Swearing allegiance to the king will be an “individual choice,” a government minister stressed on Tuesday.
Ahead of Saturday’s coronation, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly stressed that no one would be forced to take such an oath.
When asked about the decision to open the oath to the general public, rather than just colleagues, Cleverly told Sky News: ‘It’s an individual choice.
“There is a very generous invitation to expand what has traditionally been a rather exclusive function which is only for members of the House of Lords to swear allegiance to the new monarch.
“Actually, the king has decided to open it, to give everyone the opportunity to do it, no one is forced to do it, no one has to do it, no one will check.
“If you want to do it, and I will, great if you don’t want to do it right.”
Charles’ coronation will include the first-ever Homage of the People, a modern addition to the ancient ceremony which will see people across the UK and overseas realms invited to swear an oath of allegiance to the new king.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will invite “all people of good will in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and other kingdoms and territories to pay homage, with heart and voice, to their undisputed King, defender of everything”.
The order of the service will read: “All who wish, in the abbey and elsewhere, say together:
“Everyone: I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to the law. So help me God.”
A fanfare will follow.
The Archbishop will then proclaim “God Save The King”, with all invited to respond: “God Save King Charles. Long live King Charles. May the King live forever.”
Lambeth Palace said it hoped the significant change to the historic service would result in a “great cry across the nation and across the world of support for the King” from those watching on television, online or gathered on the air open on big screens.
It replaces the traditional Homage of Peers in which a long line of hereditary peers would kneel and make a promise to the monarch himself.
But sources say a public backlash against the move – with a Sun poll yesterday showing 53% won’t join – hasn’t gone well behind palace walls.
It is understood that it was meant to be an attempt to broaden access and involvement in the ceremony, and it was not an order.
Lambeth Palace was forced to issue a clarification on Monday.
A Lambeth Palace spokesman stressed that the tribute was “more of an invitation than an expectation or request”.
People could join if they felt it was right for them, as they would be taking part in the national anthem.
And he added: “It is simply an opportunity offered by the Archbishop so that, unlike previous coronations, those who wish to join the words spoken by the Abbey Congregation can do so in a very simple way.
“For those who want to participate, some will want to say all the words of the tribute; some may just mean “God Save The King” at the end; others may just want it to be a time for private reflection.
He added: “For those who wish to participate in the tribute, we hope it will be a time of joy and celebration – both in the abbey and in homes across the country and beyond.”
The liturgy – the words and deeds of the coronation service – was revealed after being chosen in consultation with the King, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the government.
Plans to ask the public to swear allegiance to the king during the coronation have been labeled “insulting, deaf and a gesture that despises the people” by pressure group Republic.