Baroness Merron of Lincoln — the former chief executive of the Board of Deputies — will present a floor-length cloak called the Imperial Mantle, or Robe Royal, during the coronation of King Charles, describing it as “an honour beyond anything I could have imagined”.
Lady Merron, the former Labour MP for Lincoln, has been asked to present the ceremonial cloak, which was made for George IV in 1821.
The 3kg mantle, which fastens across the chest with a golden eagle clasp, is supposed to symbolise the divine nature of kingship. It is made of cloth of gold and is embellished with motifs including fleur-de-lis, imperial eagles and the national emblems — red-pink roses, blue thistles and green shamrocks.
It has been worn by previous monarchs during their coronations, including Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
The baroness will present the cloak as a representative of the Jewish community, accompanied by Hindu crossbench peer Lord Patel, who will carry the sovereign’s ring; Lord Kamall, a London-born Muslim, who will carry the armills — a pair of bracelets — and Lord Singh, a Sikh crossbench peer, who will carry the coronation glove. Lady Merron will hand over the robe to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, with Prince William, will place it over the King’s shoulders.
The coronation ceremony has been rewritten, to include representatives of different faiths, in keeping with Charles III’s pledge that he wants to be seen as “defender of faiths” in the diverse society of Britain today.
The choice of Lady Merron to represent the Jewish community was made by the government and Buckingham Palace, in consultation with Lambeth Palace. “I am deeply conscious of the significance of this, and how the King wants [the presence of faith representatives] to define his reign”, Lady Merron told the JC.
She, like the other faith peers, will wear her peer’s robes and then be seated in the congregation at Westminster Abbey after her part in the ceremony concludes.
In her maiden speech to the House of Lords, Baroness Merron declared that her grandparents, who fled pogroms in Russia and Ukraine at the turn of the 20th century, would have been astonished that their granddaughter had become a trade union official, an MP, a government minister, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, and a member of the House of Lords.
Now, she says, she must add her role in the coronation: “They would not have believed it.”
There is an additional charming “wrinkle” to the choice of the baroness carrying the Robe Royal.
Almost certainly unknown to Buckingham Palace or the government, Baroness Merron’s paternal grandparent, born in Kyiv, was, by profession, a presser [of garments] while her mother, who left school at 14, became a seamstress.
So you might say tailoring and clothing were in the blood.