'It's not a command': Archbishop defends request for public to cry out in support of King

In an interview with ITV News' Julie Etchingham, the Archbishop of Canterbury defended the public pledge of allegiance to the King

The Archbishop of Canterbury has defended plans for a public pledge of allegiance during the King's coronation, adding that if people don't want to participate, "that's entirely up to them".

The new Homage of the People was introduced to allow "a chorus of millions of voices" to be "enabled for the first time in history to participate in this solemn and joyful moment", Lambeth Palace, the archbishop's office, said.

In an interview with ITV News' Julie Etchingham, Mr Welby was asked if it had been his idea for the public to pledge allegiance to the King.

"The whole service was put together by a lot of people. I can't honestly remember where that came from," he said.

The millions watching the coronation will be asked to cry out and swear allegiance to the new King.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Credit: ITV News

Mr Welby, who will play a key role in the event on Saturday, responded to criticism of the pledge, which some have described as "Orwellian" and "tone-deaf".

"This isn't a command," he said.

"It's to say anyone who would like to join in and feel a part of this, is welcome to do so. And if people don't want to do so, that's entirely up to them."

The change replaces the traditional Homage of Peers in which a long line of hereditary peers knelt and made a pledge to the monarch in person.

When pressed further on whether the pledge, which is supposed to be a show of unity, has sparked division, Mr Welby said: "If it wasn't this, it would have been something else."

"It is simply an open invitation to people. It's hospitality. Join in if you want. There's no pressure on people," he added.

During the service, the Archbishop will call upon "all persons of goodwill in The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of the other Realms and the Territories to make their homage, in heart and voice, to their undoubted King, defender of all".

The order of service will read: "All who so desire, in the Abbey, and elsewhere, say together:

"All: I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God."

The playing of fanfare will shortly follow, before the Archbishop proclaims "God Save The King", with all asked to respond: "God Save King Charles. Long Live King Charles. May The King live for ever."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will call upon the public to take part in the Homage of the People. Credit: PA

The service is expected to be an extravagant spectacle, where the King will be adorned in heavy priest-like golden robes for the moment of crowning.

Asked whether he feels guilty for being a part of the lavish event when many in the country are facing hardship, Archbishop Welby said: "Not in the slightest".

"The gold robes are borrowed. There's no money spent on them. The Gold Coach, the money was spent in the 18th century, I think.

"And of course, it's a time of hardship. But the answer to that is not about everyone going around being totally miserable the whole time.

"It's finding ways of enabling people to support and help each other and draw together with their neighbours.

"The coronation in 1953, during a time of austerity post-war, was also a huge and wonderful ceremony. It's a party, join in," he added.

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