Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton, 1953
In September 2022, the world watched the pageantry of Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral. For the first time, the coverage included the committal ceremony, during which the emblems of royalty were taken from her coffin and placed on the altar. This ritual symbolizes the ongoing nature of the monarchy, with the crown passing from one individual to the next. Eight months after his mother’s funeral, the coronation of King Charles III and his wife, Camilla, will be celebrated in May.
From coronation to committal, ceremonies shape the monarchy. The coronation incorporates activities that date back to the 11th century and a chair that was created in 1308. The committal is about returning the crown jewels and includes the symbolic breaking of the wand of office, signifying the end of the monarch’s reign. Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger explores the history and significance of these traditions. She examines the use of Westminster Abbey as the place for coronations since 1066, the combination of church and public service that marks the royal commitment, and the protocols and traditions that continue the monarchy from one individual to the next.
Lloyd-Stanger also looks toward the coronation of Charles and Camilla, the first such ceremony in 70 years. She analyzes the essential parts of the coronation and what they mean in a time of constitutional monarchy and limited influence for the royals. Finally, Lloyd-Stanger discusses why these ceremonies are important today and highlights memorable moments from previous ceremonies.
Lloyd-Stanger is the former manager of visitor education at the Folger Shakespeare Library.