The momentous task for King Charles III

Citizens of republics often find it hard to appreciate the benefits of a constitutional monarchy. By enshrining the identity of the nation above and beyond temporal politics, the constitutional monarch acts as a focus for unity often denied to countries that have instead elected presidents as their head of state.

Few also appreciate that the British monarchy is patterned on ancient Israel. It’s why the monarch is anointed; it’s why words uttered by “Zadok the Priest,” taken from the first Book of Kings, have been sung at every English coronation since 973 CE. Some British monarchs in the past have even purportedly traced their line back to King David.

True, ancient Israel was a theocracy and was also eventually destroyed by internal divisions. Nevertheless, it developed a concept of governance that was to serve as a template for both Britain and America.

The genius of the monarchy invented by King David was that it brought together, as one governable nation, otherwise disparate and potentially warring tribes. 

Even more revolutionary was the ancient Israelites’ concept of limited governance. Their king didn’t enjoy absolute power. He was constrained from below by the authority vested in priests, prophets and judges, and from above by the belief that the supreme ruler whose laws even the king had to follow was the Almighty himself.