The May 6 coronation of King Charles will showcase much pageantry, marked by ancient customs and symbols. The biblical connections are fascinating.
Sept. 8, 2022, was a day mourned around the globe. As crowds gathered around Buckingham Palace, the Union Jack was lowered to half-staff and a double rainbow emerged across the London sky.
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, had just died at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in the Scottish highlands.
Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral
Leaders from nearly every major country attended her funeral. Among the world leaders and royalty to attend were Emperor Naruhito of Japan, French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden.
Absent were President Xi Jinping of China, who reportedly declined to attend, and Vladimir Putin, who was not invited.
Symbols of the monarchy
In Westminster Abbey, on top of Elizabeth’s coffin, sat some of the most important symbols of the British monarchy: the crown, the orb and the scepter.
In addition to the royal accoutrements, her son Charles left a personal note among the flowers on her coffin. It read: “In loving and devoted memory, Charles R.” “R” is an abbreviation for Rex, which in Latin means king.
Although Charles technically became king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland the moment his mother died, his coronation ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2023.
King Charles’ coronation
News outlets have reported that Charles’ coronation will differ in several ways from his mother’s coronation nearly 70 years ago. One of the more fascinating ways is that, while it will still be a “Christian” ceremony, there’s discussion that Charles will make portions of it inclusive of other faiths. Additional reported changes include a shorter, streamlined service and no presentation of gold to the monarch.
Still, while Charles may be axing several elements of the past, everyone expects the coronation to be filled with tradition. In fact, an official statement from Buckingham Palace read, “The Coronation will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.”
English coronation records have been preserved for more than a thousand years, and it is well established that multiple aspects of the coronation have remained largely unchanged for centuries.
Even more fascinating is how many of those traditions—such as the covenant, the anointing, the blowing of trumpets and the benediction “God save the King”—are found in the Bible (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Chronicles 23).
This does not mean that everything in the coronation ceremony is biblically based. There are multiple aspects that stand in direct contrast to Scripture. Following her coronation on June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth expressed it well when she said, “The ceremonies you have seen today are ancient, and some of their origins are veiled in the mists of the past. But their spirit and their meaning shine through the ages.”
Why monarchies in the modern world?
Many have wondered why some monarchies have lasted into our modern world, especially in Europe, where secularism has largely replaced ancient institutions and traditions. How is it that societal reforms driven by secular humanism have not yet extinguished the idea of a divinely ordained birthright?
As anti-monarchist Graham Smith expressed it, “The coronation is a celebration of hereditary power and privilege, it has no place in a modern society.”
Though there have been calls to abolish the monarchy for years, they have never gained enough support to be a serious threat to the institution. A September 2022 YouGov poll found 67 percent of Britons felt the monarchy should continue.
While multiple factors help explain the survival of the British royal family, the promises of God recorded in Scripture shed important light on this modern conundrum.
Kings from Abraham
In Genesis 17:6 God gave Abraham an amazing promise: “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.”
Today, some 30 monarchs around the world are linked to sovereign states. Eight of those monarchs come from the Arab-speaking world, which, not coincidentally, frequently identifies its people as descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael. The line of Abrahamic kings, however, does not stop there.
Many years after God promised Abraham royal descendants, He expanded this royal promise to Abraham’s great-grandson Judah and then to Judah’s descendant David (Genesis 17:16, 20; 49:8-10; 1 Chronicles 5:2).
God’s promise to David is captured in Psalm 89:3-4, 35-37:
“I have sworn to My servant David: your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations . . .
“I will not lie to David: his seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky.”
God’s promise to David was declared to shine through the ages—lasting not only during the time of ancient Israel, but throughout all generations!
Though we don’t have all the details of how David’s royal line was preserved after the fall of Judah in the sixth century B.C., the Bible does provide us clues. When put together with ancient history and other intriguing legends, those clues tell a fascinating story of how God miraculously preserved David’s line by transplanting it to the British Isles.
You can learn more about this story on pages 46-53 of our booklet The United States, Britain and the Commonwealth in Prophecy.
The framework of God’s promises
Though nations rise and fall, and monarchs live and die, the British coronation is a reminder of how God’s promises continue to shine through the ages.The Commonwealth of Nations spans the globe and is one on which the sun literally never sets. The kings and queens of the historic empire that preceded it occupied a throne for which there is no modern rival. Understanding how and why the United Kingdom and many of its former colonies maintain a monarchy requires relying on God’s promises, which can help us unveil the mists of the past.
With God’s promises providing a clear framework, many of the puzzle pieces fall perfectly into place—the coronation traditions, the heraldic imagery, the Commonwealth of Nations. All of these supply important clues supporting the connection between the British royal family and the royal line of the biblical King David.
The heraldic image of a lion
Take, for example, the heraldic image of a lion. The lion symbol is so commonly used among European royalty, it is often mistaken as the universal symbol for kings. But this is not necessarily the case.
In fact, the majority of monarchs in the world today do not use a lion in their royal emblems. Of the 17 monarchs outside Europe, only three incorporate the symbol of the lion. Two of those are in Africa—not surprisingly, as lions are indigenous to the continent. And the other is in Cambodia.
Even more curious is the fact that lions have never been native to northern Europe, where the symbol is most frequently found. So where did this symbol originate, and why is it used most frequently among northern European royalty?
Studying the genealogies of European royals who use the emblem of the lion reveals that they are all related—they are a family. (Five of the active monarchies in Europe—the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Spain and Sweden—are ruled over by direct descendants of Queen Victoria.)
Thus, the lion does not simply offer a ubiquitous emblem of royalty; it actually represents a royal family based primarily in and around northern Europe and today including kings and queens from England, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands.
The Scriptures connect the lion emblem to the tribe of Judah and King David (Genesis 49:9-10; Revelation 5:5).
Following such breadcrumbs, with God’s promises lighting the way, we can see that the royal family of David is alive today and still reigns over multiple European nations, including the United Kingdom.
Other interesting clues
It’s interesting to note that the word Britain (from the Latin Britannia) bears a curious phonetic resemblance to the Hebrew word for covenant, berith. This small phonetic clue provides further support for the connection between Britain and the covenant God made with Abraham and his offspring (Genesis 17:6-7; 49:8-10; Numbers 2:2; Revelation 5:5).
As another clue, Genesis 49 describes how the tribe of Judah would reign over the other tribes of Israel, and not just Judah’s descendants. Thus, while many European monarchs descended from Judah and David, this does not mean the people they reign over share their Judaic ancestry.
“Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise . . . Your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp . . . He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Messiah] comes” (verses 8-10).
The name Judah literally means praise (Genesis 29:35), and 1 Chronicles 5:2 also paints this picture: “Yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s.”
A reminder of God’s faithfulness
The coronation of King Charles is not merely the story of a royal family that lives on an island off the coast of Europe. Nor, for that matter, is it simply the story of a line of kings that goes back to the years after Britain was freed from Roman domination. Rather, it illustrates how God’s promises can be relied upon even more than the rising of the sun or the orbit of the moon.
Against the odds of Europe’s march into modernity, David’s divinely ordained royal family has endured the test of time. Though nations rise and fall, and monarchs live and die, the British coronation is a reminder of how God’s promises continue to shine through the ages.
For biblical, historical and prophetic background, see our booklet The United States, Britain and the Commonwealth in Prophecy.