A royal history of British coronations in pictures

A royal history of British coronations in pictures ahead of King Charles III’s historic ceremony on May 6

  • From King Henry IV to Queen Elizabeth II: history of British coronations in photos

King Charles’ coronation date of Saturday, 6 May is fast approaching, with the landmark event now days away. 

Initially set to be given the title of Queen Consort, Camilla will instead be crowned as Queen in the upcoming coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey. 

After months of speculation, it has been confirmed by Buckingham Palace that Prince Harry will attend the coronation.  

With the coronation just around the corner, MailOnline takes a look at a history of British royal coronations in pictures.

Read on below for more. 

King Charles III will be officially crowned as the UK’s reigning monarch on Saturday, 6 May, 2023, at Westminster Abbey

A night-time rehearsal for the much-anticipated coronation of King Charles takes place in central London (Photo dated Wednesday, 3 May, 2023)

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (2 June, 1953) 

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II sat on the throne for 70 years, which is also the longest verified record in the world for any female monarch. 

Her coronation was notable for featuring a return procession through the streets of London that was 4.5 miles (7.2km) long, with nearly 8,000 guests present at the ceremony itself. 

During the coronation, Charles made history at the age of just four as he became the first ever child to see their mother crowned. 

When Her Late Majesty was crowned on June 2, 1953, the capital’s streets were filled with joyous ordinary Britons, some of whom had slept overnight in the driving rain to catch a glimpse of their young new monarch. 

In a 2018 documentary, the Queen shared an unfolding of events, which did not always run smoothly, not least the bone-jarring ride in a golden coach from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey that she describes as ‘horrible’. 

She also revealed how she was almost brought to a standstill when her heavy ceremonial robes caught on the thick carpets laid in the Abbey. 

Queen Elizabeth II pictured at her coronation, which took place at Westminster Abbey on 2 June, 1953

An aerial view inside Westminster Abbey shows Queen Elizabeth II in the Coronation Chair

A royal postcard commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, who can be seen here in her full royal regalia 

Queen Elizabeth II is shown here on the cover of Picture Post, a photojournalistic magazine which ran from 1938 to 1957

Queen Elizabeth II on the balcony at Buckingham Palace following her coronation. Prince Charles can be seen standing beside her, with Princess Anne stood next to him, alongside the late Duke of Edinburgh (front right)

Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation ceremony. In this photo, Prince Charles disappears from view behind the canopied stand. Aged just four, he became the first child in British history to witness their mother’s coronation

A solemn-looking Prince Charles (centre) rests his hand on his chin in the Royal Box at Westminster Abbey. He is flanked by the Queen Mother (left) and Princess Margaret (right)

Queen Elizabeth II walks through Westminster Abbey during her 1953 coronation, passing the congregation in attendance

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (front left) watch the coronation ceremony on a television at the Paris home of Margaret Biddle (front right), the American millionairess

The Queen’s carriage passes crowds who gathered to catch a glimpse of her on coronation day

Coronation of King George VI (12 May, 1937)

King George VI ascended to the throne on 11 December, 1936, after his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne.  

The event was designed to be not only a sacred anointing and formal crowning, but also a public spectacle, which was also planned as a display of the British Empire.

The month of May 1937 included a programme of royal events, which spanned almost the entirety of the month, so that the occasion could be appropriately commemorated.  

Prior to King George VI’s coronation, guests from across the British Empire and around the world assembled at Buckingham Palace, with official receptions held to welcome them. 

Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Gordon Lang is seen placing St Edward’s Crown on the head of King George VI

Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Gordon Lang is seen leaving after attending the final rehearsal for the Coronation 

Children are seen enjoying celebrations during a Coronation tea party in Eltham, south London, on May 15, 1937

Children are seen enjoying a Coronation tea at a school in Crayford, south London, in May 1937. They were drinking from souvenir mugs they had been given

A blank invitation to the King’s Coronation is seen above. They were sent out to all attendees to the historic service

King George VI is pictured here with Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who was the last royal to use the title of Queen Consort. This title was planned to be used in reference to Camilla, who will now be referred to as Queen instead

George VI is pictured in the Coronation Chair during his ceremony inside Westminster Abbey

King George VI is pictured here inside Westminster Abbey during his coronation ceremony. He was the last Emperor of India and the first Head of the Commonwealth. 

King George VI is photographed here taking the oath during his coronation ceremony

This full length portrait of King George VI is taken from the Coronation Souvenir Book, which was published in 1937

Another photograph shows the Royal Family on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the ceremony, with Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret – then aged six – seen waving to crowds

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth are seen during their Coronation inside Westminster Abbey on May 12, 1937

Princess Elizabeth is welcomed at the Abbey for the historic service, which took place 17 years before her own crowning in the same place

Food and drink souvenirs mark the coronation of King George IV and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother 

A supplement for the Radio Times by artist R W Nevinson shows King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (both crowned) with Westminster Abbey in the background

Coronation of King George V (22 June 1911) 

King George was crowned alongside Queen Mary in Westminster Abbey on 22 June, 1911. 

Westminster Abbey’s official website states: ‘They presented new hangings for the High Altar which are still in use. The frontal is made of cream white damask silk with an embroidered Crucifixion scene in the centre flanked by angels holding shields with the Royal arms and coat of arms of St Edward the Confessor. 

‘The dorsal, for the back of the altar, shows figures of St Edward and the Pilgrim with kneeling images of the king and queen. This was designed by W.R. Lethaby and based on a 15th century example at Chipping Camden church.’

It was also the first-ever coronation to have photography allowed inside Westminster Abbey. 

King George V pictured with his Queen consort, Mary, the King wearing flowing purple coronation robes 

The Bearers of the Canopy cover King George V during the anointing at his coronation

A special illustration of King George V and Queen Mary of Teck (centre), with the future King, Edward VIII, appearing top right

King George V is shown here with officers from Heralds College, a royal corporation consisting of professional officers of arms 

The three robes King George V wore at his coronation ceremony. From top: The Royal Crimson Robe of State, The Golden Imperial Mantle and The Royal Robe of Purple Velvet. 

Coronation of Queen Victoria (28 June, 1838) 

Queen Victoria’s coronation was a lengthy affair, taking  five hours and bighted by a lack of prior planning rehearsal. 

Nobody bar the Queen and Lord John Thynne (Sub-Dean of Westminster acting for the Dean), knew what should be happening. 

The coronation ring was painfully forced on to her wrong finger and Lord Rolle, an elderly peer, fell down the steps while making his homage to the Queen. 

The Abbey’s website says: ‘A confused bishop wrongly told her the ceremony was over and she then had to come back to her seat to finish the service.’

The red footstool used by Queen Victoria during her coronation ceremony can be seen in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. 

In her journal Victoria described the day as ‘the proudest of my life’. 

An engraving shows Queen Victoria in her coronation robes during the ceremony

This photograph shows a full length portrait of Queen Victoria, with the crown at her feet 

A painting of Queen Victoria’s coronation ceremony by artist George Hayter, who specialised in portraits.  

Coronation of King William IV (8 September, 1831)

For the coronation of William IV and Queen Adelaide, the doors of the Abbey opened bright and early, at 4.00am, according to the Abbey’s official page. 

The coronation procession left St James’ Palace, and saw the King dressed in an admiral’s uniform, whilst Queen Adelaide was allegedly sporting a white and gold dress. 

For the first time, a luxuriosuly furnished annexe had been built outside the west front of the Abbey to help bring order to the processions. 

There was no usual coronation banquet as the King decided it was too expensive. 

The official invite to the coronation of William IV and Queen Adelaide featured a classic, simple design

Coronation of King George IV (19 July, 1821) 

George IV’s coronation was one of the most lavish ceremonies of its kind, costing a whopping £230,000. To celebrate the occasion, a new crown featuring 12,000 diamonds was specially made for the King. 

Aged 59 by the time of his coronation ceremony, George was reportedly so flustered beneath his suit, thick velvet coronation robes, a long curled wig and plumed hat, that he had to use 19 handkerchiefs during the ceremony, per Westminster Abbey.  

Meanwhile, outside the Abbey, his estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick, was attempting to force her way in to be crowned consort. 

George IV, raging at her actions, ordered those guarding the entrances to the Abbey to refuse her entry. 

Despite trying every door into the church, Caroline eventually gave up and left. 

This photograph showcases the wonderful arches inside Westminster Abbey, seen here in full splendour during the coronation of King George IV

An engraving depicts scenes inside Westminster Abbey during King George IV’s coronation, with the cathedral packed to the rafters 

Coronation of King Henry IV (13 October, 1399) 

Unusually, Henry IV had two coronation processions, one from Westminster to the Tower of London on the eve of the coronation and another which ran from the Tower back to Westminster on the afternoon of the following day. 

Despite subsequent traditions of a joint coronation, his wife, Joan of Navarre,  was not was crowned until 1403, according to Westminster Abbey. 

This archive of King Henry IV’s coronation is taken from The National And Domestic History Of England by William Aubrey (published circa 1890)

An archive of the above picture in colour can be seen here in black and white 

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