King Charles III’s Coronation is scheduled to take place next May. He wants it to be a shortened version and less expensive which better suits the current cost of living crisis. However, the Coronation is a deeply historical event going back aeons and part of it includes the anointing of the Monarch with holy oil. Update – the day of the coronation: The Chrism oil used to anoint the King was consecrated in Jerusalem by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, The Most Reverend Hosam Naoum. The Royal.uk website does not mention what I mention on this page about the ingredients of the oil.
It is said that when the Queen Mother was anointed with the oil, she felt that she became imbued with royalty because of the oil’s deeply religious connection. I also understand that Queen Elizabeth II felt that her anointment in 1953 was an important part of the event, giving her a regal feeling once again because of the oil’s religious connection. The late Queen was a religious person.
The composition of the oil used is founded upon a recipe from the 17th-century. It’s a secret mixture of olive oil, sesame, ambergris, orange flowers, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, mask, benzoin and oil from the glands of a civet cat.
The important point to note here is that civet cats are not true cats. The name is misleading. There are not members of the cat family although they do have a passing resemblance to wild cats.
This means that this article is not quite suited to this website, but I couldn’t resist because the story is interesting.
The Daily Mail states that extracting the oil from the glands of civet cats is a traumatic and painful process during which some civets are said to starve to death (read more below). For the sake of completeness, the oil that I’m referring to it apparently civet musk which is a glandular secretion produced by both sexes of this species of animal.
It is secreted in their perineal glands. The oil is farmed in Africa where African civets are kept in cages. African civets normally produce 3-4 grams per week. About 20 years ago it was sold for about $500 per kilogram.
We are told that in Ethiopia civet cats can spend up to 15 years in tiny boxes in order to farm the oil from them. A deeply cruel activity. The oil is extracted every 9 to 15 days. The animals are pinned by the neck and the oil is squeezed from the gland at the base of the tail. More abuse.
PETA has called on King Charles III to intervene to remove the mask from the coronation oil. It’s only one ingredient of many as you can see and I for one can’t see why it can’t be removed.
Buckingham Palace appears to be resistant to PETA’s request and say the oil will combine the ancient and modern and its creation will be “rooted in long-standing traditions.”
It is a soft “almost liquid” material and pale yellow in colour when fresh but darkened by light and having a salve-like consistency. It has a strong odour bordering on putrid but once it is diluted it has a sweetly aromatic and pleasant smell. It is used in the perfumery business when it is prepared by solvent extraction to create a tincture.
The US does not allow civets to be imported, not to protect them from this farming process but they can transmit the SARS virus. The US allows the importation of civet oil.
King Charles III is an environmentalist who might be able to do something about it. The anointment using an oil extracted with cruelty puts pressure on the eco-credentials of the new king, the Daily Mail states. He is president of the World Wildlife Fund and patron of the Wildlife Trusts.
The civet like to live in tropical forests and they are mostly from the family Viverridae; feliform mammals. The civet must use this oil to mark territory in the same way that domestic cats mark territory with urine.
We don’t know what happens during the anointment as a very expensive screen made for the purpose was placed around the King and those anointing him. But he looked a bit shook up afterwards. At one stage I thought he was going to pass out.
P.S. there was another animal welfare problem with the coronation. There were a lot of soldiers wearing bearskin hats. These come from real bears shot in Canada when the MOD could have found a synthetic alternative 20 years ago. Not good. And the royals have a history of sport hunting too. Charles apparently loves fox hunting.
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