Following last week’s unusual facts, here’s five more…
• The coronation of King William I (aka William the Conqueror) was marred by riots. The new King had chosen to be crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066, in a display of power (kings had in the past been crowned in Winchester). But when shouts of support for the new king were mistakenly thought to be an assassination attempt, Norman soldiers outside the abbey began setting fire to nearby houses, causing the abbey to fill with smoke and the congregation to flee while outside people rioted. William nonetheless ensured the service was completed.
• Henry, the eldest son of King Henry II, had a coronation service at Westminster Abbey while his father was still monarch – the only instance of this occurring. While crowning the heir during the lifetime of the monarch was a more common practice in France, it was not so in England. But in an effort to settle the succession, King Henry II had Henry crowned on 14th June, 1170. Sadly Henry, known as Henry the Young King, did not live to succeed his father but died at just the age of 28 in 1183 after contracting dysentery while campaigning with his younger brother Richard (later King Richard I) against their father. King Henry II died on 6th July, 1189, and was succeeded by Richard.
• There has only been one coronation in the abbey in which two monarchs were crowned at the same time. After King James II was deposed, William of Orange and his wife Mary were jointly invited to rule in what was known as the Glorious Revolution. They were crowned together at Westminster Abbey on 11th April, 1689. King William III sat in the Coronation Chair while another chair was specifically made for Queen Mary II, and, while the king was crowned using the traditional regalia, a special set of regalia was made for Mary.
• Only two of King Henry VIII’s six wives had coronations. Catherine of Aragon was crowned alongside the King on 24th June, 1509 (she sat on a lower chair). Anne Boleyn, meanwhile, was crowned on 1st June, 1533. Interestingly, she was crowned with St Edward’s Crown which had up until then only been used to crown the monarch. Jane Seymour died before she could be crowned (there had been plague in London at the time she married Henry), while his marriage with Anne of Cleves was annulled before she could be crowned and Catherine Howard was executed before any coronation took place. By the time the king married Catherine Parr, he was ageing and ill and a coronation was unlikely to be high on his agenda.
• King Henry VI is the youngest monarch to have been crowned at Westminster Abbey. He was aged just eight-years-old when he was crowned on 6th November, 1429, having become king at the age of just eight-months-old when his father, King Henry V, died on 31st August, 1422 (other children to have been crowned in the abbey include King Edward VI, who was just nine at his coronation). King Charles III – whose coronation will take place on 6th May – will be the oldest monarch to have been crowned at the abbey.
Correction: We’ve corrected the position of the two Catherines after the names were accidentally transposed.
2 thoughts on “Moments in London’s history – Five (more) unusual facts about royal coronations past…”
Catherine Parr outlived Henry VIII.
Catherine Howard was executed.
Thanks for spotting that – we’ve corrected it.