Justin Welby recalls ‘deeply moving’ coronation as King makes investiture return

The Archbishop of Canterbury has described last year’s coronation as “deeply moving” after being honoured by the King, who made his return to a major investiture.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby recalled the experience of anointing Charles at Westminster Abbey as he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) for his key role in the event.

The monarch, who was given permission by his doctors to return to public duties last month, greeted 52 recipients one by one at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.

Mr Welby told the PA news agency that Charles seemed in “very good spirits indeed” and was “looking very well” as they spoke during the ceremony.

Awards of the Royal Victorian Order are in the King’s gift and are bestowed independently of Downing Street to people who have served the monarch or the royal family in a personal way.

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Asked about his personal memories of the coronation, Mr Welby said: “I was very keyed up, a lot of adrenaline, but not nervous because we’d rehearsed so much [and] very focused.

“The anointing and the crowning were obviously supreme high points, particularly the anointing – [a] great sense of the presence of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit of God.

“It was a really deeply moving moment.”

Mr Welby said being part of such a hugely historical moment was “surreal”, adding: “You sort of keep thinking you’re going to wake up.”

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Dr David Hoyle was also honoured by Charles at Windsor Castle (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Asked about the legacy of the coronation, Mr Welby said: “What I hope is remembered is the solemnity and the authenticity with which the King said to the small boy at the beginning: ‘I come not to be served, but to serve in the battle of Jesus Christ.’

“That summed up everything we were trying to say in the current nation.”

Dean of Westminster Abbey Dr David Hoyle was among the other people honoured at the ceremony, as he was made a Knight Commander for his own role in the coronation.

Dr Hoyle revealed there were plans for a building in the King’s honour to be built on the side of Westminster Abbey.

He told PA: “We have already done the archaeology, so the site is prepared. We have plans which the King has seen.

“We hope we might have it built in the next two to three years.”

On his memories from the coronation, Dr Hoyle said: “It was the biggest privilege of my life, without a doubt.

“There are some moments that really stand out – watching the abbey fill with that extraordinary gathering of people, and that sense of anticipation, that sense of occasion.

“There are lots of wonderful memories, not least of the music, which was spectacular.

“In all honesty, there was a little thread of terror running through the day, because a coronation is unlike any other service – and the things I had to do were a bit challenging. But it was marvellous.”

The investiture is the latest in a number of public-facing duties the King has undertaken in recent days.

He officially handed over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to the Prince of Wales in a joint engagement on Monday, while he also hosted the first garden party of the year at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

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