• What is anointing?
• Why is the monarch anointed at their Coronation?
• Where does the practice originate?
• Where has King Charles’s anointing oil come from?
The act of anointing is often used by Christians as a symbol of God’s grace. In the Bible anointing is seen as a sign that someone has been set apart for a special calling or purpose. The title ‘Christ’ comes from the Greek 'chrīstós', meaning ‘anointed one’.
At the start of his public ministry, Jesus spoke about being anointed. He read a passage from the prophet Isaiah at the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4.18-19 NRSV)
Jesus was also anointed with oil by Mary of Bethany in preparation for his burial (Luke 7.36-50 NRSV).
During the Coronation, the Sovereign is anointed on their head, hands and heart, to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit to inspire and guide them as they lead.
The anointing is considered to be one of the holiest parts of the Coronation Service, and therefore is not seen by TV audiences or the congregation in the Abbey. A newly-commissioned screen surrounds the Chair on three sides for this part of the service. The Archbishop of Canterbury dips his fingers in the Coronation Spoon, the most ancient item of Coronation regalia, before anointing the monarch.
For the Coronation of King Charles III, the oil has been made using olives from groves on the Mount of Olives, consecrated in The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem by the city’s Anglican Archbishop Hosam Naoum, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III. Camilla, the Queen Consort, is also anointed with the oil.