British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Made History at King Charles III's Coronation

He's the first person of color and the first non-Christian to speak at the ceremony.

British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak makes a speech during the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 06, 2023 in London, England. The Coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as King and Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the other Commonwealth realms takes place at Westminster Abbey today. Charles acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022, upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II.
(Image credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

This morning, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak read a Bible passage during the coronation of King Charles III. And while the participation of the Prime Minister in the coronation of the monarch is, indeed, tradition, this year is particularly noteworthy: Sunak is the first person of color, as well as the first non-Christian, to play such a lead role in the ceremony. 

Sunak, who is of Indian descent and whose parents emigrated to the U.K. from East Africa, is the first person of color to hold the position of prime minister, and is also the first Hindu to do so. In a moment that highlighted the cosmopolitanism of modern Britain and the nation's pivot away from its imperial past, the conservative politician played a central role in the ceremony at Westminster Abbey today by reading a biblical verse from Colossians and by heading the procession of flag-bearers into the Abbey. 

In a statement released just before the coronation, he acknowledged the significance of this moment, writing, "In the Abbey where monarchs have been crowned for almost a thousand years, representatives of every faith will play a central role for the first time." Calling today's ceremony "a cherished ritual through which a new era is born," he called on U.K. citizens to "celebrate this weekend with pride in who we are and what we stand for" and to "look to the future with hope and optimism." 

Finally, he capped off his patriotic written statement with the sentiment ringing loud throughout London: "God Save The King."

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, fashion, culture, and politics both at Marie Claire and for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.