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 Coronation rituals infographic
Graphic shows coronation rites from around the world.


Coronation rites and rituals

By Duncan Mil

April 28, 2023 - The United Kingdom is the only European nation with a coronation ceremony. Other monarchies around the world feature rituals and ceremonies steeped in ancient tradition.

“Monarchy runs on ritual and ceremony,” Dr Elena Woodacre, a reader in history at the University of Winchester, told the BBC.

“There are elements you tend to see in different coronations,” she explains, “there’s always some kind of installation or enthronement. There’s usually regalia or ritual clothing and the sacred elements like the anointing.”

During the ceremony in Westminster Abbey on May 6, King Charles III will be anointed using holy oil made with a secret recipe -- considered the most sacred part of the ceremony.

King Charles sits on the ancient Coronation Chair for much of the service. The 700-year-old chair contains the Stone of Destiny, a historic symbol used in the inauguration of Scottish kings.

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn poured holy water over himself during his coronation in 2019. His wife, Queen Suthida, crawled and knelt on the floor before him to show respect.

When Japan’s Emperor Naruhito proclaimed his ascension to the throne in 2019, purple curtains unveiled the Emperor standing before a throne with an ancient sword. Naruhito read a formal proclamation, dressed in a yellow-orange robe worn only by emperors on special occasions.

King Charles III will wear the St Edward’s Crown, a 1.06kg crown made of a solid gold frame set with rubies and sapphires, and Charles will wear it for the only time during his reign.

PUBLISHED: 28/04/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images, History of International Relations