LONDON — King Charles III’s coronation is an opportunity to connect people with the history and splendor of the monarchy, but those traditions are also fraught with controversy as he tries to show that the monarchy still have a role in modern Britain.
The new king recognized these challenges by adapting coronations to today’s realities.
This coronation will be shorter and more comprehensive than his mother’s coronation in 1953. Faith leaders from outside the Church of England will take an active role in the ceremony for the first time. And people from all four countries of the UK, as well as the Commonwealth, will participate.
Here are five artifacts that will play a central role in Saturday’s events.
REGISTERED CHAIR AND SCONE STONE
King Charles III will sit atop more than 1,500 years of Irish, Scottish and English history when he is crowned Saturday at Westminster Abbey.
The crown will be worn on Charles’ head as he sits on the Coronation Chair suspended over the Stone of Scone (pronounced “scoon”) – the sacred sandstone on which Scottish kings were crowned. The chair has been a part of every coronation since 1308.
The 2.05 meter (6 feet 9 inches) high chair was made of oak and was originally upholstered in gold leaf and colored glass. The gold has long worn away and the chair now features graffiti, including a message that reads “P. Abbott slept in this chair on July 5-6, 1800.”
Edward I built a special chair to cover the Scone Stone, known to the Scots as the Stone of Destiny, after he forcibly took the artifact from Scotland and delivered it to the monastery at the end of the 13th Century. The history of the stone goes even further. Fergus Mor MacEirc, the founder of the Scottish royal line, is believed to have brought the stone with him when he moved his residence from Ireland to Scotland around 498, Westminster Abbey said. Before that, it was used as the coronation stone for Irish kings.
In 1996, Prime Minister John Major returned the stone to Scotland, on the condition that it would return to England to be used for future coronations. In recent days, the slab has been temporarily removed from its current home at Edinburgh Castle in a ceremony overseen by Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf, and then transported to the monastery, where held a special ceremony to mark its return.
The gilded silver coronation spoon is the only coronation object that survived the English Civil War. After King Charles I was executed in 1649, the rest of the collection was either melted down or sold as Parliament sought to abolish the monarchy for good.
The spoon is the centerpiece of the most sacred part of the coronation, when the Archbishop of Canterbury will pour holy oil from an eagle-shaped tube or jar into the spoon and rub it over the king’s hands, chest and head.
The ceremony is rooted in the Biblical story of King Solomon’s anointing and was originally designed to confirm that this king was directly appointed by God. While the monarch is no longer considered divine, the ceremony confirms his status as supreme governor of the Church of England.
The 26.7 centimeters (10.5 inches) long spoon is believed to have been made in the 12th century for King Henry II or King Richard I, and may have originally been used to mix water and wine, according to the Royal Collection. Trust.
Two stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond – the largest rough diamond ever found – will feature prominently at the coronation, sparking controversy the royal family wants to avoid.
To many in South Africa, where the original stone was found in 1905, the gems are a symbol of colonial oppression under British rule and they should be returned.
Cullinan I, a colossal teardrop-shaped stone weighing 530.2 carats, mounted on the Sovereign’s Scepter with the Cross. On Saturday, the scepter will be given to Charles as a symbol of his temporary power.
Cullinan II, a 317.4-carat cushion-shaped gemstone, is mounted on the front of the Royal Crown that Charles will wear upon leaving Westminster Abbey.
Charles ignored a similar controversy when Buckingham Palace announced that his wife, Camilla, would not wear the tiara of Queen Elizabeth, the queen’s mother, on coronation day.
That tiara contains the famous Koh-i-noor diamond that India, Pakistan and Iran all claim. The gem became part of the Emerald Crown after 11-year-old Maharaja Duleep Singh was forced to surrender it following the conquest of Punjab in 1849.
ST. EDWARD’s crown
The coronation moment of the coronation will take place, quite literally, when the Archbishop of Canterbury places the Crown of St. Edward on Charles’ head.
Due to its importance as the centerpiece of the coronation, it will be the only time in his reign that the monarch will wear a crown of solid gold, with a purple velvet cap, a mink band and other crowns. The cross-shaped dome on the top has the shape of a cross.
After the ceremony, Charles will exchange the 2.08 kg (4.6 pounds) tiara for the Royal Crown of State, which weighs about half, for the procession back to Buckingham Palace.
Queen Elizabeth II once said that even the lighter tiara was complicated because it would fall off if she didn’t keep her head straight as she delivered her annual speech at the opening of the State Parliament.
“There are some downsides to the crown, but otherwise they’re pretty important,” the late queen told Sky News in 2018, with a smile.
The current St Edward’s tiara was made for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661 and has been used in every coronation since. It is a replica of the original crown, created in the 11th century and melted down after the execution of Charles I in 1649.
The tiara sparkles with stones including tourmalines, white and yellow topaz, rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnets, peridot, zircon, spinel and aquamarines.
Until the early 20th century, the crown was decorated with hired stones returned after coronation, according to the Royal Collection Trust. It was permanently set with semi-precious stones before the coronation of George V in 1911.
GOLDEN TRAINING BANG
King Charles III and Queen Camilla will return to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey on the Gold State Coach, a 261-year-old monument known for its uncomfortable rides as well as lavish decor.
The trainer was built in 1762 during the reign of King George III and it has been used in every coronation since 1831.
It is made of wood and gilded with leaves, from the angels on the roof to the Greek sea gods on each wheel. About the only things that aren’t gilded are the side panels painted with Roman gods and goddesses and of course the interior, upholstered in satin and velvet.
But the carriage was heavy – four tons – and old, which meant it was only traveling at walking speed.
And while it looks luxurious, this coach has a reputation for being a bumpy ride because it’s suspended by leather straps instead of modern metal springs.
The late queen was not a fan.
“It sucks! It’s absolutely not for travelling,” she said in 2018 in an interview with Sky News.
That’s one reason Charles and Camilla will travel to the coronation ceremony in a Diamond Jubilee State Coach, equipped with hydraulic shock absorbers, as well as heating and air conditioning.