The coronation of the British monarch, a unique and grandiose ceremony

The coronation of the British monarch, a unique and grandiose ceremony

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The coronation of the British sovereign is a grandiose ceremony, unique in Europe, whose rules sometimes date back several centuries. The coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 required more than a year of preparation. 

The monarch's coronation does not take place immediately after the death of her predecessor, in order to respect a period of mourning and allow the organization of the ceremony.

Elizabeth II, who became queen on February 6, 1952, the day of her father's death, was crowned on June 2, 1953, fifteen months later in front of over 8,000 guests at Westminster Abbey.

The 73-year-old new king is expected to prefer 'a quicker, smaller coronation' according to British monarchy expert Bob Morris.

The ceremony takes place at Westminster Abbey. It is led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the first religious figure in the Anglican Church and its second head after the British monarch.

The Archbishop of Canterbury first introduces the new sovereign to the audience , who acclaimed him.

The sovereign then takes the coronation oath (Coronation Oath Act), written in 1688: he solemnly undertakes to govern his people according to the laws passed by Parliament, to enforce law and justice “with clemency”, and to ” do everything possible” to preserve the Anglican Church and the Protestant religion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury then performs the anointing with consecrated oil and blesses the sovereign seated in King Edward's chair, throne made in 1300 and used at every coronation since 1626.

The sovereign finally receives his royal attributes, in particular a scepter, then the crown, placed on his head by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Members of the royal family pay homage to her and communion is celebrated.

Unless otherwise decided, if the new sovereign is a man, his wife is proclaimed queen and crowned, following a similar, but simplified ceremony.

In the case of Charles' coronation, his wife Camilla might not become queen, but only “princess consort”, not being the king's first wife.

In the event a queen accedes to the Throne , her husband does not become king and does not receive the sacred anointing.

The United Kingdom is the only monarchy in Europe that continues to use regalia (royal costumes and attributes such as the specter or certain swords) during coronation ceremonies.

St Edward's Crown, made in 1661 for the coronation of Charles II, is the crown traditionally used during the ceremony. Made of gold, silver, rubies and sapphires in particular, it weighs more than two kilos.

The imperial crown is worn at the end of the ceremony and for the royal procession. Composed of 2868 diamonds, it was made in 1937 for the coronation of King George VI. It is also worn by the monarch during the annual opening session of parliament.

In 1953, 8251 guests, representing 181 countries and territories attended the coronation of Elizabeth II.

< p>Among them, many representatives of foreign monarchies had made the trip, but no European sovereign, thus respecting a royal tradition.

After the ceremony, a long procession took place through the streets of London. Although Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace are less than a mile apart, the route of the procession was 7.2 kilometers long in 1953, to allow as many people as possible to attend. .