Elizabeth II, who died yesterday, will she have been the last British sovereign to be crowned? And, come to think of it, the last real ruler of the West? Because, on June 2, 1953, more than a year after having acceded to the throne on the death of her father, King George VI, Elizabeth was not only crowned but consecrated during a mystical and, to be honest, medieval ceremony, under the intimacy of a canopy. Of all the monarchs of Europe (they are still eleven today, counting the sovereign pontiff and excluding the co-princes of Andorra!), Elisabeth is the only one to have received the anointing of the coronation, like our former kings of France. The other kings, queens, princes and grand dukes are invested, at best crowned! A swearing and it’s enough! The Queen of England was not the Queen of Denmark or the King of the Belgians, her cousins, because the British monarchy is a standout.
The coronation: an incongruity, no doubt, for our world today, pulling everything down and, as long as possible, towards the ugly. 1953: the world had acquired the prodigious ability to self-destruct thanks to the atomic bomb, but a paradoxical kingdom where judges still rendered justice under a wig and where women had been given the right to vote before the very republican France crowned a frail young woman, great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, making her the representative of God on Earth, at least on the lands where his sovereignty was exercised. Let’s admit that this had far more appeal than the banal investiture, for example, of Philippe VI, Bourbon King of Spain, despite being a descendant by patrilineal descent from Saint Louis – which is still not nothing -, through a banal and sad procession of civil, military and religious authorities queuing to shake hands with him. No more, no better than the New Year’s greetings ceremony at the prefecture hotel under the portrait of Emmanuel Macron.
Will Charles, now Charles III, follow this millennial tradition of coronation to pass it on to his successors, Princes William and George? Charles who prides himself on spirituality – of all spiritualities – but who was twenty years old under the reign of the Beatles and forty under that of George Michael. Charles who, today, is propelled supreme governor of the Church of England, an Anglican Church which no longer has anything to do with that surrounding Elizabeth on the day of her coronation in a pomp which, then, had nothing to envy that of pre-conciliar Rome. To renounce the coronation, beyond the abandonment of a folkloric, incongruous ceremony, so British and so much television, would tip over into the irreversible. The irreversible? Like the death sentence of King Louis XVI. True, England cut off the head of Charles Ier, but this historical accident has nothing to do with the execution of Louis XVI, deliberately intended as sacrilege in order to break with a thousand-year-old tradition. The irreversible? As was also the case when Pope Paul VI renounced, in a personal capacity, to wear the tiara, symbol of his sacred, jurisdictional and magisterial powers. Which pope, indeed, henceforth, would dare, after this abandonment, to put on this crown, one fine Easter morning, to give his blessing? Urbi and orbi ? On this subject, moreover, we may not have seen everything yet…
It is a triviality to say that the death of Queen Elizabeth, after what will have been the longest reign that England has known, marks a turning point in the history of a monarchy descended by blood from the Norman William the Conqueror and heiress, if we go back further, to the ancient kings of Wessex and Mercia. But the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is today faced with an essential question: will it renounce what makes its originality, much more essential than the carriage ride through the streets of London of a monarch, surrounded by horsemen harnessed to win the Boer War, driving on the left or the tea timein a desacralized world and to be honest quite ugly?