Ancient Coronation Traditions & Etiquette

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Previous page: Ancient Coronation Traditions & Etiquette - Intro

Although some of the ancient services and duties as appertained to the Banquet are no longer performed, and, in fact, have been specifically excluded from performance by the terms of recent Coronation Proclamations, there still remain many of great antiquity which belong to the Procession and the Ceremony within the Abbey and which have in recent Coronations been regularly performed.

These are performed in virtue of office, or of special appointment, by hereditary right, by "right of custom," or by right of land tenure by grand serjeantry, the right always issuing in the first place from the Sovereign and as with all things done during the Coronation Ceremonies, being subject to the Sovereign's pleasure.

It is the right of the Archbishop of Canterbury to anoint and crown the King. His right rests on ancient usage: it appears so to have existed as early as the eleventh century, and in the following century it was expressly laid down that only the Archbishop of Canterbury, or his appointed deputy, had that right.

The Primate of All England further conducts the entire Coronation service, making the Presentation to the people, administering the Oath, delivering the Royal Ornaments and Regalia, and assisting, as with nearly all the ceremonies, at the Inthronization. By ancient custom he claims as fee for his services the purple velvet chair appointed to his use in the Abbey.

Throughout the Coronation service and Ceremonies the Archbishop of Canterbury is assisted by the Dean of Westminster. The services of the Dean, and of his Chapter, also rest on ancient usage. It is claimed that the Dean and Chapter of Westminster have always served at the Coronations of English Kings, and that, in particular, they possess the right to instruct the King in the forms, rites, and ceremonies before and during the Solemnity.

It is the Dean who receives the Ornaments and Regalia from the Archbishop (who has received them from the ceremonial bearers thereof) and lays them upon the Altar at the beginning of the ceremonies, whence he delivers them to the appropriate persons at the proper moments.

The Dean also invests his Majesty with the Colobium Sindonis, the Supertunica, and with the other royal accoutrements, such as the Sword-belt and the Armill, and he assists the Archbishop at the Unction, pouring the sacred oil from the Ampulla into the spoon from which the Archbishop anoints the King.

For their fee and perquisite for their services it has been claimed that the Dean and Chapter of Westminster are entitled, with other items, to the royal robes and the ray cloth inside the church.

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