London. Francis Dymoke won’t ride a horse to the coronation of King Carlos III or challenge any claimant to the throne to combat, as his ancestor did in 1066, but he will carry the royal standard to Westminster Abbey.
Dymoke, a 67-year-old farmer from eastern England, will be the King’s Champion at the coronation, fulfilling a role played by members of his family since William the Conqueror was crowned almost a thousand years ago. He is one of more than twenty ceremonial roles announced on Thursday by Buckingham Palace as organizers try to ensure the coronation remains steeped in tradition while reflecting modern Britain.
While the first Champion earned his role through years of loyal service to the King, Dymoke filled out an online form explaining his family’s historic role in British coronations and waited for government bureaucrats to review his application. Following Thursday’s announcement, Dymoke became the 34th member of his family to participate in a coronation.
“This is the moment of my life that really matters,” he told The Daily Telegraph a few months ago.
Other roles announced on Thursday include those who will carry the king’s regalia to the altar during the May 6 coronation, such as the crown, scepters, orbs, and swords.
Some of the roles were assigned to people with historical claims, such as Dymoke’s, but others were given to high-ranking military officials, bishops, and politicians.
For example, Penny Mordaunt, the Speaker of the House of Commons, will carry the State Sword in her role as Lord President of the Council, which advises the monarch.
Other roles were assigned to lesser-known individuals.
Warrant Officer Amy Taylor will be the first woman to carry the Sword of Offering to the abbey after being selected to represent the country’s men and women in the armed forces.
“Those taking up these historic roles have been chosen to recognize, thank, and represent the nation due to their significant service, and include representatives of the Orders of Chivalry, the military, and public life more generally,” the palace said.
Originally, the King’s Champion rode on horseback into the coronation banquet, threw down a gauntlet, and challenged anyone who doubted the king or queen’s right to rule.
But there has been no coronation banquet since 1821, so Champions now perform other functions, usually carrying a flag or banner, the palace said.
The Dymoke family’s claim to this role was linked to the Lincolnshire lands granted to them during the Norman Conquest of England, according to Dymoke’s statement to The Telegraph. But in the modern world, his invitation to the coronation was not guaranteed.
“All I can do is request to participate,” Dymoke told the newspaper.
“I wrote that…my family has been doing it since William the Conqueror, and while I understand it’s no longer a right…it would be nice to participate.”
The palace agreed.