Ahead of the coronation of King Charles III, here’s five unusual facts about coronations of bygone eras…
1. Queen Mary I did not use the Coronation Chair during her coronation on 1st October, 1553. An ardent Catholic, the Queen apparently believed the ancient seat had been tainted by her half-brother Edward VI’s Protestantism and so was crowned in a different chair. The chair is said to have been sent to her by the Pope but what became of it remains something of a mystery. The Queen also had a new, special supply of coronation oil for the anointing part of the ceremony made and sent to her by the Bishop of Arras for the same reason – that Edward had “polluted” the previous oil.
2. So many things went wrong at Queen Victoria’s coronation that a group of historians was established to examine the history of coronations and create a more structured ceremony. The mishaps during the five hour ceremony included the Queen having the Coronation Ring painfully forced into the wrong finger, the Bishop of Bath and Wells prematurely announcing that the ceremony had ended, and the elderly Lord John Rolle falling down a flight of steps when making his homage to the Queen (the Queen then graciously went down to him rather than have him attempt the steps again).
3. Two (or possibly three) English monarchs never had coronations. They include King Edward V – one of the “Princes in the Tower” who became king following the death of his father, Edward IV, on 9th April, 1483, but who then disappeared with his brother Richard after last being seen in the Tower of London (King Richard III was subsequently crowned King instead). They also include King Edward VIII who, having became king on 20th January, 1936, abdicated in December that year before his coronation was held (King George VI was subsequently crowned on the date set for Edward’s coronation – 12th May, 1937). And, depending on whether you accept her monarchy, Lady Jane Grey, who reigned for only nine days before she was executed.
4. King Edward VII’s coronation had to be delayed because of an emergency appendectomy operation. The ceremony, which had originally been scheduled for 26th June, 1902, took place some weeks later than planned on 9th August – and was then marred when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Frederick Temple, placed the crown back-to-front on the King’s head.
5. King George IV refused to let his wife Queen Caroline attend his coronation. Such was the acrimonious nature of their relationship that, having already been informed she was not welcome at the event, Caroline found the doors to Westminster Abbey barred to her when she attempted to enter as he was being crowned on 19th July, 1821. After repeated attempts to enter, she was eventuallys forced to leave without having gained entry.