This month we’re celebrating the Coronation of a new monarch, so we thought we’d dive back in time and take a look at the history of coronations. We suspect the new king’s might be slightly different to that of the two previous King Charles!

There have been 39 coronations in Westminster Abbey since 1066 and is basically an ancient ceremony of crowing a new monarch. Much of the ceremony has remained unchanged for thousands of years, including the use of the Crown Jewels. These are the same ones that are kept on display in the Tower of London and are presented to the monarch during the ceremony. Afterwards, they are returned to the Tower under armed guard and go back on display.

Though the ceremony itself will be similar, the coronations have seen a few changes over the years. Even Oliver Cromwell had a coronation of sorts! The service was originated by St Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury and was created for the coronation of Edgar, one of the early Saxon kings and the first person to rule the whole of England. His coronation took place at Bath Abbey, rather than Westminster, where the majority of them have taken place.

While Edgar’s was the first coronation ever, the first one to take place at Westminster was that of William the Conqueror, which took place on Christmas Day 1066. Before that, there was no designated place to mark a new monarch, however William I’s choice to hold it at Westminster influenced future monarchs, including Henry III who undertook a project to rebuild part of the Abbey. The first king to be crowned in the present Abbey was Edward I, which happened in 1274.

Not all monarchs have had a coronation either. Edward V, who was presumed murdered in the Tower of London by his uncle who went on to become Richard III, was imprisoned before he could have his coronation and another Edward, Edward VIII abdicated before his. Lady Jane Grey, though named heir and declared queen also never had an official coronation ceremony before being overthrown by her cousin and beheaded.

William II and Mary II were the only monarchs to be crowned jointly in the same ceremony. The chair used was made specially for Mary and is now on display. In the following years, they became much more of a spectacle, George IV in particular threw a rather grand event, even if he did refuse to allow his wife to attend. Queens Victoria and Elizabeth II also had large ceremonies, with Elizabeth II’s being the first to be televised – it was watched by millions of people, even back in 1953 when televisions were not as popular as they are now!

We’ve been told that Charles III won’t have quite as lavish a ceremony as his mother, though we doubt it will be quite as lowkey as William IV’s. He was so against the idea that he had to be forced into taking part and spent so little money on the event that it became known as the Penny Coronation. We do know however that he will use the coronation chair, which was built for Edward I and is one of the most valuable artefacts to have survived the Middle Ages. Back then it included a sandstone block that was seized from the Scottish and was an important symbol of sovereignty – the Stone of Scone had been used to crown Scottish monarchs for generations. Queen Elizabeth II did have it at her coronation, but the stone was returned to Scotland in the 1990s and is now at Edinburgh Castle.

Charles III will be joining a long list monarchs who have undergone the same ceremony. To impress your friends, here is a list of every coronation of English or British monarchs since 1066.

Harold Goodwinson | 6th January 1066 | Westminster Abbey
William I | 25th December 1066 | Westminster Abbey
William II | 26th September 1087 | Westminster Abbey
Henry I | 5th Sunday 1100 | Westminster Abbey
Stephen | 26th December 1135 | Westminster Abbey
Henry II | 19th December 1154 | Westminster Abbey
Henry the Young King | 27th August 1172 | Winchester Cathedral
Richard I | 3rd September 1189 | Westminster Abbey
John | 27th May 1199 | Westminster Abbey
Henry III | 28th October 1200 | Gloucester Cathedral (second coronation took place 17th May 1220, Westminster Abbey)
Edward I | 19th August 1274 | Westminster Abbey
Edward II | 25th February 1308 | Westminster Abbey
Edward III | 1st February 1327 | Westminster Abbey
Richard II | 16th July 1377 | Westminster Abbey
Henry IV | 13th October 1399 | Westminster Abbey
Henry V | 9th April 1413 | Westminster Abbey
Henry VI | 6th November 1429 | Westminster Abbey (second coronation took place a16th December 1431 at Notre Dame, Paris.)
Edward IV | 28th June 1461 | Westminster Abbey
Richard III | 6th July 1483 | Westminster Abbey
Henry VII | 30th October 1485 | Westminster Abbey
Henry VIII | 24th June 1533 | Westminster Abbey
Edward VI | 20th February 1547 | Westminster Abbey
Mary I | 1st October 1553 | Westminster Abbey
Elizabeth I | 15th January 1559 | Westminster Abbey
James I/VI | 25th July 1603 | Westminster Abbey
Charles I | 2nd February 1625 | Westminster Abbey
Charles II | 23rd April 1661 | Westminster Abbey
James II/VII | 23rd April 1685 | Westminster Abbey
William III and Mary II | 11th April 1689 | Westminster Abbey
Anne | 23rd April 1702 | Westminster Abbey
George I | 20th October 1714 | Westminster Abbey
George II | 11th October 1727 | Westminster Abbey
George III | 22nd September 1761 | Westminster Abbey
George IV | 19th July 1821 | Westminster Abbey
William IV | 8th September 1831 | Westminster Abbey
Victoria | 28th June 1838 | Westminster Abbey
Edward VII | 22nd January 1901 | Westminster Abbey
George V | 22nd June 1911 | Westminster Abbey
George VI | 12th May 1937 | Westminster Abbey
Elizabeth II | 2nd June 1953 | Westminster Abbey
Charles III | 6th May 2023 | Westminster Abbey




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