Major events like the Coronation create unity at home and boost our soft power abroad – and so does our monarchy, with its strong link with the City of London, writes Nicholas Lyons
As the eyes of the world turned to the UK on Saturday for the Coronation, I was honoured to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors, walking in the procession.
Lord Mayors of London have participated in the coronation of new monarchs since at least the fourteenth century. And, as we made our way through the nave of Westminster Abbey, I was aware that I wasn’t just representing the office of the Lord Mayor, but the whole Square Mile.
Our inclusion in this special event reflects the City’s enduring importance in the life of the nation. The City is not only an historic hub, but a modern-day hive of culture and commerce, accounting for one in five financial services jobs and generating some £85bn every year.
During the procession I carried the Crystal Sceptre – our oldest and most precious treasure, gifted to the City by King Henry V in 1420 as a “thank you” for funding his campaigns in France. Over the centuries, the sceptre has remained an embodiment of the lasting connection between City and Crown.
The Royal Family are long-time supporters of the City’s trade guilds. The City Corporation and participating livery companies gifted the embroidered screen which enshrouded the King as he was anointed with holy oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the most sacred element of the ceremony.
I paid tribute to the memory of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by wearing the distinctive Lord Mayor’s robe donned by my predecessor, Sir Rupert De la Bère, at her Coronation in 1953.
Though maintaining many traditions, the King requested a simpler, shorter, more diverse ceremony that reflects the modern UK. And that balance was struck.
Some question the need for such a spectacle, but major events like these foster unity and bolster our soft power overseas. After a challenging period, it was wonderful to see communities coming together to watch history happen and share a slice of “Coronation Quiche”. The Coronation, and the City’s involvement in it, will be talked about during my travels to key markets for a long time to come.
At this time of reflection and renewal for the monarchy, we can debate its merits in an open – sometimes impassioned – way precisely because we live in a democracy. For me, constitutional monarchy underpins the political stability, independence of the judiciary and respect for the rule of law which makes the UK such an attractive place to do business.
The monarchy connects us to our past and helps create a distinct national identity that is invaluable for our sense of belonging. Its importance for tourism was evidenced by the scores of visitors we welcomed this weekend. By hosting incoming delegations and making international trips, the monarch also creates connections essential for diplomacy and trade.
As the Princess Royal said in a rare interview, the monarchy gives a degree of long-term stability “that is hard to come by any other way”.
King Charles III now occupies a position he’s been working towards his entire life as our country’s oldest new monarch.
His service in that role will undoubtedly be the subject of many dinner table debates, but meanwhile I know the City and the Crown will remain as close as ever.