King Charles III Coronation: who was the last King to be coronated?
With King Charles III’s Coronation taking place on May 6, we have taken a look back at previous coronations throughout history and picked out some unique examples.
King Charles III will be coronated on Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Westminster Abbey in London where there are expected to be 2,000 guests in attendance, a stark contrast to the 8,000 guests present at the Queen's coronation in 1953.
The last coronation of a British monarch was Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, which took place on June 2, 1953, again at Westminster Abbey. It was the first to be televised and was watched by over 20 million people in the UK alone. The ceremony was attended by 8,251 guests who represented 129 nations and territories.
The last King to be coronated, however, was King George VI, crowned on May 12, 1937. George VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey in London, in a ceremony that was attended by many dignitaries and members of the royal family.
The coronation of George VI was a significant event in British history, as it marked the beginning of a new era for the monarchy. George VI was seen as a steady and reliable leader who could provide stability in a time of great change and uncertainty. His reign saw the country through the difficult years of World War II, and he was widely admired for his courage and determination during that time.
The coronation ceremony itself was a grand and elaborate affair, steeped in tradition and symbolism. It included a procession through the streets of London, the anointing of the king with holy oil, the presentation of various regalia and symbols of office, and the taking of various oaths and vows.
Though George VI’s coronation was one typical of royal events, each coronation has its own distinct character and significance, reflecting the historical context in which it took place. There have been several unique coronations of kings and queens in the history of the United Kingdom, here are a few examples:
- William the Conqueror (1066)
William I was the first Norman King of England, and his coronation in 1066 was the first to take place in Westminster Abbey, which had just been built by Edward the Confessor. William's coronation also marked the beginning of the Norman era in English history.
- Henry VIII (1509)
The coronation of Henry VIII in 1509 was notable for its lavishness and extravagance. Henry spent a great deal of money on the event, which included a procession through the streets of London, a banquet at Westminster Hall, and a jousting tournament.
- Charles II (1661)
The coronation of Charles II in 1661 was the first coronation to take place after the English Civil War and the Restoration of the monarchy. The ceremony was designed to emphasise the continuity of the monarchy and the restoration of the Church of England as the country's official religion.
- Victoria (1838)
The coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838 was notable for being the first after the Industrial Revolution. The ceremony was held in Westminster Abbey and was attended by thousands of people. It also marked the beginning of a new era of prosperity and expansion for the British Empire.
- James II (1685)
The coronation of James II in 1685 was the last coronation to include the ritual of "touching for the King's Evil," a ceremony in which the king would touch the skin of people with scrofula (a form of tuberculosis) in the belief that it would cure them. This ceremony had been a part of English coronations since the time of Edward the Confessor.
- George IV (1821)
The coronation of George IV in 1821 was the first coronation to include a specially composed anthem by a well-known composer (in this case, the composer was George Frederick Handel). The anthem, "Zadok the Priest," has been performed at every British coronation since then.
- Edward VII (1902)
The coronation of Edward VII in 1902 was the first coronation to be filmed (albeit only a short excerpt of the actual ceremony). The filming was done by the newly formed British film company, Pathé Frères, and marked the beginning of the use of film as a medium for documenting important events.
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