Coronation of King Charles III and his anointment with essential oils

The significance and symbolism of essential oils in the spiritual realm is evidenced by the fact that some of the most precious oils are used for anointment in coronation ceremonies. From ancient kings through to the present day, monarchs have been anointed with precious essential oils.  Anointment is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “a religious ceremony of putting holy water or oil on someone to make the person holy”.

His Majesty King Charles III is no exception, and he will be anointed during his coronation on 6th May 2023 with a special blend of olive oil and sesame oil and some of the most previous essential oils that exist - rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli (orange blossom), benzoin and amber. This is called “Chrism oil” which means a blend of oils that has been blessed in Jerusalem by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III. A ceremony to make the oil sacred took place in The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and was led by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, The Most Reverend Hosam Naoum.

The olive oil has been created using olives harvested from two groves on the Mount of Olives, at the Monastery of Mary Magdalene and the Monastery of the Ascension.

The oil is based on what was used at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the formula of which has been used for hundreds of years. The main difference is that the holy oil to be used to anoint King Charles III during his upcoming coronation is vegan friendly and will not use any ingredients from animals. Some of the ingredients used in the holy oil to anoint Charles’ mother, the late Queen, in 1953, came from a musk deer, a civet cat and a sperm whale.

The oil is stored in a bottle and traditionally held in great secrecy by the Dean of Westminster at Westminster Abbey. During the ceremony, it is kept in a solid gold flask called an ampulla – an artefact shaped like an eagle.

The oil will be used to anoint King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla — one of the most sacred parts of the ceremony.

The anointing of a new monarch is so sacred it takes place under a canopy, transforming the moment into a deeply personal experience between the sovereign and God. The King will also receive the orb, coronation ring and sceptre, and will be crowned with the majestic St Edward’s Crown and blessed during the historic ceremony. Camilla will also be anointed with holy oil and crowned.

The anointing process is a deeply spiritual experience, accompanied by prayers that the monarch would be guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. The coronation will take place at Westminster Abbey and will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The anointment involves the Archbishop of Canterbury pouring holy oil from the beak of the golden eagle-shaped ampulla on to a 12th-century, silver-gilt anointing spoon, the most ancient treasure of the Crown Jewels. He then uses the holy oil to anoint the hands, chest and head in the form of a cross. Considered to be the most sacred part of the religious ceremony, the act of anointing a sovereign has not previously been seen by the public.


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