King's Champion, orb-bearer: Palace unveils coronation roles
LONDON (AP) — Francis Dymoke won’t ride into King Charles III’s coronation on horseback and challenge any pretender to the throne to single combat as his ancestor did in 1066, but he will carry the Royal Standard into Westminster Abbey.
Dymoke, a 67-year-old farmer from eastern England, will be the King’s Champion at the coronation, fulfilling a role performed by members of his family since William the Conqueror was crowned nearly 1,000 years ago. His was one of more than two dozen ceremonial roles announced Thursday by Buckingham Palace as organizers seek to ground the coronation in tradition while also ensuring that it reflects modern Britain.
While the first Champion earned his role through long service to the king, Dymoke filled out an online form, explaining his family’s historic role in the coronation, then waited for government bureaucrats to review his claim. Thursday’s announcement means he will be the 34th member of his family to take part in a coronation.
“This is the one moment in my life that really matters,” he told the Daily Telegraph newspaper earlier this year.
Other roles announced Thursday include those who will carry the king’s regalia — including the crown, scepters, orb, swords and spurs — to the altar on May 6.
Some of the jobs went to those with historic claims, like Dymoke, but others will be carried out by senior military officers, bishops and politicians.
For instance, Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons, will carry the Sword of State due to her role as Lord President of the Privy Council, which advises the monarch.
Others were awarded to relatively unknown individuals.
Petty Officer Amy Taylor will be the first woman to carry the Sword of Offering into the Abbey after she was chosen to represent service men and women across the country.
“Those undertaking these historic roles in the service have been chosen to recognize, thank and represent the nation due to their significant service, and include representatives from Orders of Chivalry, the military and wider public life,” the palace said.
The King’s Champion originally rode into the coronation banquet on horseback, threw down a gauntlet and challenged anyone who doubted the king or queen’s right to rule.
But there hasn’t been a coronation banquet since 1821, so Champions now perform other roles, usually bearing a flag or standard, the palace said.
The Dymoke family’s traditional claim to the role was linked to the land in Lincolnshire they were awarded at the time of the Norman conquest of England, Dymoke told The Telegraph. But in the modern world, his invitation to the coronation wasn’t guaranteed.
“All I can do is request to take part,” he told the newspaper.
“I wrote along the lines that … my family has done it since William the Conqueror, and though I appreciate it’s not a right any more … it would be a good thing to be involved.”
The palace agreed.
Danica Kirka, The Associated Press