This article was published in the March 2013 issue of Anglican Journal.
As Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is always invited to the enthronement of a new Archbishop of Canterbury.
She does not attend, however, and instead sends a member of the Royal Family in her place. The Prince of Wales will grace the enthronement on March 21 of Archbishop Justin Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.
“She’s invited, but it’s really the Archbishop’s day,” explained the Dean of Canterbury Robert Willis, when asked why the Queen does not attend the historic event.
About 2,000 have been invited to the service at the medieval Canterbury Cathedral, including Welby’s wife, Caroline, their five children, and other family members.
Invitees include diocesan bishops from the Church of England, Church of England officials, civil leaders, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and members of his cabinet, leaders of various denominations and faiths, primates and other leaders of the Anglican Communion, ambassadors of nations that have a primate present at the ceremony, members of the cathedral congregation and volunteers.
“The event is massively oversubscribed. There are many, many people who would love to be there,” said Willis.
A special service will be held for the cathedral congregation two days after Welby’s enthronement, on Saturday, March 23, at 11 a.m.
The ceremony will be broadcast live by the BBC.