Notes 34 and 35/Lord and King


Despite centuries of past precedents, each monarch brings their own personal touch to their coronation, whether it’s spending lavishly or sticking to a budget, commissioning new music or new Crown Jewels, or, more recently, inviting television cameras into Westminster Abbey”



5 MAY 2023

On May 6, the coronation of King Charles III will take place at London’s Westminster Abbey. It’s a tradition that’s shaped the history of the monarchy from medieval to modern times—but the ceremony hasn’t always gone according to plan…

A Thousand Years of Coronations

On May 6, King Charles III will be crowned in Westminster Abbey with his consort, Queen Camilla. While Charles became King at the moment of the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Sept. 8, 2022, the coronation ceremony serves to symbolize the monarch’s lifelong commitment to the roles of sovereign and supreme Governor of the Church of England. At the event, King Charles III will be crowned King of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth realms (including Canada). He’ll be anointed with holy oil, and will swear to govern as a constitutional monarch according to the laws decided in parliament.

While key traditions associated with modern royal weddings, christenings and jubilees date from Queen Victoria’s reign in the 19th century, the coronation service is much older. It was written by St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury in AD 973, and Westminster Abbey has been the setting for coronations since 1066. Charles III will be the 40th monarch to be crowned there.

Despite centuries of past precedents, each monarch brings their own personal touch to their coronation, whether it’s spending lavishly or sticking to a budget, commissioning new music or new Crown Jewels, or, more recently, inviting television cameras into Westminster Abbey. Here are 12 memorable British royal coronations that shaped the history of the monarchy from medieval to modern times—including a few that did not go according to plan.

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (1953)

Coronation on Television

The accession of the 25-year-old Queen Elizabeth II on Feb. 6, 1952, symbolized the beginning of “a new Elizabethan age” after the austerity of the Second World War. The decision to invite television cameras into Westminster Abbey to film the whole ceremony (except for the sacred anointing of the monarch) on June 2, 1953, seemed to bring the monarchy into the modern age, allowing audiences around the world to feel as though they were part of this landmark event. More than 250-million people watched on television as Queen Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms, many purchasing television sets for the first time for the occasion and hosting coronation parties. In Westminster Abbey, the four-year-old future King Charles III attended the ceremony, seated between his aunt, Princess Margaret, and grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Take a look back at the incredible life of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Coronation of King George VI (1937)

A Change in King

While 16 months passed between Elizabeth II’s accession and coronation, her father, King George VI, didn’t have nearly so long to wait. When Edward VIII abdicated to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson, George VI succeeded his brother as King, and was crowned just five months later on Dec. 11, 1936—the day originally scheduled for Edward’s coronation. Under the circumstances, the coronation followed past traditions to emphasize continuity, but there were a few significant departures. For the first time, the coronation was broadcast on the radio and film footage was shown in cinema newsreels. The coronation oath also changed to reflect the equal status of the United Kingdom and Dominions following the 1926 Balfour Declaration and 1931 Statute of Westminster. George VI swore “to govern the peoples of Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa, of your Possessions and the other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, and of your Empire of India, according to their respective laws and customs”—setting the tone for the development of the modern Commonwealth.

Get to know Queen Elizabeth’s great-grandchildren.

The Coronation of King George V (1911)

A New Crown

St. Edward’s Crown has been used at coronations since 1661, but it wasn’t permanently set with precious stones until much more recently. (Instead, gems were loaned by jewellers to decorate the crown for individual coronations, then returned after the ceremony.) For his 1911 coronation, King George V and his consort, Queen Mary, arranged for the crown to be permanently set with 444 precious stones. Queen Mary purchased an Art Deco-inspired crown for her own crowning as Queen consort, and this will be used to crown Queen Camilla at Charles III’s coronation.

George V’s coronation was also notable for the additional events planned around the coronation to showcase the British Empire and the Royal Navy. There was a Coronation Naval Review of the Fleet, which attracted a quarter-million spectators, and a Festival of Empire, which included “Inter-Empire Championships,” the forerunner of the modern Commonwealth Games.

Here are the 10 most memorable royal visits to Canada.

The Coronation of King Edward VII (1902)

A Medical Emergency

When Queen Victoria’s eldest son succeeded to throne in 1901 as King Edward VII at the age of 59, planning his coronation was a challenge. So much time had passed since Victoria’s coronation in 1838 that few people remembered how the ceremony should unfold. Luckily, Victoria’s elderly cousin, Princess Augusta of Cambridge was on hand to provide valuable insights for the planning committee.

Once the plans were in place, they were derailed by a medical emergency. Just two days before the planned coronation on June 26, 1902, Edward VII underwent an emergency operation for appendicitis on a table in the music room of Buckingham Palace. The coronation was rescheduled to Aug. 9. Despite his uncertain health, Edward VII refused suggestions that the ceremony, including the anointing, be condensed, stating, “If I am going to be done, I am going to be done properly.”

Discover 10 Canadian hotels that have hosted royal guests.

The Coronation of Queen Victoria (1838)

Leftovers in Westminster Abbey

The coronation of the 19-year-old Queen Victoria on June 28, 1838, took place without a rehearsal, resulting in numerous mishaps. When the Queen entered St. Edward’s chapel in Westminster Abbey, she found half-eaten sandwiches and empty bottles of wine on the altar, which had been enjoyed by guests involved in the ceremony including Prime Minister Lord Melbourne. An 82-year-old peer named Lord Rolle stumbled on the steps before the throne while paying homage to the Queen and rolled backward, regaining his footing with the Queen’s assistance. Queen Victoria noted another uncomfortable moment in her journal: “The Archbishop had (most awkwardly) put the [coronation] ring on the wrong finger, and the consequence was that I had the greatest difficulty to take it off again, which I at last did with great pain.”

The young Queen’s calm demeanour and good humour during all these unfortunate moments endeared her to the public. Throughout her long reign, Victoria would ensure royal ceremonies were better organized, introducing innovations that continue to the present day.

Here are more Queen Victoria facts most people don’t know.

The Coronation of King William IV (1831)

The Half-Crown Nation

Queen Victoria’s uncle, William IV, was a retired naval officer who had no interest in royal ceremony. Over the course of his seven-year reign, he repeatedly tried to give away Buckingham Palace. (Neither the navy nor parliament was interested.) After first questioning whether a coronation was necessary at all, William ultimately conceded to a simplified ceremony. He agreed to travel to Westminster Abbey in the gold state coach (above) commissioned for the coronation of his father, King George III, but he refused to allow a coronation banquet and wore his admiral’s uniform rather than ceremonial dress. Tory members of parliament who objected to the comparative absence of pomp and circumstance nicknamed the ceremony,“The Half-Crown Nation.”

Don’t miss our ultimate guide to royal residences.

The Coronation of King George IV (1821)

No Invitation for the Queen Consort

William IV’s determination to hold a coronation on a budget may have been an effort to distance himself from his unpopular older brother (and predecessor), George IV. Known for his lavish spending, George IV had the most expensive coronation in British history, complete with a new crown decorated with 12,000 diamonds. An enthusiastic collector of French art and furnishings, he also commissioned an exact replica of Napoleon Bonaparte’s lavish coronation robes from a workshop in Paris—a controversial decision in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.

His coronation would not be remembered for its pageantry, however, but for the King’s refusal to invite the Queen consort to the ceremony. When George IV’s estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick, arrived at Westminster Hall, she was told by the doorman that she could not enter without a ticket. Her efforts to find another entrance were blocked by a line of soldiers. After arguing with numerous officials, the uncrowned consort departed in her carriage as the crowds chanted, “Shame! Shame!” She died two weeks later.

Check out the most scandalous royal memoirs ever published.

The Coronation of King George II (1727)

Coronation Anthems

The coronation of George IV’s great-grandfather, George II, also included extravagant fashions. George II’s Queen consort, Caroline of Ansbach, wore a dress so heavily encrusted with jewels that she required a pulley to lift the skirt so that she could kneel to take communion during the ceremony. The enduring legacy of George II’s coronation, however, was the composition of four choral coronation anthems by George Frederic Handel. The most famous of these anthems, Zadok the Priest, has been sung before the anointing at every subsequent monarch’s coronation.

In 2023, Charles III followed in George II’s footsteps by commissioning new coronation anthems. There will 12 original compositions performed at Charles III’s coronation, including an anthem by Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Here are 10 history podcasts worth adding to your playlist.

The Coronation of Charles II (1661)

New Crown Jewels

The English Civil Wars left the country without a king for 11 years. When Charles II returned to England to reclaim the throne in 1660, a coronation was essential to symbolize the restoration of the monarchy. Unfortunately, only one piece of coronation regalia had survived: the silver anointing spoon acquired by Henry II or his son Richard the Lionheart in the 12th century. Recognizing the urgent need for new Crown Jewels, Charles II commissioned a new St. Edward’s Crown, orb and sceptre from his goldsmith, Sir Edward Vyner—then defaulted on the payments for the regalia following the Stop of the Exchequer in 1672, when the state defaulted on its debts.

After the ceremony, the new Crown Jewels were stored in the Tower of London, where they made a tempting target for thieves. In 1671, an Anglo-Irish officer by the name of Colonel Thomas Blood gained access to the Tower of London disguised as clergyman, overpowered the Master of the Jewel House and stole St. Edward’s Crown. Blood was apprehended on Tower Wharf, shouting, “It was a gallant attempt, however unsuccessful! It was for a crown!” Security at the Tower of London would improve, but attempts to steal the Crown Jewels continue to this day.

Check out current estimates of how much the Crown Jewels are worth.

The Coronation of Henry III (1216 and 1220)

Two Coronations

Charles II wasn’t the only king who scrambled to find a crown in time for his coronation. When Henry III succeeded his father, the villainous King John, at the age of nine, he was left without royal regalia. (John had lost the Crown Jewels when his baggage train overturned in a marsh in 1215, as he hurried to flee rebel barons and a French invasion after repudiating Magna Carta earlier that year.)

The First Barons’ War was still raging when John died suddenly in 1216. With rebel barons and a French army occupying London, Westminster Abbey was not available as a coronation venue. Henry’s supporters hastily organized a ceremony at Gloucester Cathedral where the boy king was crowned with one of his mother’s circlets just 10 days after his father’s death. Neither the young king nor his regents thought this coronation was sufficient to guarantee a monarch’s authority in tumultuous times, so after the First Barons’ War ended and the French were defeated, the teenaged Henry petitioned the Pope for permission to be crowned again. In 1220, Henry III received a traditional coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Test your knowledge with these history questions people always get wrong.

The Coronation of King William I (1066)

Riot on Coronation Day

After William, Duke of Normandy defeated the last Anglo-Saxon English King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, he was crowned King William I at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day. When the bishops performing the ceremony asked the English people if they accepted their new King, the crowds shouted their approval—in English. Unfortunately, William’s guards spoke only Norman French and thought they were hearing an assassination attempt. The guards began attacking the crowds and set fire to nearby buildings. Inside Westminster Abbey, the coronation guests panicked and stampeded out of the Abbey before the ceremony was over. The riot at the coronation left the new king so concerned about his personal security that he ordered the construction of the Tower of London as a royal residence, fortress and prison; a historic site which still stands today.

The Coronation of Edgar the Peaceable (973)

1000 Years of Monarchy

In 973, St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote the coronation service for the crowning of the Anglo-Saxon King of England, Edgar the Peaceable, and his consort, Aelfthryth, at Bath Abbey. The ceremony marked the zenith of Edgar’s reign rather than its beginning. By 973, Edgar had been king for 14 years, taking advantage of a lull in Viking attacks to acquire more ships and reform the monasteries.

In 1973, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and their children attended a service at Bath Abbey to mark the 1000th anniversary of Edgar the Peaceable’s coronation. When King Charles III is crowned, he will be following in the footsteps of a thousand years of kings and queens who pledged their lifelong commitment to their people in a coronation ceremony.

Next, take a look back at King Charles’s most memorable visits to Canada.



Monarchs of England (900–1603)[edit]

MonarchConsortDate of accessionDate of coronationPresiding cleric
Edward the Elder26 October 899Whit Sunday, 8 June 900
Kingston upon Thames
Plegmund, Archbishop of Canterbury
Æthelstan17 July 9244 September 925
Kingston upon Thames
Athelm, Archbishop of Canterbury
Edmund I27 October 939Possibly 1 December 939
Kingston upon Thames
Oda, Archbishop of Canterbury
Eadred26 May 94616 August 946
Kingston upon Thames
Eadwig23 November 95526 January 956
Kingston upon Thames
EdgarÆlfthryth1 October 959Whit Sunday, 11 May 973
Bath Abbey
Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury
Edward the Martyr8 July 975August 975
Kingston upon Thames
Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury and Oswald, Archbishop of York
Æthelred the Unready18 March 978April 978
Kingston upon Thames
Edmund Ironside23 April 101625 April 1016
Old St Paul’s Cathedral
Lyfing, Archbishop of Canterbury
Cnut30 November 1016Possibly January 1017
Old St Paul’s Cathedral
Harthacnut17 March 1040Possibly June 1040
Canterbury Cathedral
Eadsige, Archbishop of Canterbury
Edward the Confessor8 June 1042Easter Sunday, 3 April 1043
Old Minster, Winchester
Edith of WessexJanuary 1045
Old Minster, Winchester
Harold II5 January 1066Saturday, 6 January 1066
probably at Westminster Abbey
Ealdred, Archbishop of York or
Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury[1]
William I – article[a]Nov-Dec 1066Christmas Day,
Monday, 25 December 1066
Ealdred, Archbishop of York
[b]Matilda of FlandersSunday, 11 May 1068
William II[c]9 September 1087Sunday, 26 September 1087Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury
Henry I[d]2 August 1100Sunday, 5 August 1100Maurice, Bishop of London
[b]Matilda of Scotland11 November 1100
Sunday, 11 November 1100Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Adeliza of Louvain24 January 1121
Sunday, 30 January 1121Ralph d’Escures, Archbishop of Canterbury
Stephen[a]Thursday, 26 December 1135William de Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Matilda of BoulogneSunday, 22 March 1136?
Henry IIEleanor of Aquitaine25 October 1154Sunday, 19 December 1154Theobald of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury
Henry the Young King[a]Sunday, 14 June 1170Roger de Pont L’Evêque, Archbishop of York
Margaret of FranceSunday, 27 August 1172
Winchester Cathedral
Rotrou, Archbishop of Rouen
Richard I[d]6 July 1189Sunday, 3 September 1189Baldwin of Exeter, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Berengaria of Navarre12 May 1191
Sunday, 12 May 1191
Kingdom of Cyprus
John[d]6 April 1199Ascension Day,
Thursday, 27 May 1199
Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Isabella of Angoulême24 August 1200
Sunday, 8 October 1200
Henry III[d]19 October 1216Friday, 28 October 1216
Church of St. Peter in Gloucester
(now Gloucester Cathedral)
Cardinal Guala Bicchieri or
Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester
[d]Sunday, 17 May 1220Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Eleanor of Provence14 January 1236
Sunday, 20 January 1236Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury
Edward IEleanor of Castile16 November 1272Sunday, 19 August 1274Robert Kilwardby, Archbishop of Canterbury
Edward IIIsabella of France7 July 1307Sunday, 25 February 1308Henry Woodlock, Bishop of Winchester
Edward III[d]20 January 1327Sunday, 1 February 1327Walter Reynolds, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Philippa of Hainault24 January 1328
Sunday, 18 February 1330Simon Mepeham, Archbishop of Canterbury
Richard II[d]21 June 1377Thursday, 16 July 1377Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Anne of Bohemia20 January 1382
Thursday, 22 January 1382William Courtenay, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Isabella of Valois1 November 1396
Monday, 8 January 1397Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury
Henry IV[d]30 September 1399Monday, 13 October 1399
[b]Joanna of Navarre7 February 1403
Monday, 26 February 1403
Henry V[d]20 March 1413Sunday, 9 April 1413
[b]Catherine of Valois2 June 1420
Sunday, 23 February 1421Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury
Henry VI[d]31 August 1422Sunday, 6 November 1429
[d]21 October 1422Sunday, 16 December 1431
as King of France
Notre Dame de Paris
Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester
[b]Margaret of Anjou23 April 1445
Sunday, 30 May 1445John Stafford, Archbishop of Canterbury
Edward IV[d]4 March 1461Sunday, 28 June 1461Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Elizabeth Woodville1 May 1464
Sunday, 26 May 1465
Richard IIIAnne Neville25 June 1483Sunday, 6 July 1483
Henry VII[d]22 August 1485Sunday, 30 October 1485
[b]Elizabeth of York18 January 1486Sunday, 25 November 1487John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury
Henry VIII – articleCatherine of Aragon21 April 1509 (King)
11 June 1509 (Queen)
Sunday, 24 June 1509William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury
[b]Anne Boleyn– article28 May 1533
Sunday, 1 June 1533Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
Edward VI – article[c]28 January 1547Sunday, 20 February 1547
Mary I – article[d]19 July 1553Sunday, 1 October 1553Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester
Elizabeth I – article[c]17 November 1558Sunday, 15 January 1559Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle

Monarchs of England, Ireland and Scotland (1603–1707)[edit]

From 1603 onwards England, Ireland and Scotland were personally united under the same ruler (see Personal union).

MonarchConsortDate of accessionTime interveningDate of coronationPresiding cleric
James VI and I – articleAnne of Denmark24 March 1602/1603, O.S.[g]4 mo 1 dMonday, 25 July 1603, O.S.John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury
Charles I[h]27 March 1625, O.S.10 mo 6 dThursday, 2 February 1625/1626, O.S.[g]George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury
Charles II[d]30 January 1648/1649, O.S.[g] (de jure)
8 May 1660, O.S. (de facto)
11 mo 15 dSaint George’s Day,
Tuesday, 23 April 1661, O.S.
William Juxon, Archbishop of Canterbury
James II and VIIMary of Modena6 February 1684/1685, O.S.[g]2 mo 17 dSaint George’s Day,
Thursday, 23 April 1685, O.S.
William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury
William III and II and Mary II(reigned jointly)13 February 1688/1689, O.S.[g]1 mo 29 dThursday, 11 April 1689, O.S.Henry Compton, Bishop of London
Anne[i]8 March 1701/1702, O.S.[g]1 mo 15 dThursday, 23 April 1702, O.S.Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury

Monarchs of Great Britain and Ireland (1707–1801)[edit]

MonarchConsortDate of accessionTime interveningDate of coronationPresiding cleric
George I[j]1 August 1714, O.S.2 mo 19 dWednesday, 20 October 1714, O.S.Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury
George II – articleCaroline of Ansbach11 June 1727, O.S.4 moWednesday, 11 October 1727, O.S.William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury
George III – articleCharlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz25 October 1760 (King)
8 September 1761 (Queen) marriage
10 mo 28 d 14 dTuesday, 22 September 1761Thomas Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury

Monarchs of the United Kingdom (1801–present)[edit]

MonarchConsortDate of accessionTime interveningDate of coronationPresiding cleric
George IV – article[k]29 January 18201 y 5 mo 20 dThursday, 19 July 1821Charles Manners-Sutton, Archbishop of Canterbury
William IV – articleAdelaide of Saxe-Meiningen26 June 18301 y 2 mo 13 dThursday, 8 September 1831William Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury
Victoria – article[d][i]20 June 18371 y 8 dThursday, 28 June 1838
Edward VII – articleAlexandra of Denmark22 January 19011 y 6 mo 18 dSaturday, 9 August 1902[l]Frederick Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury
George V – articleMary of Teck6 May 19101 y 1 mo 16 dThursday, 22 June 1911Randall Davidson, Archbishop of Canterbury
Edward VIII – article[m]20 January 19361 y 3 mo 22 dWednesday, 12 May 1937 (cancelled due to his abdication)Cosmo Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury
George VI – articleElizabeth Bowes-Lyon11 December 19365 mo 1 dWednesday, 12 May 1937[n]
Elizabeth II – article[i]6 February 19521 y 3 mo 27 dTuesday, 2 June 1953Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury
Charles III – articleCamilla Shand8 September 20227 m 28 dSaturday, 6 May 2023Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury



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