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Coronation Rituals From UK Compared To Other Countries Around The World

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King Charles III will be crowned on May 6, his coronation will be a world event and will be conducted as per traditional ceremony. This also brings our attention to other monarchies globally which crown their kings and queens in exceptional ceremonies. 

A reader of Renaissance history at the University of Winchester, Dr. Elena Woodacre said, “Monarchy runs on ritual and ceremony.” “There are elements you tend to see in different coronations. There’s always some kind of installation or enthronement. There’s usually regalia or ritual clothing and the sacred elements like the anointing. These elements are important both for reaffirming the sovereign’s role but also reaffirming the relationship between the monarch and the subject”, she explains. 

Blessed water

King Charles’ head, chest, and hands will be anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, using holy oil concocted by a hidden recipe, which is the most solemn part of the crowning ceremony, asserting the spiritual status of the monarch who is also designated as the Head of the Church of England.

With the same sacredness attached to the crowning ceremony in Thailand, the ritual involves the tradition of pouring water over the monarch to “purify” and anoint them.

Thailand coronation ceremony uses holy oil
Thailand coronation ceremony uses holy oil.

The water is procured from over 100 different sources throughout the country between 11:52 and 12:38 local time (3:52 and 4:38 MUT), which is considered an exceptional time according to Thai astrology, and then blessed through Buddhist ceremonies.

Sacred Chair

During most part of the crowning ceremony, King Charles will sit on the oak-made 700-year-old Coronation Chair. This seat is the oldest piece of furniture that is used for its original purpose.

The chair is made in a way that it holds the Stone of Destiny, a historic symbol that was used with the coming of Scottish kings.

The Asante region of Ghana, Africa, has been under the rule of the Asantehene since the end of 1600s. The Golden Stool, also known as the Sika Dwa Kofi, is the most sacred piece in its culture and is considered to contain the “soul” of the Ashanti people. Even the monarch is not allowed to sit on the stool, such that the new Asantehene monarch is lifted and lowered just above the stool without having to sit on it. 

Ghana's Asante's Golden Stool
Ghana’s Asante’s Golden Stool.

In the 1900s, Sir Frederick Hodgson, the British Governor of the Gold Coast, desired to sit on the Golden Stool and instructed his troops to find it. This resulted in a revolt headed by Yaa Asantewaa, the Asante Queen Mother. She failed and Asante fell under British rule. Their monarchy was reclaimed in 1935.

Canopies, curtains, and cloth

The anointing of the British monarch is considered highly confidential and sacred, such that a canopy will be held over King Charles so that his anointment is not seen by others. 

The congregation will yell, “God Save the King!”

This is like the coronation ceremony in the Japanese monarchy. Purple curtains are drawn behind the canopy-like structure known as the Takamikura, during the ceremony, to reveal the emperor standing in front of the throne, with an ancient sword and jewel placed on his side.

Japanese Coronation Ceremony uses purple curtains
Japanese Coronation Ceremony uses purple curtains.

The emperor wears a yellow-orange robe, which is only worn by the emperor on certain occasions and ceremonies, and reads aloud a formal promulgation. This is when they shout “Banzai!”, meaning “Long live the emperor”.

Feathers and lion hides

The UK monarch is meant to wear certain robes for the coronation ceremony. When the to–be–ruler enters Westminster Abbey, they must wear a long red velvet robe of state with hand-embroidered gold lace outlined with an expensive white fur called ermine.

By the end, they wear a different robe. Queen Elizabeth II, during her coronation in 1953, wore a seven-meter-long silk gown which took 3,500 hours to be embroidered with the emblems of the UK and Commonwealth in 18 different types of gold and silver threads.

Among the eight most influential South African monarchs, the Zulu King also adorned an item of certain clothing for their coronation.

The sovereign walks into a sacred cattle yard calling out to their ancestors for support and wears the hide of a lion hunted by them to justify that they are the chosen one, according to the traditional Zulu ceremony.

King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini
King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini.

King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini adorned clothing with leopard print and feathers while receiving the certificate of recognition from the South African President, during his coronation in 2022.

Calfskin crowns

In any coronation ceremony, crowns are considered an essential and visible symbol that designate the monarch as the ruler. 

At the coronation of King Charles III, he will be wearing the St Edward’s Crown which is made up of a solid gold frame set and loaded with rubies and sapphires.  The ceremony would be the only time during his reign that he will use this crown. 

As the coronation ceremony draws to a close, King Charles will wear the Imperial State Crown (1.06kg), which is only used for special ceremonies such as the opening of Parliament.

A calfskin headband and feather are placed on the head of the new monarch by two traditional chiefs in the coronation ceremony in Lesotho.

Letsie III, King of Lesotho
Letsie III, King of Lesotho

At the ceremony, the monarch is supposed to wear a traditional animal skin and a blue tunic with a crocodile embroidered in gold, while singing and dancing.

Letsie III was crowned at a sports stadium in the capital city of Maseru. The coronation ceremony was attended by King Charles and the then President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

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