HAPPY AND GLORIOUS! CORONATIONS THROUGHOUT THE AGES
Just think of us as your official royal correspondents, with 16 facts to allow you to impart smashing anecdotes at your street party or coronation gathering on 6th May.
1: The first documented coronation at Westminster Abbey was William the Conqueror on Christmas Day, 1066. Before that there was no particular place – wherever was handy, really.
2: William III and Mary II are so far the only joint monarchs to be crowned together, after Mary refused to be the sole ruler following the deposal of her father James II.
3: King Charles III’s coronation will include the crowning of a Queen Consort in a simpler ceremony held later – the first since George VI’s wife Elizabeth in 1937.
4: Spare a thought for the two monarchs who never even managed to get to their coronations. 13-year-old Edward V became king in 1483 but died just months after, likely murdered by King Richard III. Edward VIII famously abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson.
5: Some history inside the Abbey is more recent: in 2018, David Hockney created a window to celebrate The Queen’s reign, a 26-ft high, 11-ft wide colourful spring scene in the Yorkshire countryside – installed in the north transept.
6: Politicos may know that the Westminster Abbey sits across from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament for a reason – symbolising the union of Parliament and the Sovereign in governing the country.
7: A coronation is considered a happy and glorious occasion, hence it takes place a good few months after the death of the prior monarch.
8: Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was held on 2nd June 1953, and was the first in history to be broadcast on television – the first ‘event television’ that helped popularise the new home gadget. An estimated 27 million watched it (out of a 36 million population at the time!).
9: It is said that The Queen held a rehearsal for her coronation at Buckingham Palace using sheets tied together in place of her coronation robes. Ma’am was resourceful, alright!
10: A young Prince Charles was the first Royal heir in history to attend his parent’s coronation. Much to Princess Anne’s frustration, however, she was regarded as too young and made to watch from Buckingham Palace.
11: As a religious ceremony, the anointing is the most deeply sacred part of the service, a tradition dating back to the Old Testament. The pleasingly fragrant oil – made with orange, roses, cinnamon, musk and ambergris – is administered by the Archbishop using a special spoon.
12: Usually on display in the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels will be dusted off and presented to the King during the coronation to represent His Majesty’s powers and duties.
13: Several composers throughout history have written anthems specifically for the coronation, including four by Handel – most famously ‘Zadok the Priest’, first sung at the crowning of King George in 1727.
14: The Coronation Chair was made to last: it is, in fact, the same one from the Middle Ages, first built for King Edward I around 1300.
15: A procession through London normally follows the service, allowing as many well-wishers as possible to see the new monarch. King Charles will likely travel in the Gold State Coach.
16: Coronation Chicken was first invented to cater for an international palate. Constance Spry - the coronation’s florist – conjured up an innovative recipe to serve to the foreign guests, involving cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a dressed salad of rice, green peas and herbs.
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