Steeped in history, pageantry and tradition, all eyes will be on the British monarchy as Charles III is crowned King on 6th May 2023.
The last time a British coronation took place was 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in a lavish ceremony that captivated the nation. Now, after almost 70 years, the long-awaited coronation of King Charles III promises to be an equally memorable event. With preparations well underway, anticipation is building for the grand spectacle that will see the new monarch crowned and anointed with the ancient regalia of the Crown Jewels.
The history and symbolism of royal jewellery — especially those only reserved for a coronation — are fascinating. Let’s explore the significant pieces that will be seen on the day as well as a selection of Tateossian’s Crown Jewels that are appropriate for such an occasion.
King Charles III's coronation jewellery and regalia
Charles was only 4 years old when his mother, Queen Elizabeth, was crowned. Her coronation was the first ever to be televised. However, Charles seems to be choosing a different direction. It is speculated that this ceremony will be a more understated event. Buckingham Palace, in their statement about the occasion, said, “the Coronation will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in long-standing traditions and pageantry.”
The exact details of what His Majesty will wear will only be revealed on the day, we can look back at history to predict the future. Here are a few gems, jewels and pieces that the new King is expected to adorn:
St Edward’s Crown
The St Edward's Crown is one of the most significant and valuable items in the British Crown Jewels. It is the crown used for the coronation of a British monarch and is named after Saint Edward the Confessor, who was known for his religious piety and devotion to the arts. The crown was first made in 1661 for the coronation of King Charles II and has been used in every coronation since, with the exception of that of Queen Victoria, who opted to use a smaller crown.
The St Edward's Crown is a solid gold crown that weighs 2.23 kg or 4.9lb and features four crosses pattée and four Fleur-de-lys. The crown is decorated with 444 precious stones, including the Black Prince's Ruby. The stones were taken from other royal pieces, and the crown is adorned with 345 rose-cut diamonds, 37 brilliant-cut diamonds, 27 emeralds, 23 sapphires, and four rubies.
During the coronation ceremony, this Crown is carried in procession to Westminster Abbey ahead of the monarch's arrival. It’s then placed on the altar during the service and later used to crown the monarch. After the ceremony, the crown is returned to the Tower of London.
Imperial State Crown
The second of the two crowns to be worn, the Imperial state crown is an equally awe-inspiring piece of regalia that holds significant historical and symbolic importance. It was made in 1937 for the coronation of King George VI, and it has since been worn by Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation in 1953 and at subsequent State Openings of Parliament. The crown is set with 2868 diamonds, 11 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 4 rubies, and many other precious stones, including amethysts and pearls. At the front of the crown, there is a large sapphire, known as the Stuart Sapphire, which is estimated to be over 300 years old.
The crown contains a number of historical and religious relics, including fragments of the True Cross and the ampulla, a container of holy oil used to anoint the monarch during the coronation ceremony. The crown also includes a range of symbolic objects, such as the globe and cross, which represent the monarch's role as the head of the Church of England and the ruler of the British Empire.
Another important piece of coronation jewellery is the Coronation Ring, which is traditionally worn on the right hand of the monarch during the coronation ceremony. The ring symbolises the King or Queen's "marriage" to the nation and represents their commitment to upholding the laws and principles of the realm. The ring is typically made of gold and set with a large gemstone, often a sapphire or ruby, surrounded by smaller diamonds.
The current Coronation Ring was made for Queen Victoria's coronation in 1838 and has been used in every coronation since. The ring features a large cushion-shaped sapphire as the principal stone, surrounded by 14 smaller diamonds, all set in gold.
During the coronation, the new King will be anointed with holy oil, robed, and then adorned with numerous ornaments, two of which being sceptres: The Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross and the Sovereign's Sceptre with Dove. Incredibly symbolic in their role, the use of these sceptres dates back to the Middle Ages and they are considered to be among the most important pieces of the Crown Jewels.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will present the King with the sceptres. Charles will hold the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross in his right hand throughout the service. In his left hand, he will hold the Sovereign’s Orb. Together, these objects represent the dual role of the monarch as both head of state and head of the Church of England.
Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross
The Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross is one of the oldest and most important pieces of British royal regalia. It is a symbol of the monarch's authority and is present at every coronation ceremony.
The sceptre is made of gold and is embellished with numerous precious stones, including diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. At the top of the sceptre is a large cross set with a Cullinan I diamond, also known as the Great Star of Africa, which is the largest clear-cut diamond in the world. The sceptre is also fitted with a small sphere, known as the monde. It’s believed that the sceptre was originally used as a symbol of the monarch's military power, but over time, its meaning evolved to represent the monarch's role as the leader of the Church of England.
Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove
The Sovereign's Sceptre with Dove is made of gold and measures approximately 92.5 cm in length. It’s topped with a white enamelled dove with wings outstretched, symbolising the Holy Spirit. The dove is decorated with diamonds and pearls, adding to the sceptre's regal splendour.
This piece of regalia is a powerful symbol of the British monarchy's connection to Christianity and the divine right of kings. Its use in the coronation ceremony emphasises the monarch's responsibility to govern with wisdom and compassion, and to act as a protector and defender of the Church.
The Sovereign's Orb was first used in the coronation of Charles II in 1661 and has since been used in every coronation ceremony. The orb is a hollow gold sphere that’s encrusted with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and other precious stones. At the top of the orb is a large amethyst surrounded by a cross of diamonds.
The Armills, also known as the Bracelets of Sincerity and Wisdom, are a set of two 22-carat gold bracelets that represent the king's obligation to rule justly and wisely. They are made of two halves that are joined together during the coronation ceremony by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who blesses them and places them on the monarch's wrists.
The Coronation Necklace is an exquisite piece of jewellery that is worn only once, during the British monarch's coronation. The necklace features 26 rows of pearls, with a diamond clasp in the centre. The pearls were originally owned by Queen Elizabeth I and were later re-strung by Queen Victoria to create the necklace we see today. The Coronation Necklace was last worn by Queen Elizabeth II but is expected to be worn by King Charles III.
The invitation for the coronation was issued by King Charles and Queen Camilla, cementing the title that has been long speculated. Camilla will be crowned in a less elaborate ceremony on the day alongside her husband. This will be the first double coronation since Queen Elizabeth’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother), in 1937.
Camilla is expected to wear two significant pieces of jewellery: Queen Mary's Crown and the Queen Consort Ring. Queen Mary's Crown is an essential piece of the British Crown Jewels, and it was created for Queen Mary, wife of King George V, for her coronation in 1911. The crown is made of platinum and features a base of four crosses pattee and four Fleur-de-lys — which symbolise the United Kingdom's four constituent nations. The crown is also adorned with over 2,200 diamonds, including a diamond that was once owned by Henry VIII. It is not a traditional coronation crown, but it is often worn by queen consorts, including Queen Elizabeth II and the late Princess Diana.
As expected by the name, the Queen Consort ring is worn exclusively by the queen consort. It’s made of Welsh gold and is set with a large square-cut diamond, surrounded by smaller diamonds. It was created in 1905 for the coronation of Queen Mary, and it has been worn by every queen consort since. It’s said to symbolise the queen consort's love and loyalty to her husband, the king.
On 26 May, 20 days after the coronation, the Tower of London will unveil a new display showcasing the crown jewels and royal regalia. While a visit is a historic must, you don’t need to go to find noble inspiration. We’ve collected our own royal aristocratic assortment of jewels appropriate for this significant milestone:
Black Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Diamond Cross Pendant
Baton pin with white diamond pave in sterling silver
White Diamond Titanium Cufflinks & Shirt Studs Set
Button Pave cufflinks with black diamond in sterling silver
Our Tateossian Coronation Collection