London | British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty will be at the head of a procession of flag-bearers as the UK's flag is carried by a high-ranking Royal Air Force (RAF) cadet at the Coronation ceremony of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey in London on May 6, Buckingham Palace said on Friday.
In a series of details released around the ceremonial roles to be carried out at the historic event when the 74-year-old monarch is formally crowned along with wife Camilla, the palace also confirmed that Indian-origin peers will be participating in the ceremony.
They will represent the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim faiths as they hand over key elements of the royal regalia to King Charles. In keeping with this theme of diversity and inclusion for the Christian ceremony, one of the first processions into the Abbey will be made up of faith representatives of different religions.
“The first processions into Westminster Abbey will be made up of faith leaders and faith representatives followed shortly afterwards by representatives from His Majesty's Realms,” the palace said.
"Flags of each Realm will be carried by national representatives accompanied by the Governors General and Prime Ministers. Bearing the flag of the United Kingdom ahead of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Mrs Akshata Murty will be Cadet Warrant Officer Elliott Tyson-Lee,” it said.
The ceremonial roles on the day include bearing the regalia in the procession and presenting the items to the King and Queen on the day. As previously revealed, Lord Narendra Babubhai Patel, 84, will represent the Hindu faith and hand over the Sovereign's Ring to Charles.
While Lord Indrajit Singh, 90, will represent the Sikh faith and present the Coronation Glove, Lord Syed Kamall, 56, of Indo-Guyanese heritage, will represent the Muslim faith and present the Armills or a pair of bracelets. Baroness Gillian Merron, 64, who is Jewish, will carry the Robe Royal to the King.
The palace said that those undertaking these historic roles in the Coronation Service have been chosen to "recognise, thank and represent the nation due to their significant service, and include representatives from Orders of Chivalry, the military and wider public life".
Those presenting the regalia have been chosen on the advice of the British government and will be directed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Reverend Justin Welby, as he presides over the ceremony.
“I feel honoured and privileged to be part of the historic Coronation ceremony. To be selected to carry the Sovereign's Sceptre with Dove, which represents spirituality, equity and mercy, is for me very symbolic as it's everything I stand for and sends out a clear message that diversity and inclusion is being embraced," said Baroness Floella Benjamin, a Trinidad and Tobago born former children's TV presenter, who will be carrying the Sceptre with the Dove to the altar.
The ceremony will not only include dukes, bishops, peers and retired generals but also a farmer named Francis Dymoke, who will act as the King's Champion on the day in a ceremony steeped in royal tradition dating back to the 11th century.
“The title of King or Queen's Champion has been held by the Dymoke family since the Middle Ages. The King's Champion would previously ride on horseback into the Coronation Banquet and challenge any who doubted the right of The King or Queen to the throne,” the palace revealed.
“There has not been a Coronation Banquet since that held by King George IV in 1821 so the Champion has instead undertaken a different role since, usually bearing a flag or Royal Standard,” it noted.
The palace has been unveiling details around next week's grand ceremony, which marks a Coronation ceremony in Britain after a gap of 70 years since Charles' mother Queen Elizabeth II was crowned monarch in 1953.
Processions involving gilded horse-drawn carriages and thousands of military personnel will mark the day on May 6, followed by a long weekend of celebrations involving a gala concert, street parties and pomp and pageantry.