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A Coronation Ceremony Steeped in History and Symbolism

At …&repeat we are in our element preparing for King Charles III Coronation. We expect a spectacular parade of all that is quintessentially British, from golden royal state coaches to Horse Guards. Whether you are a royalist or not, most will feel proudly patriotic. Our state events are an important celebration of British culture.

A coronation also is a significant religious event. Charles will be anointed both the Head of State and High Governor of the Church of England, in a ceremony loaded with ancient symbolism. Through the rituals the King becomes persona mixta: a “mixed person” who is both lay and ordained.

Here is our guide to some of the most ancient and interesting history behind the Coronation Regalia, which is used during the crowning ceremony.

The Anointing Spoon

The King will be consecrated with the oil of chrism, which is a reference to the anointing of the kings of Israel. The Anointing Spoon is the only part of the coronation regalia that predates the English Civil War, when the rest of the regalia was melted or broken down. It is considered a relic of St Edward. The Archbishop of Canterbury will use holy oil from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to mark a cross on the King’s hands, chest and forehead.

St Edmunds Crown

St Edmund's crown is one of the world’s most iconic symbols of royalty. The first reference of a crown being used in England was for the coronation of King Eadwig in 956. The use of a crown is said to represent the crown of thorns worn by Jesus.

The first version of this crown was created in 1220 for the Coronation of Henry III. The original crown was a holy relic and stored at Westminster Abbey, but like most of the other Royal Regalia, it was sold or melted during the English Civil War. This version of the crown was made in 1661 for Charles II and closely resembles the original.

We have used a stylised image of St Edmunds Crown for our lovely range of Coronation gifts and homeware.

The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Rod of Equity and Mercy

Also recreated in 1661, the Rod and Sceptre are used to invest the King prior to the crowning. They represent the rod and staff mentioned in Pslam 23, which portrays God as a shepherd and draws a parallel between a shepherd caring for his sheep and God caring for his people: “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The rod is a symbol of the Lord’s strength and protection. The staff is a symbol of guidance and lovingkindness.

The Orb

The orb represents the Sovereign’s power and symbolises the Christian world. Jewelled bands divide it into three sections, representing the three continents that were known in medieval times. Traditionally, the Orb is placed in the right hand of the monarch.  It is then placed on the altar before the moment of crowning and then carried by the Sovereign, on departing from the shrine of St Edward.

The Spurs

The spurs which will be worn by the king were made in 1661 for Charles II and altered in 1820 for George IV. Gold spurs were first included among the English coronation ornaments in 1189, at the coronation of Richard I (the Lionheart). They don’t have a religious connotation but symbolise knighthood. Traditionally, the spurs were fastened to the Sovereign’s feet, but, since the Restoration, they have simply been held to the ankles of kings, or in the case of queens regnant, presented and then placed on the altar. They are an echo also of Roman Imperial inaugurations, where footwear had a considerable significance. After the investiture with the spurs, the sovereign is crowned.