Royal family enthusiasts are gearing up for the event of the century: the British royal coronation of King Charles III. For this historic moment, people from all around the world will watch a majestic display of pomp and circumstance, which has remained mostly unchanged for hundreds of years. To mark this monumental occasion, we’re sharing 10 of the most interesting and fun facts about the British royal coronation ceremony.
1. Coronations have taken place at Westminster Abbey for almost 1,000 years.
The royal coronation ceremony has taken place at Westminster Abbey, London, for the last 900-plus years, with William the Conqueror being the first English king to be crowned in 1066. Westminster Abbey is an Anglican church in the City of Westminster, London, England. It has been the location of the coronations of 39 English and British monarchs.
2. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was one of the first events televised.
Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was the first televised coronation ceremony. And in 1953, 27 million people in the United Kingdom watched the event on television while millions more listened to it on the radio.
3. There’s a coronation guidebook.
The Liber Regalis is a Latin manuscript created in 1382 that details a coronation’s order of service. It’s been used since the late 14th century, and while some procedures have changed over the years, every coronation ceremony has basically followed the same structure outlined in the book.
4. We may never witness the most sacred part of the ceremony.
The Act of Consecration is the most sacred part of the coronation ceremony. This is when the archbishop anoints the monarch with holy oil. Because this is the moment when the king or queen becomes associated with the divine, it’s treated with the utmost respect and privacy.
For the anointing of King Charles III, the consecration oil was created using olives harvested from two groves on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem—at the Monastery of Mary Magdalene and the Monastery of the Ascension. Perfumed with essential oils, the sacred oil blend is based on an ancient recipe used at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
5. The oldest object used in coronations is a spoon.
Much of the medieval and Tudor regalia that was used for coronations was sold or destroyed during the English Civil War of 1642. However, four special things were magically spared—the oldest and most valued being a spoon. The gilded silver anointing spoon is the only piece of royal goldsmiths’ work to survive from the twelfth century.
The oldest object in use at coronations, it was part of St. Edward’s regalia in 1349, and it may have also been used to anoint King Henry II in 1133 or King Richard I in 1157.
6. The monarch is crowned while sitting on a big, ancient stone.
The coronation chair, also known as St Edward's chair or King Edward's chair, is an ancient wooden chair on which British monarchs sit when they are crowned at their coronations. Nested in a compartment under the seat of the chair is one of the most priceless artifacts in existence, the Stone of Destiny.
The coronation stone of Scotland, King Edward I commissioned the Stone of Destiny to be provided for his own coronation in 1296. While the stone is removed from the chair and has traveled back and forth between Scotland and London in the years since, English monarchs continue to use it for their coronations to this day.
7. The orb and the scepters are marvelous and meaningful.
The orb is pure gold and was made in the seventeenth century. It’s divided into three sections with bands of jewels and represents each of the three continents known in the medieval period.
One of the scepters features a cross and represents the monarch’s temporary power and is associated with dutiful governance. It was created for King Charles II. The second scepter features a dove and is known as the “Rod of Equity and Mercy.” It represents the future king or queen’s spiritual role and was created by the crown jeweler, Robert Vyner, in 1661.
8. St. Edward’s Crown is tall and heavy.
The crown placed on the new king or queen’s head is called St. Edward's Crown. It’s brilliant and serves as the centerpiece of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. It was made in 1661 and is solid gold. It’s 12 inches tall, weighs 4.9 pounds, and is decorated with 444 precious and semi-precious stones.
9. Today’s cost for the gold state coach would be upwards of $4 million.
The gold state coach is an enclosed, eight-horse-drawn carriage used by the British royal family for coronation processions. Commissioned in 1760 by Francis Rawdon-Hastings for King George III, it was designed by Sir William Chambers and was built in the London workshops of Samuel Butler. The price tag? £7,562, which equals to about $4.2 million in today’s U.S. dollars. It took about two years to complete.
10. There’s a Queen Consort, but not a King Consort.
If the new monarch is a queen, her husband, or consort, is not crowned or anointed at the coronation ceremony. However, if the new monarch is a king, his consort, or wife, is also crowned. In keeping with royal rule and tradition, a queen consort is crowned with the king in a similar but simpler ceremony.
Get Ready For Your Own Coronation Watch Party
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