After Queen Elizabeth II’s monumental reign ended, questions emerged of whether the crown should have a role in British politics—or even exist at all in the modern world.
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Two photographs taken this year could have represented two different generations of British history.
The pictures were of traditional and ceremonial rites of the monarch meeting the British prime minister-in-waiting to ask them to form a new government.
In the first picture, Queen Elizabeth II met incoming prime minister Liz Truss on September 6. It was the last time the monarch was seen in an image by the public after her 70 years on the throne. Her reign had straddled two centuries, post-colonialism, Brexit and a pandemic.
And the other photo: former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, now prime minister, was pictured shaking hands with King Charles III.
The time between those two photographs? Seven weeks.
During this brief period, the nation went from mourning into an acute, turbulent economic crisis. Many in Britain had never experienced such tectonic shifts, one after the other.
For Ms. Truss, it was a new start, handing her the keys to 10 Downing Street—capping weeks of bruising battle for Conservative Party leadership with Mr. Sunak. Her predecessor, Boris Johnson, had been forced to resign amid a haze of ethics scandals.
The queen, using a walking cane after prolonged mobility issues, is seen smiling. Ms. Truss, too, from the side angle, can be seen smiling as they shake hands. The queen died two days later.
Britain is on its third leader this year, and the two most recent ones took the post without a direct mandate from the British people—they were elected leader of the Conservative Party and became prime minister automatically. There is a clamor among the opposition and beyond for a general election. By law, that does not have to be until 2024, and Mr. Sunak has said he will not call one—after the recent turmoil, the conservative Tories face possible obliteration at the polls as it stands now.
Charles III is secure in his position and almost certain to outlast the government. His mother met 15 prime ministers in her 70 years on the throne; Charles is on his second after less than two months. But he is nevertheless the oldest person to ascend to the British throne.
In the middle of such chaos, who knows what the next photograph might show?
It is unlikely seven weeks would reveal another drastic change in leadership. Since the queen’s death, however, speculation has arisen as to whether the new regent can fill the shoes of his wildly popular predecessor.
As Time put it: “The challenge now facing the country is how to move on without her.”
“While the path forward for Britain is clear (it has, after all, done this many times before), the future of the British monarchy feels less certain. King Charles III inherits the throne at a time when the monarchy as an institution is still broadly supported in Britain, with a slight majority of 62% in favor, according to a June poll. But the outpouring of support and admiration for the Queen should not be mistaken for unwavering support for the Royal Family as a whole, especially after recent fallout over the treatment of Prince Harry and Meghan as well as the sexual-assault allegations facing her son, Prince Andrew. The biggest test facing the new King is whether he can emulate his mother’s image of stability and preserve the institution that she spent so much of her life trying to protect.”
By many accounts, Charles faces a daunting future. He will confront those challenges at the age of 73, the oldest monarch to take the throne in a lineage that dates back 1,000 years, with his second wife Camilla, who still divides public opinion, by his side.
To detractors, the new king is ill-equipped for the role of sovereign. Throughout his life, Charles has been caught between modernizing the monarchy and trying to find its place in a fast-changing and more egalitarian society while maintaining traditions that give the institution its allure.
That tension is seen through the lives of his sons.
The eldest, William, 40, now the heir, leads a life of traditional duty, charity work and military pageantry.
His younger son, Harry, 37, resides outside Los Angeles with his American ex-actress wife Meghan and family, forging a new career more in keeping with Hollywood than Buckingham Palace.
The brothers, once very close, are now barely on speaking terms.
Whether this means the “writing is on the wall” for the British monarchy is speculative at best. Yet, while the UK is entering an uncertain future, its past offers a picture of certainty.
As the United Kingdom moves forward to the coronation of its new king, the nation will be forced to look back at the very traditions performed during the ceremony. More specifically, the question will be: What place do centuries-old royal rites have in the 21st century?
This is not a new question.
“When Elizabeth was crowned in 1953, many contemporaries openly asked what the coronation ritual—in essence, the same ritual that was developed and refined in medieval Europe in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries—meant in the modern world of the 1950s,” Rutgers University reported.
A similar sentiment permeated the past several centuries as Britain’s monarchy held less and less control in governmental and public affairs. It was becoming hard to ignore that the world was moving beyond monarchical customs.
And yet those rites have remained more or less unchanged since their institution. In fact, some of the musical performances during these ceremonies reveal roots that originate much earlier.
During Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, musicians performed George F. Handel’s “Zadok the Priest.” The piece was composed for the coronation of King George II in 1727. It evokes the biblical account of Solomon’s anointing as king in Jerusalem over ancient Israel (I Kgs. 1:38-40).
The piece has been sung before every sovereign’s coronation since its composition. However, the text from that scripture has been used in every English and British coronation since 973.
What is the significance of quoting this passage? It evokes a promise for which all monarchs vie.
After God anointed Solomon ruler of Israel, He reiterated a promise made to Solomon’s father. I Kings 9:5 states that God “will establish the throne of your kingdom upon Israel forever, as I promised to David your father, saying, There shall not fail you a man upon the throne of Israel.”
Forever means just that—for all ages! David’s line was said to last through the ages—outliving even the nation of ancient Israel.
That is why Solomon was warned that if he rejected God, “Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house [the Temple in Jerusalem], which I have hallowed for My name, will I cast out of My sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people” (I Kgs. 9:7).
However, nowhere does it say David’s line would be removed from the throne. Israel rejected God and became a “proverb” and a “byword,” with the Temple long since destroyed. Despite this, the promise to Solomon remains intact. The Bible states that—somewhere on Earth today—there is “a man upon the throne” of Israel from David’s lineage.
Where Is Israel?
Although God scattered Israel in ancient times, it still exists in a different form today.
Curiously, British culture is so steeped in Scripture that liturgical music is a staple of royal weddings, funerals and even sporting events.
For instance, one titled “Jerusalem” muses about an extrabiblical legend of a young Jesus Christ coming to visit Britain with Joseph of Arimathea: “And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green?”
Based on a poem by William Blake, the words indicate a desire to build a city of peace in England: “I will not cease from Mental Fight…Till we have built Jerusalem, in England’s green and pleasant Land.”
There is also the Welsh hymn “Bread of Heaven.” While modernized English words are often sung today, a literal translation more clearly reveals a song about ancient Israel traveling to the Promised Land. It asks God to “guide me through the wilderness,” “give me manna,” and provide drink from “the sweet springs which gush forth from the rock.” Another translation calls this “the Rock that is.”
In addition, linguists have noted many marked similarities between Hebrew and Celtic languages.
The British royal seal also contains both a lion and a unicorn. Under this seal, the British Empire ruled. Now read Deuteronomy 33, which describes the descendants of Joseph, a son of Jacob, who was renamed Israel: “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh” (vs. 17).
Israel’s grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim are further described in Genesis 48:19: “Manasseh will also become a great people, but his younger brother [Ephraim] will become even greater. And his descendants will become a multitude of nations” (New Living Translation). Also read Genesis 49:25-26.
The Bible describes these brothers as becoming the standard for prosperity. The following verse states that the surrounding peoples will offer this blessing, “God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh” (Gen. 48:20).
Seriously consider: What other nation has distinct ties to ancient Israel and became “a multitude of nations” that pushed “people together to the ends of the earth”? And what other nation has a brother country that has “become a great people”?
What other nations have had such influence and sky-high standards of living—“If only we could be prosperous like them!”—to which the world earnestly aspires?
Any honest person is left with one conclusion: Great Britain and the United States.
In Amos 9:9, God promised protection for the ancient tribes of Israel as they were “sifted,” or filtered, through the nations. These divided peoples eventually took on the customs and traditions of the countries around them—and forgot their heritage. As a result, they became known as the Lost Ten Tribes, and now inhabit many nations around the globe.
Yet British history is so steeped in clues that point to ancient Israel that God says this about these modern Israelites: “The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider” (Isa. 1:3, New King James Version).
This nation could know. Yet it refuses to consider.
Some few have used the identity of Britain as Ephraim to promote the racist theory of “British Israelism.” This idea is a corruption of the biblical truth regarding the modern descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes. Many who endorse this theory feel Anglo-Saxons are a “chosen people” and often equate the now-defunct British Empire with the Kingdom of God—a teaching plainly at odds with Scripture, which states this Kingdom will be established in the future. (See II Timothy 4:1.)
For more on Britain’s role in Bible prophecy, our book America and Britain in Prophecy provides a deep dive into the scriptures. You will be surprised by how many verses apply to this age.
That includes prophecies specifically addressing the future of the crown in England.
Transfer of the Crown
Another clue to the origin of the British throne lies within the throne itself.
Each coronation involves the king or queen being seated upon the royal chair, which contains the legendary Stone of Scone—also known as the Stone of Destiny.
Writing about the crowning of King George IV, European Magazine said in 1821 that beneath the throne “is enclosed a stone, commonly called Jacob’s Stone, or the Fatal Marble, being an oblong square…of a bluish steel-like colour, mixed with some veins of red; of which tradition relates, that it is the stone on which Jacob lay his head, on the plains of Luz…”
“Jacob’s stone” refers to the very rock the Bible patriarch Jacob laid his head on when he had his dream of a stairway reaching heaven (Gen. 28:10-13).
Ancient Irish annals tell of a patriarch called Ollam Folla or Ollav Fola (roughly meaning “prophet” in both Hebrew and Celtic languages). Irish lore and historical evidence point to the fact that he was the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah. These chronicles of Ireland also record that he brought with him the coronation stone. The tomb of Ollam Folla is still located near Oldcastle in Ireland today.
The prophet was instrumental in carrying out God’s promise to maintain the Davidic line of kings—particularly when Jerusalem was about to be sacked in 589 BC by the Babylonians.
God revealed how this would occur through Ezekiel—a contemporary prophet of Jeremiah. Chapter 21 of Ezekiel’s book foretells Jerusalem’s imminent siege and capture. After that, the prophet revealed David’s royal line would be removed from the land.
Read Ezekiel 21:26: “Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same.”
The “diadem” and “crown” refers to a scepter of rulership that was given to Judah in Genesis 49. Verse 10 states: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet.” Since King David was anointed, Israel was always judged by a Jewish ruler.
However, Ezekiel 21:27 shows what was to happen to this crown after the Babylonians took it from the king in Jerusalem. God states: “I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.”
By stating He would “overturn” the kingdom in Judah, God indicated that He would remove the throne from the land and move it somewhere else.
Space does not permit explaining every detail of Jeremiah’s unique commission in bringing the line of kings to the British Isles almost immediately after the captivity of Jerusalem. (You can read the full story in the sixth chapter of America and Britain in Prophecy.) But history records that God guided events to ensure Judah’s crown lineage—through a process of three “overturns”—would continue until it landed in London. These “overturns” are a type of a future series of events that will affect the descendants of Israel.
But the story does not end there. God’s Word also shows that the Tower of London is not the promised final destination of that crown.
Now read the entire verse: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between His feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.”
This is Jesus Christ. He will return to take the crown and authority over all the modern nations of Israel—not just Ephraim.
Unlike previous British monarchs and kings of ancient Judah, who have had reputations ranging from good to bad, the final occupant of the throne will not have a mixed record. This is the kind of ruler Christ will be: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder” (Isa. 9:6).
He will rule “upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom”—this further shows Christ will take the very throne Charles is scheduled to sit on early next year—“to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (vs. 7).
Jesus Christ’s rulership will not be of mixed quality. It will be perfect, just and infinite in time and size.
So, while Charles may be the final British monarch, it will only be because the throne is turned over—once and for all—to the ultimate King over Israel, Jesus Christ.
Read What Is the Kingdom of God? to learn more about the kind of ruler Jesus Christ will be when He takes His rightful place.