The Coronation Ring, or “the wedding ring of England,” as Theo refers to it, is an ornate and “vulgar” bauble which Xan wears as a symbol of his absolute, unquestioned power as the Warden of England. Theo, at his meeting with the Council, tells Xan that there was a time when he would not have felt the need to wear the ring at all—but Xan merely deflects, ensuring Theo that he is only remaining in power for the good and stability of the people. When Theo kills Xan at the novel’s end, after Xan attempts to kill Theo himself, Theo removes the ring from Xan’s corpse and dons it himself. He assures himself—and Julian—that he will only wear it “for a time,” while there are still “evils to be remedied.”
However, when Julian questions why Theo chose to put the ring on at all, he feels a marked “irritation” toward her. The ring, then, symbolizes the dark allure of power; its irresistible, gleaming quality, but also the heavy burden of responsibility its bearer takes on. Whether Theo will be able to carry the weight of the ring, no one is sure—but in taking it on, he has renewed the cycle of self-proclaimed power, which kept Xan in control of a chaotic, unjust, and despairing England for so many years.
The Coronation Ring Quotes in The Children of Men
Carl looked down at the child with his dying eyes. “So it begins again.”
Theo thought: It begins again, with jealousy, with treachery, with violence, with murder, with this ring on my finger. He looked down at the great sapphire in its glitter of diamonds, aware of its weight. Placing it on his hand had been a gesture to assert authority and ensure protection. For a time at least he must take Xan’s place. There were evils to be remedied; but they must take their turn. He couldn’t do everything at once, there had to be priorities. Was that what Xan had found? And was this sudden intoxication of power what Xan had known every day of his life?
Julian looked up at him. For the first time she noticed the ring. She said: “That wasn’t made for your finger.”
For a second, no more, he felt something close to irritation. It must be for him to decide when he would take it off. He said: “It’s useful for the present. I shall take it off in time.”
She seemed for the moment content, and it might have been his imagination that there was a shadow in her eyes.