King Charles III & the Coronation
As heir to the throne, Charles became King immediately after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II. In following British tradition, King Charles III will be crowned at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6 May 2023 . With Britain in the midst of a cost of living crisis, it has been reported that Charles’ coronation will be less opulent to reflect “the spirit of the times.” However, the ceremony will retain the same core religious elements as others before it.
The Royal website states:
"The coronation ceremony is an occasion for pageantry and celebration, but it is also a solemn religious ceremony and has remained essentially the same over a thousand years. For the last 900 years, the ceremony has taken place at Westminster Abbey, London. The service is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose task this has almost always been since the Norman Conquest in 1066."
The Imperial State Crown
King Charles III will be crowned with St Edward’s Crown, the same as his mother, Buckingham Palace has revealed. In December 2022, the “historic centrepiece of the Crown Jewels has been removed from the Tower of London to allow for modification work to begin ahead of the Coronation”.
St Edward's Crown, used to crown English monarchs, was considered to be a holy relic, kept in the saint's shrine at Westminster Abbey and therefore not worn by monarchs at any other time. Instead, a "great crown" with crosses and fleurs-de-lis, but without arches (an open crown), was a king's usual headgear at state occasions until the time of Henry V, who is depicted wearing an imperial crown of state with gold arches (a closed crown). Arches were a symbol of sovereignty, and by this point in history, the king of England was being celebrated as rex in regno suo est imperator – an emperor of his own domain – owing obedience to no one but God, unlike some continental rulers, who owed fealty to more powerful kings, or to the Holy Roman Emperor.
Henry VII or his son and successor Henry VIII may have commissioned a more elaborate version of the state crown which is first described in detail in an inventory of royal jewels in 1521, and again in 1532, 1550, 1574, and 1597, and was included in a painting by Daniel Mytens of Charles I in 1631. The Tudor Crown had more pearls and jewels than its medieval predecessor, and the centre petals of each of the fleurs-de-lis had images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and St George. The crown weighed 3.3 kg (7 lb 6 oz) and was set with 168 pearls, 58 rubies, 28 diamonds, 19 sapphires, and 2 emeralds. Following the abolition of the monarchy and the execution of Charles I in 1649, the Tudor Crown was broken up by order of Oliver Cromwell during the Interregnum, and its valuable components were sold for £1,100.
Upon the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, a new state crown was made for Charles II by Sir Robert Vyner. About 10 versions of the crown have existed since the Restoration. The one made for Queen Victoria in 1838 is the basis for today's crown. Made by Rundell and Bridge in 1838 using old and new jewels, it had a crimson velvet cap with ermine border and a lining of white silk. It weighed 39.25 troy ounces (43.06 oz; 1,221 g) and was decorated with 1,363 brilliant-cut, 1,273 rose-cut and 147 table-cut diamonds, 277 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 4 rubies, and the Black Prince's Ruby (a spinel).
At the State Opening of Parliament in 1845, the Duke of Argyll was carrying the crown before Queen Victoria when it fell off the cushion and broke. Victoria wrote in her diary, "it was all crushed and squashed like a pudding that had sat down". The empty frame of Victoria's imperial state crown survives in the Royal Collection.
A new crown was made for the coronation of George VI in 1937 by Garrard & Co. The crown was adjusted for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953, with the head size reduced and the arches lowered by 25 mm (1 inch) to give it a more feminine appearance. It is expected that the crown will be remade for the coronation of Charles III in May 2023, with the arches being raised to their original height and the head size being adjusted.
The Imperial State Crown is 31.5 cm (12.4 in) tall and weighs 1.06 kg (2.3 lb), and has four fleurs-de-lis and four crosses pattée, supporting two arches topped by a monde and cross pattée. Its purple velvet cap is trimmed with ermine. The frame is made of gold, silver and platinum, and decorated with 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies. Notable stones are St Edward's Sapphire (a beautiful cornflower blue sapphire from Sri Lanka) on the top cross, reputedly taken from the ring of Edward the Confessor when he was re-interred at Westminster Abbey in 1163, and the Black Prince's Ruby (a large spinel, believed to be from Sri Lanka) on the front cross. In 1909, the 104-carat (21 g) Stuart Sapphire, another magnificent blue sapphire from Sri Lanka) set in the front of the crown, was moved to the back and replaced by the 317-carat (63 g) Cullinan II. Below the monde hang four pearls, three of which are often said to have belonged to Queen Elizabeth I.
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