The History Behind The Coronation Regalia Used In King Charles’s Coronation

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On May 6, 2023, His Majesty King Charles III was crowned alongside his wife, the Queen Consort Camilla. It was the first British coronation the world has witnessed in 70 years after Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953.

The Coronation Ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey, London, and was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. 

King Charles III is now officially recognized as a monarch and anointed head of the Church of England. The coronation serves as the symbolic religious ceremony formalizing Charles’s new status as king after he legally ascended the throne on September 8, 2022, upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

It also marks the transfer of title and powers and, as a national celebration moment, welcomes the new king.

During the Coronation Ceremony, sacred and secular objects that have been part of a centuries-old tradition were featured in the Coronation service. The Coronation regalia, also known as the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, symbolizes the monarch’s devotion and responsibilities to the country. These objects are imbued with so much history and symbolism.

Here are six of the royal objects and what they symbolize:

St. Edward’s Crown

St. Edward’s Crown is the most important of the British monarchy’s crowns. It’s also the heaviest of the monarchy’s symbols.

The crown weighs nearly five pounds (2.25kg) and is made of solid gold surrounded by amethysts, garnet, rubies, sapphires, topazes, and other jewels. It has a velvet purple cap that represents the color of royalty and an ermine band. 

St. Edward’s Crown is worn only at the moment of crowning during the coronation.

Sovereign’s Orb

Sovereign’s Orb is a golden sphere surmounted by a cross. It represents the power of the monarch across the Christian world. Moreover, the diamond-encrusted cross symbolizes the Church of England and the divine right of the monarch to rule.

The golden Orb is hollow and weighs 2.9 pounds. It’s studded with various gems, including nine emeralds, 18 rubies, nine sapphires, 365 diamonds, and 375 pearls. 

The Sovereign’s Orb is held in the king’s right hand and placed on the altar as the Archbishop of Canterbury crowns the king.

The Sovereign’s Scepters

There are two Sovereign’s Scepters that are used at Coronation. 

First is the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross, representing the king’s temporal power. It’s a gold rod tipped with Cullinan I, a 530.2-carat diamond, the largest colorless diamond in the world. An enormous heart-shaped enclosure holds the Cullinan I.

Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross

Moreover, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross was made for the Coronation of Charles II in 1661.

The second is the Sovereign’s Scepter with Dove, also known as “the Rod of Equity and Mercy. This scepter represents the spiritual role of the monarch. It’s topped with an enamel dove that symbolizes the Holy Spirit.

Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove

During the coronation ceremony, the Bishop of Canterbury hands the scepter to the new monarch and says: “Receive the rod of Equity and Mercy. Be so merciful that you be not too remiss; so execute justice that you forget not mercy. Punish the wicked, protect and cherish the just, and lead your people in the way wherein they should go.”

Coronation Spoon

The Coronation Spoon is the oldest and rarest regalia, believed to have originally been made for Henry II or Richard I. This two-chambered gold spoon holds the holy oil used to anoint the new monarch. 

It is about 10.5 inches long and decorated with pearls and intricate engravings. The bowl is divided in half, with a monster’s head joining the handle. 

A fun fact about the Coronation Spoon is that it survived being melted down after the 17th-century civil war when it was purchased for 16 shillings by a servant of Charles I.

Coronation Chair

The Coronation Chair was used to enclose the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, symbolizing the Scottish monarchy and sovereignty. It’s been used when the new monarch is crowned since the 13th century.

The chair is a high-backed chair that is 6 feet 9 inches long and is made of oak.

Imperial Robe and other garments

During the anointing of the coronation ceremony, the King wears the Colobium sindonis, a monk-like white garment that embodies humility.

He also wear the Robe Royal or Supertunica (a golden coat), Stole Royal (vestment-like scarf), and the Imperial Mantle (a golden cape). Finally, the King put on the Robe of Estate, a long purple mantle of velvet and purple representing his power and royalty.

What are your thoughts about this? Do you know other fun facts about the coronation regalia? Please comment below with your answers.

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