January 1st 1651
Charles II unusual coronation
Rosemount, Blairgowrie. Picture by Chas Webb
“This day we have done what I earnestly desyred and long expected, crowned our noble King with all the solemnities at Scoone so peaceablie and
magnificentlie as if no enemy had been among us. The King sware the Covenant, the League and Covenant, the Coronation Oath. When Argyle put on the crown Mr. Robert Douglas
prayed weel; when the Chancellor set him in the throne, he exhorted weel; when all were ended he, with great earnestness, pressed sinceritie and constancie in the Covenant on
What really gave Robert Baillie, a famous Presbyterian minister, so much satisfaction was the fact that Charles had accepted the League and Covenant. However, it was to be nine more years, following the death of Cromwell, before Charles began his effective reign as King of Scotland and England. And when that happy day eventually dawned there was little mention of the Covenant. Men still died for their religious beliefs and the Covenanters were hunted and persecuted. It was not until 1688 that Presbyterianism became the accepted and established form of Christian belief in Scotland.
Even in 1651 the “sinceritie and constancie” of King Charles towards the Covenant must have seemed to impartial observers to be in some doubt. Only three months previously he had fled from Perth and the attentions of the more extreme members of the Presbyterian party in control of the city.
On October 4th, he secretly departed with five servants in an attempt to meet up with the more congenial Episcopalian Royalists believed to be waiting for him in the north. The plan was poorly carried out and he only reached as far as Glen Clova before he was discovered and induced to return to Perth.
“The Start,” as the incident was quaintly called, at least demonstrated to Charles that whatever his own religious principles might be (and he was widely described as both a cynic and a sceptic) he would need to co-operate with the Scottish Presbyterians if he expected to be crowned King.