic, said in the report.
The new oath is one of the changes to the centuries-old ceremony, which the palace wants to update to reflect the country’s diversity. The last coronation took place 70 years ago when Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was crowned.
Women bishops will take part for the first time, as well as representatives of non-Christian faiths. Texts will also be read out in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic, the languages of the other nations of the United Kingdom.