Public pledge of allegiance at coronation is an invitation, not a command, says Welby

(Photo: Lambeth Palace/Jaqui J Sze)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has defended a public pledge of allegiance to the King during his coronation on Saturday. 

The 'homage of the people' is a new addition to the traditional coronation ceremony, and replaces the 'homage of the peers' that was formerly said by heriditary peers.

On Saturday, members of the public will be invited to "pay true allegiance" to the King outloud while watching on TV or in public, but not everyone supports the idea. 

According to the order of service, Archbishop Justin Welby, who is leading the service, will ask that "all who so desire, in the abbey, and elsewhere, say together:

"I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God."

Responding to criticism of the 'homage of the people', Archbishop Justin Welby, told the BBC that it was "voluntary" and "fine" if people did not want to do it.

"In every Anglican service, every Christian service, it is normal for congregations to participate," he said.

"It's an invitation - so if you want to join in at this point, by all means do so.

"If you don't want to, that's fine. There's no drama to it."

He repeated his comments in an interview with ITV News in which he said that it "isn't a command" and that if people did not want to join in, "that's entirely up to them."