Arts / ‘A day I hope not to forget’: Shetland poet reflects on reading in front of King at royal event

Christine De Luca pictured at a previous event. Photo: Chris Scot

A SHETLAND poet has reflected on reading at the service of thanksgiving for King Charles III in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Christine De Luca read in front of the King as well as the Prince and Princess of Wales at the royal event at St Giles’ Cathedral.

The poet, who now lives in Edinburgh, was asked to read a passage from Matthew’s gospel – the Beatitudes – from the first translation of the New Testament into Scots, dating from 1520.

The event was held to mark the coronation of King Charles III, who was presented with Scotland’s crown jewels.

It was attended by a range of guests and dignitaries, and broadcast live on TV. Anti-monarchy protesters also lined the Royal Mile.

Speaking to Shetland News, De Luca said “yesterday was a day I hope not to forget”.

She said “you might well ask, why me?” when it came to be asked to read the passage – and the poet said she questioned the same.


“I suppose my former role as Edinburgh Makar, coupled with being an elder of the kirk might have been the reason; but it was my Shetland tongue which helped me most,” De Luca said.

“I just read the passage phonetically and hoped for the best.

“Sometimes the old words are the best: it seemed fitting that the merciful, the mild and the peace-makers were valued; and to be reminded that not everyone will respect you even if you are trying your best – the protesters outside could be heard inside the kirk – and that we should take the long-term view.”

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She said she particularly enjoyed that she was “stuck behind a pillar with an interesting and friendly, mutually-respectful group – leaders from Scotland’s Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist communities as well as the Catholic Cardinal, Episcopalian Bishop, as well as other Christian leaders and a Humanist leader”.

“To see, before the service started, the Imam with his arm round the Rabbi’s shoulder, quietly addressing him as his ‘dear brother’, was touching on a day when there was simmering resentments in Jenin,” De Luca continued. “Scotland has come a long way.

“This was also reflected in the congregation and in the initial procession from the castle. As the Moderator reflected in her apt sermon – Scotland is ‘a rich tapestry’ of people.

“The music was a huge part of the service – I especially loved the contributions from the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry, the cathedral choir, Joy Dunlop’s rendering of the 23rd Psalm in Gaelic and Nicola Benedetti with the Honours of Scotland Ensemble playing the haunting piece Soay from The Lost Songs of St Kilda. Some of the music has been specially commissioned for the event.


“And at least the rain held off and we could all enjoy the spectacle of the Household Cavalry riding down the Royal Mile, followed by Scottish military pipe band; and a final flourish from the Red Arrows.

“Little did I think, as a wee lass in a children’s choir singing Shetland songs for the Queen in Eid and for the Queen Mother in Waas all those years ago, that I would have a small part to play in ceremonies involving the next two generations of royals, and that it would still be my mother tongue which would succour me.”

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