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Screen to shield sacred moment of King Charles' coronation unveiled

Screen to shield sacred moment of King Charles' coronation unveiled
The anointing screen which will be used in the coronation of King Charles III, is blessed in front of a small congregation in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace in London, Britain, on April 24, 2023. The most important moment in the coronation is the "unction", the sacred act of anointing a monarch with holy oil, which can be traced as far back as the 7th and 8th centuries, and signals that the monarch has been chosen by God. It is only seen by the sovereign and the Archbishop of Canterbury and will take place behind the anointing screen. The screen — which represents the 56 member countries of the Commonwealth — was designed by iconographer Aidan Hart and created using both hand and digital embroidery, managed by the Royal School of Needlework. It has been gifted for the occasion by the City of London Corporation and City Livery Companies.
PHOTO: Reuters via Pool

LONDON — A new screen will provide "absolute privacy" during the most sacred part of next week's coronation service for King Charles, ensuring the eyes of the world will not see the monarch being anointed, Buckingham Palace and its makers said.

The three-sided screen will shield Charles when he is anointed with holy oil, consecrated in Jerusalem, on his hands, breast and head, shortly before he is crowned at London's Westminster Abbey on May 6.

Buckingham Palace said it was historically regarded "as a moment between the sovereign and God" with the screen there to protect its sanctity.

"Previously, it was a canopy over the top, which actually didn't provide real privacy, it was more figurative," said Nick Gutfreund, who designed and created the frame. "Now this three-sided screen provides absolute privacy."

There had been speculation Charles might allow people to see the anointing, but royal historian Professor Kate Willliams said that would have been a surprise.

"It is such a private, sacred moment," she told Reuters "It's a mystic moment."


The Palace said the screen was made using a combination of traditional craft skills and modern methods, and measured 2.6m high and 2.2m wide, featuring wooden poles topped by bronze eagles gilded in gold leaf.

Its central design, selected by Charles, is a tree with the names of all 56 countries of the Commonwealth, the international organisation which he also heads.

It was inspired by a stained glass window at the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace which was gifted to the late Queen Elizabeth to mark her Golden Jubilee in 2002, and it uses sustainable materials for the embroidery in keeping with the king's long-standing environmental campaigning.

Meanwhile, the poles were made from a windblown tree, which had originally been planted by the Duke of Northumberland in 1765 on the king's Windsor estate, west of London.

"It's utilising stuff that might have been used as firewood but actually we're using it for something very special," Gutfreund said. "We didn't want to spend money on things that aren't actually going to be reusable."

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