Wednesday May 10 2023Britain’s King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave from the Buckingham Palace balcony, in London, following their coronations, on May 6, 2023. PHOTO | POOLOn Saturday, May 6, 2023, the British cultural capital was on full display as King Charles III was coronated in a large display of imperial pageantry.The coronation service music list consisted of a blend of tradition and modernity.During the service’s secret moment, in which the King was anointed with holy oil behind closed screens, a composition by George Frideric Handel titled Zadok the Priest, one of classical music’s greatest names, played out.Specifically, this composition has featured in every coronation over the past four centuries, and its inclusion has a very long royal history.It is said that one of the last official acts of the reign of George I of Great Britain was to both naturalise George Frideric Handel as a British citizen and to commission him to write the coronation anthem for his son and successor, George II.Handel was a German-British baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. During his music career, he shuttled between Germany and Britain.As his ingenuity impressed upon his English audience, he would later relocate to England permanently. Through the 1720s, he composed Italian operatic masterpieces for his London audience.As the year 1727 drew to a close, Britain had been enduring a generation’s worth of political and religious turmoil and the empire was on the brink.Specifically, the union of Scotland and England was shaky, with many Scots and English Catholics (known as Jacobites by name) still supporting the line of the deposed King James II.When George I of the House of Hanover assumed the throne in 1714, he was hardly popular with his subjects. He spoke German and not English.As a consequence, many Jacobites rose against him and joined James in rebellion. While he put down the rebellion, anti-Hanoverian sentiments remained strong.King George I embarked on some soul-searching and looked to the Old Testament to draw a parallel to his situation, and found one in the Biblical book of 1 Kings, which speaks of how King David of Israel, while nearing death faced his own succession crisis.According to the book, King David, after some deliberation, eventually chose his son Solomon as his heir, rather than Adonijah (Solomon’s ambitious half-brother).Solomon was then anointed as the King of Israel by David’s most trusted advisers, Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet in a grand ceremony.But the succession crisis wasn’t only limited to Christianity. Following Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) death in 632, the Ummah (the Islamic community) did not have a consensus on a new leader.This, in large part, was the result of different interpretations of the events surrounding the Prophet’s designation of a successor.Eventually, Abu Bakr, the senior companion to Prophet, and, through his daughter Aisha, the Prophet’s father-in-law, was chosen over Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s cousin (and later son-in-law).Eventually, King George, I’s fears of another Jacobite uprising would prove to be true when in 1745, a rebellion occurred.He then sought to use the spectacle of the coronation of his son, George II, to establish legitimacy in the public’s eye.Thus, he called upon Handel to write an appropriately-grandiose set of anthems for the ceremony. And Handel didn’t disappoint.For the occasion, he wrote Four anthems: The King Shall Rejoice, Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened, My Heart Is Inditing and Zadok the Priest.All four anthems were sung on the coronation day on October 11, 1727. But it is Zadok the Priest that has endured and has been sung at every coronation since 1727.It is the only anthem from Handel’s Four to endure the last three centuries and has traditionally been sung during the sovereign’s anointing.Most recently, it was sung at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953.As a classical music enthusiast, the anthem itself is anything but subtle and a truly haunting piece. There is nobility and certainty of confidence in it.As the anthem was played during King Charles III’s anointing, one imagines oneself marching with solemnity and grace in the ceremony.Ultimately, it is so human to fantasize. At any opportunity, please go ahead and do so. Fantasize you are being crowned a great glory of the earth.The writer is a thought leader.