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Ancient Coronation Traditions & Etiquette

Previous page: Part 4 - Ancient Coronation Traditions & Etiquette

At relatively more recent Coronations similar claims to privileges, based on precedent, though not always, as in the case of the Orb, of very long standing, have been made and allowed by grace. The Duke of Richmond, Lennox and Gordon, for example, claimed, in right of his title, to carry the Sceptre with the Dove, and the Duke of Roxburghe similarly claimed to carry Saint Edward's Staff.

There are four ceremonial swords borne in the Procession by important personages appointed so to do and maintained near the King - the Sword of State, the Sword of Spiritual Justice, the Sword of Temporal Justice and Curtana, the broken sword or Sword of Mercy, also known as the Sword of Edward the Confessor. During the Ceremony the Sword of State is exchanged for a fifth sword, the Jewelled State Sword, which is offered by his Majesty at the Altar and redeemed for one hundred shillings. This sword was made for George IV. at a cost of 6000.

It is the ancient duty of the Clerk to the Crown to attend the Coronation Ceremonies and to record the proceedings on the Coronation Roll. It is claimed that his office is of "immemorial antiquity," and that he is entitled, as fee for his services, to five yards of scarlet with which to make a suitable robe.

In 1901 the Lord Mayor of London established his right by custom, dating at least from the reign of Richard III., to attend the Ceremony and to bear the Crystal Mace, which he carries only in the presence of the Sovereign. Formerly the Lord Mayor was privileged also to serve the King with a cup of wine at the Banquet, retaining the cup for his fee, and to walk in the outdoors procession afterwards.

In organising and marshalling the Coronation Ceremonies, the Earl Marshal is assisted by Garter Principal King of Arms and by other Officers of Arms of the College of Arms. Garter is the King's principal herald. Placed in the Procession usually next to the Lord Great Chamberlain, he has the duty of guiding, but not performing the Ceremonies. His duties on this occasion are not unlike those of a Master of Ceremonies.

The entire College of Arms walk in the Procession in virtue of their being his Majesty's "Kings, Heralds and Pursuivants of Arms of England," and the Scottish and Irish Kings, Heralds and Pursuivants of Arms do likewise: but the privilege is accorded to the latter by grace.

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