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King Charles Coronation to Feature Greek Orthodox Music

King Charles III
Greek Orthodox chanting led by Dr. Alexandros Ligas will form a part of the proceedings of the coronation of King Charles III Credit: House of Lords 2022 / Annabel Moeller / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

The conductor of one of the choirs that will sing at the coronation of King Charles III will be Dr. Alexandros Ligas, a Greek professor of Orthodox music and founder of the Cappella Romana choir.

The coronation is taking place today, May 6, about eight months after the death of King Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

The coronation will include Greek Orthodox chanting as a homage to the king’s late father, Prince Philip, who was born in Corfu and was a member of the former Greek royal family.

Greek Orthodox music at the coronation of King Charles III

“At the request of His Majesty, in tribute to his late father His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Greek Orthodox music will also feature in the service performed by the Byzantine Chant Ensemble,” said a recent announcement by Buckingham Palace.

The Byzantine Chant Ensemble will be led by Dr. Alexander Lingas, who formed the ensemble especially for the coronation. The ensemble is made up of experienced singers who have served as cantors in cathedrals and parishes in the UK and Greece.

The singers have also acted as “educators for the Byzantine Music School of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, and in such specialist choirs as the Greek Byzantine Choir, the Maïstores of the Psaltic Art, and Cappella Romana,” according to the Cappella Romana website.

“As a scholar and practitioner of the ancient traditions of Byzantine chant, I am deeply honored to have been asked to help realize the request of His Majesty, King Charles III that the Coronation include a musical tribute to his late father, His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” said Lingas, reflecting on his involvement in the forthcoming coronation.

“Integrating Greek psalmody into the equally ancient rites of the Coronation Service is a profound and beautiful demonstration of the deep appreciation for Orthodox Christianity long shown by both His Majesty and the late Duke of Edinburgh,” the professor continued.

The British royal family’s links to Greece

King Charles’ main link to Greece and the Orthodox faith is through his late father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was himself the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark.

Prince Philip, who died in 2021 at the age of 99, was born on the dining room table of the villa Mon Repos situated on the coast of the Greek island of Corfu. The villa’s French name means “My Rest,” and was a place of rest for the Greek Royals in the past century.

However, political turmoil forced the Greek royal family into exile and the infant Prince Philip was spirited away from Greece and hidden inside a crate of oranges.

Prince Philip generally distanced himself from his heritage as a Greek royal and never visited the country of his birth after the exile of his family in any official capacity. However, King Charles is a staunch Philhellene and has visited Greece several times recently.

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