Guide to Royal
coronation ceremony is over 1,000 years old. It was first planned by St Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, for the crowning of King
the centuries some sovereigns have had ill omens at their coronations. A bat
swooped round the head of Richard I as he assumed the crown. Richard II lost a
shoe as he left the Abbey. Charles I wore white, which many said was unlucky.
James II's crown wobbled and nearly fell during the
IV thought the ceremony 'a pointless piece of flummery' in the words of his
biographer, Philip Ziegler; and looked comical rather than regal, and 'very
infirm in his walk'. There was great splendour for
Edward VII was to have been crowned in June 1902 but the coronation was postponed until August because of his serious illness. When the ceremony took place the ancient Archbishop of Canterbury caused great confusion. He almost fell over with the Crown, was only just prevented from putting it on the wrong way round, and had to be helped up after paying homage to the King on behalf of the church. In consequence of past mishaps, there were careful preparations for George VI's coronation in May 1937, but even so rehearsals in the Abbey were chaotic, with the Archbishop of Canterbury wandering about crying 'Where is the Lord of the Manor of Worksop?' (who had the right to present an embroidered glove). There was dismay when the Orb was lost, until the six-year-old Princess Margaret was found playing with it on the floor. The King recorded his own worries, particularly over the reading, and whether his Crown would be the right way round; but despite some anxious moments all went well.
Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in June 1953 was well rehearsed, dignified and well ordered, thanks to the calm organisation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Earl Marshal. The only adverse factor was the weather, but the pouring rain could not diminish the enthusiasm of the huge crowds. It was the first coronation to be televised. The coronation of her father, George VI, had been the first 'to be recorded by cinematography' and the first coronation photographs were taken at that of her grandfather, George V, in 1911.
order of service closely followed the Liber
Regalis written and illustrated in the 14th
century and kept in Westminster Abbey. In it the parts to be played by the
various dignitaries and officials in the rite are carefully laid down. The
Queen walked into the Abbey at the end of a procession of 250, pausing first at
the area, between the Choir and the Sanctuary, known as the Theatre. There were
the three chairs used during the ceremony by the Sovereign - the Chair of
State; the Throne; and King Edward's Chair, holding the Stone of Scone which
was first used for the coronation of Edward II in 1308. In the rite, known as
the Recognition, the Archbishop presented the Queen to the congregation and
asked if they were willing to do homage and service. All cried 'God Save Queen
Elizabeth' and the trumpets sounded. The Oath followed and the Presentation of
the Bible, and then the Communion Service began. After the Creed the Queen took
her place in King Edward's Chair, clad in a simple white gown, for the
Anointing. She was invested with the royal robes and ornaments: the Jewelled Sword, the Armils (gold
bracelets of sovereignty and wisdom), the Orb and Sceptre
and the Coronation Ring. Then everyone in the Abbey rose as the Archbishop of
Canterbury, having dedicated St Edward's Crown, raised it on high and solemnly
lowered it on to the Queen's head. All shouted 'God Save the Queen', the
trumpets sounded and the guns of the
The enthronement followed and then the Queen received the homage of the Princes and Peers. After the Homage the drums beat and the trumpets sounded and all cried 'God Save Queen Elizabeth, Long live Queen Elizabeth, May the Queen live for ever.' The Queen and Prince Philip then retired to St Edward's Chapel where the Queen was arrayed in her Royal Purple Robe and the weighty St Edward's Crown was replaced by the lighter Imperial State Crown. Finally the newly crowned Queen moved with her great procession through the Abbey to the West Door to the sounds of the National Anthem and the pealing of bells.