If you’re tuning into the coronation of King Charles III today on the telly - and let’s face it, there’s not much else on - you might hear a piece of music that you’ll recognise from somewhere different.
When you’re watching Charles put on his big shiny hat, whether through servile devotion or through sheer morbid curiosity, you might just hear something that you’re more likely to associate with Bayern Munich vs Valencia - the Champions League anthem.
That’s because, before it was the anthem of Europe’s premiere club football competition it was a song called 'Zadok the Priest'.
In actual fact, it’s called 'Zadok then Priest: The Coronation Anthem'.
Yes, from extravagant hat-wearers to expansive playmakers, everyone knows that there’s going to be a show when they hear that iconic piece of music.
It was first composed by George Frideric Handel back in 1727 for the crowning of King George II, and has featured at the coronations of every single monarch in the United Kingdom since then.
It’s always sung just before whichever sovereign is anointed with holy oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Just another day on Totally Normal Island, right?
Handel was a German, but became a British citizen in that same year, having spent much of his working life in the country.
Discussing how he got the gig, Encyclopaedia Britannica explains: “When England’s Queen Anne died without immediate heirs, the throne passed to her German cousin, the elector himself, who was crowned George I and was pleased to claim the attention of Handel.
“George I’s son, George II, also preferred the work of his father’s longtime favourite, and he requested that Handel write music for his coronation.”
The words for this version are biblical, telling the tale of how a priest - you’ve guessed it - called Zadok anointed Solomon the king of ancient Israel.
In 1992, it was re-composed to fit the theme of football anthem by Tony Britten, who was tasked with making it the key musical feature of the remodelled European Cup - the Champions League.
As you know, the lyrics were also changed as well as some of the tune, and it's now sung in French, German, and English, the three official languages of UEFA, Europe’s football governing body.
That’s where the famous ‘the champions’ theme comes in.
Speaking about his task in 2013, Britten said: “I had a commercials agent and they approached me to write something anthemic and because it was just after the Three Tenors at the World Cup in Italy so classical music was all the rage.
“Hooliganism was a major, major problem and Uefa wanted to take the game into a completely different area altogether.
“There’s a rising string phase which I pinched from Handel and then I wrote my own tune.
“It has a kind of Handelian feel to it but I like to think it’s not a total rip-off.”
Well, they’re both bangers, to be fair.
Featured Image Credit: BBC/Steven Jones/Alamy
Topics: King Charles III, Music, Sport, UK News, Weird, Coronation