A coronation is a ceremony marking the investiture of a monarch with regal power, specifically involving the placement of a crown upon his or her head, and the presentation of other items of regalia. This rite may also include the taking of a special vow, acts of homage by the new ruler's subjects, and/or performance of other ritual deeds of special significance to a given nation. Coronations were once a vital ritual in many of the world's monarchies, but this changed over time due to a variety of socio-political and religious factors. While most kingdoms have dispensed with them today, preferring simpler "enthronement" or "benediction" rites, coronations are still held in Great Britain, Tonga and several Asian countries.
In addition to the investing of the monarch with a diadem and other symbols of state, coronations often involve anointing with holy oil, or chrism as it is often called. Wherever a ruler is thusly anointed, as in Great Britain and Tonga, this ritual takes on an overtly religious significance, following examples found in the Bible. Some other lands use bathing or cleansing rites, the drinking of a sacred beverage, or other esoteric practices to achieve a comparable effect. All of these acts are alleged to bring down a special divine favor upon the consecrated sovereign.
The concepts of king, coronation and deity were often inexorably linked. In some ancient cultures, rulers were considered to be divine or partially divine: the Egyptian Pharaoh was believed to be the son of Ra, the sun god; while in Japan the Emperor was believed to be a descendant of Amaterasu, the sun goddess. Rome promulgated the practice of emperor worship; later, in Medieval Europe, monarchs claimed to have a "divine right" to rule. Coronations were once a powerful visual expression of these alleged connections, but recent centuries have seen the discrediting of such beliefs due to increasing secularization and democratization. Thus coronations have often been discarded altogether, or altered to reflect the constitutional nature of the states in which they are held. However, some kingdoms still choose to retain an overtly religious dimension to their accession rituals.
The European coronation ceremonies of the Middle Ages were essentially a combination of the Christian rite of anointing with the pre-Christian ritual of the gyratio. In some European countries prior to the adoption of Christianity, the ruler upon his election was raised on a shield, and while standing upon it, was borne on the shoulders of several chief men of the nation (or tribe) in a procession around his assembled subjects. This was usually performed three times. Following this, the king was given a spear, and a diadem, wrought of silk or linen (not to be confused with a crown) was bound around his forehead as a token of regal authority. Following Europe's conversion to Christianity, crowning ceremonies became more and more ornate, depending on the country in question, and their Christian elements—especially anointing—became the paramount concern. Crowns and sceptres, used in coronations since ancient times, took on a Christian significance together with the orb as symbols of the purported divine order of things, with the monarch as the divinely ordained overlord and protector of his dominion. During the Middle Ages, this rite was considered so vital in some European kingdoms that it was sometimes referred to as an "eighth sacrament". The anointed ruler was viewed as a mixta persona, part priest and part layman, but never wholly either. This notion persisted into the twentieth century in Tsarist Russia, where the Tsar was considered to be "wedded" to his subjects through the Orthodox coronation service.
For details about coronations in a particular country, ancient or modern, see the appropriate heading below under Coronations in antiquity or Coronations in the modern era.
Crowning ceremonies arose from a world-view in which monarchs were seen as ordained by God to serve not merely as political or military leaders, nor as figureheads or historical symbols—a role played by most royals today—but rather to occupy a vital (and very real) spiritual place in their dominions as well. Coronations were created to reflect and enable these alleged connections; however, the belief systems that gave birth to them have been radically altered in recent centuries by secularism, egalatarianism and the rise of constitutionalism and democracy. During the Protestant Reformation, the idea of divinely-ordained monarchs began to be challenged. The Age of Enlightenment and various revolutions of the last three centuries all helped to further this trend, until the religious dimension of the ceremony has become relatively meaningless in all but a few kingdoms (mostly in Asia and Oceania). Hence, many monarchies—especially in Europe—have dispensed with coronations altogether, or transformed them into simpler "inauguration" or "benediction" rites that better reflect the secular nature of those states. Of all European monarchies today, only the United Kingdom still retains its medieval coronation rite, though even this ritual has been altered in the last few centuries. Other nations still crowning their rulers include Cambodia, Thailand, Tonga, Bhutan, Lesotho, Brunei, the Toro Kingdom and Swaziland. The Papacy retains the option of a coronation, though no pope has used it since 1963.
Upon the death of the reigning Pharaoh, his successor was named immediately, so that the nation's cosmic protection would continue unbroken. While the new monarch ascended the throne the very next day, the coronation ceremony did not take place until the first day of a new season, thus symbolising the beginning of a new era. The ceremony was usually carried out at Memphis by the high priest, who invested the new king with the necessary powers to continue his predecessors' work.
As a permanent reminder to his people of his divine birthright, the Pharaoh wore various elements of royal regalia that varied depending upon the particular period in Egyptian history. Among these were a false beard made from goat's hair, identifying him with the god Osiris; a sceptre shaped like a shepherd's crook known as a Heka, which meant "ruler" and was often associated with magic; and a fly whip called the Nekhakha, symbol of his power and authority. The new monarch also wore a Shemset apron, while his back was protected by a bull's tail hanging from his belt, symbolic of strength, though this was later done away with. He was invested with a crown during his coronation: depending upon the timeframe in question, the king might have been given the White Crown, or Hedjet (the crown of Upper Egypt), the Deshret or Red Crown (diadem of Lower Egypt), the Pschent or Sekhemti (the Double Crown, combining the White and the Red Crowns), the Nemes or striped headcloth, or the Khepresh or Blue Crown. The Pschent was generally used for the highest state occasions, and was conferred on all Pharaohs from at least the First Dynasty on. When the Hedjet was combined with red Ostrich feathers of the Osiris cult, the resulting diadem was referred to as the Atef crown.
A more detailed account of a coronation in ancient Judah is found in II Kings 11:12 and II Chronicles 23:11, in which the seven-year-old Jehoash is crowned in a coup against the usurper Athaliah. This ceremony took place in the doorway of the Temple in Jerusalem. The king was led to "his pillar", "as the manner was", where a crown was placed upon his head, and "the testimony" given to him, followed by anointing at the hands of the high priest and his sons. Afterwards, the people "clapped their hands" and shouted "God save the King" as trumpets blew, music played, and singers offered hymns of praise. All of these elements would find their way in some form or another into future European coronation rituals after the conversion of Europe to Christianity many centuries later, and all Christian coronation rites continue to borrow from these examples.
Following the assumption of the diadem by Constantine, future Roman and Byzantine emperors continued to wear it as the supreme symbol of their authority. Although no specific coronation ceremony was observed at first, one gradually evolved over the next century. The emperor Julian was hoisted upon a shield and crowned with a gold necklace provided by one of his standard-bearers; he later wore a jewel-studded diadem. Future emperors were crowned and acclaimed in a similar manner, until the momentous decision was taken to permit the Patriarch of Constantinople to physically place the crown on the emperor's head. Historians debate exactly when this first took place, but the precedent was clearly established by the reign of Leo II, who was crowned by the Patriarch Acacius in 473. This ritual included recitation of prayers by the Byzantine prelate over the crown, a further—and extremely vital—development in the liturgical ordo of crowning. After this event, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "the ecclesiastical element in the coronation ceremonial rapidly develop[ed]".
The Byzantine coronation ritual, from at least 795 on, incorporated a partial clothing of the new emperor in various items of special clothing prior to his entrance to the church, following which he entered the cathedral and received the prostrations of the Senators and other patricians. The Patriarch then read a set of lengthy prayers, as the sovereign was invested first with the chlamys and then finally with the crown. Following this, the emperor received Holy Communion followed by further acts of homage.
In later centuries, after receiving their crown from the Patriarch, Byzantine emperors placed it upon their own head, symbolizing that their dominion came directly from God. Anointing was added to the ritual after the eleventh century, with the monarch receiving the Sign of the Cross on their forehead from the Patriarch. The purple chalamys also disappeared from the rite during this time, being replaced with the mandyas, or cope.
Successors of Charlemagne were crowned in Rome for several centuries, where they received the imperial crown in St. Peter's from the pope. The Iron Crown of Lombardy was conferred in the Church of St. Ambrose at Milan, that of Burgundy at Arles, and the German crown—which came to be the most important of all—was usually given at Aix-la-Chapelle. In the Roman ritual, the ruler was met at the silver door of St. Peter's, where the first coronation prayer was recited over him by the Bishop of Albano. He then entered the church, where the Bishop of Porto said a second prayer. The emperor was anointed by the Bishop of Ostia on his right arm and between his shoulders. Following this, he proceeded to the high altar, where the pope handed him a sword which he first flourished, then sheathed. The pope next delivered the sceptre to the emperor, then placed the crown upon his head. The ceremony was concluded with a Coronation Mass. The custom of the emperors going to Rome to be crowned was last observed by Frederick III in 1440; after that only the German coronation was celebrated.
The German coronation generally transpired as follows: the electors first met at Frankfurt, under the presidency of the Elector-Archbishop of Mainz. Once a candidate was selected, the new emperor was led to the high altar of the cathedral and seated. He was then conducted to a gallery over the entrance to the choir, where he seated himself with the electors while proclamation was made of his election. The coronation itself took place on a subsequent day. If the coronation was performed (as it usually was) at Aix-la-Chapelle, then the Archbishop of Cologne, as diocesan, was the chief officiant. The emperor was presented to him by the two other clerical electors, the Archbishops of Mainz and Trier. He was anointed on his head, the nape of his neck, his breast, his right arm between the wrist and the elbow, and on the palms of both hands. He was then vested in the imperial robes, which included buskins, a long alb, a stole crossed priest-wise over the breast, and the mantle. The regalia were then delivered to him, and the crown was set on his head conjointly by the three archbishops. A Coronation Mass followed, during which the emperor communicated in one kind. Whenever the coronations were performed at Aix-la-Chapelle, the new emperor was made a Canon of the church at its conclusion.
240 tons of food and drink were flown into Bangui for Bokassa's coronation banquet, including a tureen of caviar so large that two chefs had to carry it, and a seven-layer cake. Sixty new Mercedes-Benz limousines were airlifted into the capital, at a hefty cost of $300,000 for airfreight alone. All in all, the entire ceremony cost $20,000,000 to stage, an astronomical sum in a nation whose annual gross domestic product was only $250,000,000. The newly-crowned Emperor used French aid grants to cover a significant portion of the bill, saying: "Everything here was financed by the French government. We ask the French for money, get it and waste it".
In 1979, Bokassa was overthrown in a coup, carried out with French military support, by the very man he himself had overthrown in 1965, David Dacko. The monarchy was abolished, the emperor was exiled, and the empire reverted to its former name. Egypt The Kingdom of Egypt (1922-53) held an enthronement rite for its last ruling king, Farouk I. A controversy arose as to whether the ritual should be religious in nature, an option favored by the king, or whether it should be purely secular, which was desired by Farouk's Prime Minister at the time, Mustafa El-Nahhas. The religious ceremony envisaged the new king taking special vows in an Islamic ritual, followed by his receipt of the sword of Muhammad Ali Pasha. However, El-Nahhas insisted upon Farouk simply taking a constitutional oath before parliament, followed by a formal reception at his palace. The Prince Regent proposed combining the two ideas, but the government refused.
The coronation, which took place on 29 July 1937, followed the Prime Minister's directives. The Egyptian army swore loyalty to the new monarch, who then entered the Parliament chamber where he first greeted his mother, then listened to two speeches given by the Prime Minister and the speaker of the Upper House. Following this, the king took his constitutional oath, and was acclaimed by the assembled legislators and guests.
Farouk was overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. His son, Fuad II, was deposed in 1953 while still an infant, and the monarchy abolished.Ethiopia The Ethiopian Empire used a coronation ritual for its Emperors. The last such event was held on 2 November 1930, for Emperor Haile Selassie, the final monarch of Ethiopia.
Heavily influenced by Ethiopia's Coptic Christian tradition, preparation for the coronation ceremony commenced seven days prior to the actual event. Following an ancient Ethiopian custom, forty-nine Coptic bishops and priests continually chanted from the Psalter in groups of seven, in seven corners of the Cathedral of St. George, in Addis Ababa, where the crowning was to take place. On the eve of the ceremony, the imperial robes and regalia were taken into the church to be blessed and prayed over by the Abuna, or Archbishop, followed by the new Emperor and his family, who arrived at midnight and remained inside the cathedral that night in prayer.
The following morning, the Emperor was met inside the cathedral by the Archbishop, who presented him with a Gospel book and asked him to take a four-part coronation oath. This oath required him to defend the Ethiopian Orthodox Faith, rule according to law and the interest of his subjects, safeguard the realm and establish schools for teaching of both secular and Orthodox religious subjects. After this, the Abuna read a special prayer of blessing, while drums and harps accompanied the chanting of Psalm 48. Various items of the Imperial Regalia were brought forward, blessed and presented to the new sovereign one-by-one. These items included a golden sword, a scepter of ivory and gold, the orb, a diamond-incrusted ring, two traditional lances filigreed in gold, the imperial vestments, and finally the crown. Each item was accompanied by an anointing with seven differently-scented oils. After this, the new monarch and his consort were taken on a tour of the church, then escorted outside by a procession of notables carrying palm branches and chanting: "Blessed be the King of Israel".
Ethiopian tradition required the Emperor's consort to be crowned at the palace, three days after the coronation. However, Haile Selassie broke with this precedent, and had his wife crowned (but not anointed) in the cathedral with him. Selassie was overthrown by a military coup in 1974, and the monarchy was abolished in 1975.Lesotho The tiny African kingdom of Lesotho crowns its monarchs. The last such ritual was held on 31 October 1997, when current king Letsie III was crowned in a sports stadium in the capital city of Maseru. King Letsie entered the stadium escorted by units of mounted police clad in red uniforms and carrying sabers and lances. Donning a traditional coat of animal skins, the new ruler was crowned by two chieftains with a beaded headband containing a brown and white feather. Traditional dances and songs followed.Swaziland Swaziland, a small independent kingdom in southern Africa, held a coronation ritual in April 1986 for its current monarch, Mswati III. Although Swazi tradition required the king to wait until his twenty-first year to be crowned, Mswati was crowned three years early due to disputes between different factions in the regency council. Swazi chiefs paid a tribute of 105 cattle to the family of Mswati's mother, Ntombi, as a dowry for the woman who was to become the new "Mother of the Nation". The rite itself included various secret rituals, after which the new king took part in several ritual dances in full fethered regalia. At the coronation, tribal singers repeated his imposing chain of official titles, which include "the Bull", "Guardian of the Sacred Shields", "the Inexplicable" and "the Great Mountain". The dances were described by William Smith of Time as "exhausting".Toro Kingdom The Toro Kingdom—located in modern Uganda—crowned its current ruler, Rukidi IV, on 12 September 1995. Rukidi was the world's youngest monarch at the time, being only three years old. The boy was awakened at 2AM, then led to the palace where the rites would take place. At the entrance, Rukidi and his entourage engaged in a mock battle with a "rebel" prince, then entered to the accompanyment of the Omujaguza, the traditional Toro war-drum.
Once inside, Rukidi was led to the regalia room, where the Omusuga, or head of royal rituals, called upon the gods to strike the boy dead if he was not of royal blood. Once the Omusuga was satisfied as to the new king's lineage, Rukidi was permitted to ring the royal bell, then he sounded the Nyalebe or sacred drum, following which he was blessed with blood from a slaughtered bull and a white hen. As morning broke, women (who had been barred from the ritual up to this time) were admitted to the palace. The king was seated upon the lap of a virigin girl, and was fed with a royal meal of millet dough. A coronation oath was administered with the boy lying on his side, in accordance with Toro tradition.
At 10AM, the king, wearing a jewel-studded crown, was led to St. John's Anglican Cathedral where he was crowned by Anglican Bishop Eustance Kamanyire. Rukidi was given a Bible by the local Roman Catholic prelate, then returned to his palace where he was presented with a centuries-old copper spear and leather shield. Following this the king led a procession of Toro notables to inspect the royal corral, then concluded his coronation by greeting his subjects from a traditional shed.
Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of the founding fathers of Haiti, proclaimed himself Emperor of Haiti soon after its independence. He was crowned on 6 October 1804 in Le Cap, but was assassinated two years later. A Kingdom of Haiti was established in 1811 by Henri Christophe, another leader in the Haitian independence struggle. He was crowned in June 1811 in a lavish ritual presided over by Archbishop Corneil Breuil of Milot, but committed suicide in 1820. Faustin-Élie Soulouque later proclaimed himself to be Emperor Faustin I of Haiti; he was crowned in an extremely elaborate ceremony held in Port-au-Prince on 18 April 1852, but was forced to abdicate in 1859, bringing his nascent Haitian imperium to an end.Mexico Mexico was twice ruled by emperors: Agustín de Iturbide ruled from 1822 to 1823; he was crowned in a lavish ceremony on 21 July 1822 at the Catedral Metropolitana de Mexico in Mexico City, placing the diadem on his own head just as Napoleon I did. Agustin was overthrown in March 1823, and the monarchy abolished. Mexico's second monarch was Maximilian, an Austrian archduke who was persuaded to take the newly-revived Mexican throne in 1864 by Napoleon III of France (whose troops, in conjunction with Mexican conservatives, had instituted it). A crown and sceptre were manufactured for an intended coronation at the Catedral Metropolitana, but the ceremony was never carried out due to the instability of Maximilian's regime. Maximilian was defeated by Republican forces led by Mexican President Benito Juarez and executed in 1867, bringing his empire to an end.United States James J. Strang, a would-be successor to Joseph Smith, Jr. in the leadership of the Latter-day Saint movement from 1844-56, openly established an ecclesiastical monarchy on Beaver Island, Michigan in 1850. On 8 July of that year, he staged an elaborate coronation ceremony complete with a throne, wooden sceptre, breastplate and a crown described by one observer as "a shiny metal ring with a cluster of glass stars in the front". "King Strang" reigned over his followers until 16 June 1856, when he was assassinated by two disgruntled subjects. His people were driven from the island, and Strang's kingdom—together with his royal regalia—vanished.
Some observers compare the American presidential inauguration to a coronation, with the American constitutional requirement for a presidential oath identical to the oaths required of the world's monarchs. Some historians and comparative government experts indicate that the former stems directly from the latter. The pomp and pagentry of the modern event is certainly comparable in many ways to monarchial coronations.
The following day commences with the new king taking a ritual bath in water drawn from the Kulen Mountains, whose water is believed by Cambodian royals to be exceptionally pure. The bath is said to wash away the king's impurities, and increase his prestige. The new monarch is carried into the Preah Thineang Dheva Vinnichay, or Throne Hall, of the Palace on a gold chair, at the head of a large procession. Orange-clad Buddhist monks, one for every year of the king's life plus one, chant blessings. The king prays before statues of his ancestors inside the Hall. While priests blow on conch shells outside, the ruler next takes a formal oath to observe the constitution and to rule in the country's best interests. Following this, he receives various items of the royal regalia, including a calico cat, golden slippers, and the jewel-encrusted gold crown and sword.
The last such ceremony was held in 2004 for the current monarch, Norodom Sihamoni. Unlike some previous Cambodian rulers, Sihamoni elected not to wear the crown during his coronation.Iran
The Islamic Shahs of Persia (or Iran, after 1935) crowned themselves in an elaborate coronation ritual staged in Tehran, their capital. The last of these was the coronation of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran in 1967. The ceremony took place in the Grand Hall of the Golestan Palace, and commenced with the Imam Djomeh reciting several verses from the Quran and offering a special coronation prayer. Following this, various items of the Iranian regalia were brought forward. The Shah first received the Emerald Belt, followed by the Imperial Sword and Robe. Finally, the Pahlavi Crown was presented, and the Iranian ruler placed it upon his own head in accordance with Iranian custom. After this, the Shah was given the Imperial Sceptre, after which he crowned his empress and listened to three speeches. The Shah then offered an address of his own, following which he received the homage of all male members of his family.Japan The Emperor of Japan attends an enthronement ceremony soon after his accession; the last such ritual was held in 1990 for the current sovereign, Akihito. The Imperial Regalia consists of a sword, known as Kusanagi, a jewel, known as Yasakani no magatama, and a mirror, called Yata no Kagami. Unlike most other monarchies, Japan has no crown for its ruler.
This ancient rite is held in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. The ceremony is not public, and the regalia itself is generally seen only by the emperor himself and a few Shinto priests. However, an account in Time magazine from the enthronement of Akihito's father Hirohito in 1928 reveals a few details. First came a three-hour ceremony in which the emperor ritually informed his ancestors that he had assumed the throne. This was followed by the enthronement itself, which took place in an enclosure called the Takamikura, which contained a great square pedestal upholding three octagonal pedestals topped by a simple chair. This was surrounded by an octagonal pavilion with curtains, surmounted by a great golden Phoenix.
The new emperor proceeded to the chair, where after being seated, the Kusangi and Yasakain no magatama were placed on stands next to him. A simple wooden sceptre was presented to the monarch, who faced his Prime Minister standing in an adjacent courtyard, representing the Japanese people. The emperor offered an address announcing his accession to the throne, calling upon his subjects to single-mindedly assist him in attaining all of his aspirations. His Prime Minister replied with an address promising fidelity and devotion, followed by three shouts of "Banzai" from all of those present. The timing of this last event was synchronized, so that Japanese around the world could join in the "Banzai" shout at precisely the moment that it was being offered in Kyoto.
During the days after this ceremony, the new Emperor worshipped the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, offering her sacred boiled rice specially grown and prepared for the occasion. This was followed by three banquets and a visit to the Shrines of his Imperial Ancestors.Korea Korea was a monarchy from 2333 B.C.E. to 1910 C.E.. A record of the 1724 coronation of Emperor Yeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty has been preserved. According to this account, Yeongjo began his crowning ritual at noon on 26 October, by entering the funeral chamber where his deceased predecessor, Gyeongjong, lay in state. Having announced to his departed brother that he was assuming the royal mantle, Yeongjo burned incense before his remains, then entered the Injeongjeon Hall, where he was seated upon his throne. In the courtyard below, ranks of servants and bureaucrats bowed to him four times, shouting in unison each time: "Long live the king"! Following this, the new monarch left the throne room and changed back into mourning clothes for the reading of his accession edict. The decree contained the new emperor's pledge to rule justly and benevolently; it equally promised reductions in criminal sentences, provisions for the needy, and gifts for all of Yeongjo's loyal officials. The edict closed with a plea for help and cooperation throughout the reign to come.Laos Laos crowned its kings, with the last coronation being that of Sisavang Vong at the Royal Palace on 4 March 1905. These rites included rituals in which the king made a symbolic payment to representatives of his people for their land, with them in turn acknowledging his legitimacy. The last King of Laos, Savang Vatthana, was not crowned due to a communist insurgency which led to the abolition of the Laotian monarchy in 1975.Malaysia The nine royal rulers of Malaysia elect one of their number every five years to serve as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or King of Malaysia. The new ruler is enthroned in a special ceremony after his election, which involves usage of several items of regalia including the Tengkolok Diraja, or Royal Headdress—as opposed to a crown. According to legend, the first Sultan of Perak swore off the wearing of any diadems after the miraculous refloating of his ship, which had run aground during his journey to establish his reign in Perak. Hence, while Malaysian coronations are rather elaborate affairs, they do not involve the imposition of a crown. Instead, a special headdress is worn by the new king.
The new king proceds into the Istana Negara Throne Hall at the head of a large procession also consisting of his spouse, specially-picked soldiers carrying the royal regalia, and other notables including the Grand Chamberlain, or Datuk Paduka Maharaja Lela. The king and his wife are seated upon their thrones, and the regalia are brought forward. Following this, the Datuk Paduka Maharaja Lela brings forward a copy of the Quran, which the new monarch revrently receives, kisses, and places on a special table located between his throne and the queen's. A formal proclamation of the new king's reign is read, followed by the taking of a special coronation oath. The Prime Minister gives a special speech, which is followed by an address by the new king from the throne. A prayer is said, the Quran as returned to the Chamberlain, and the ceremony is completed.Nepal Kings of Nepal were crowned in a Hindu ceremony whose date was determined by court astrologers. Prior to the actual coronation, eight different kinds of clay were ceremonially applied to various parts of his body, and the new king took a ritual bath in holy water. Afterwards he was sprinkled with clarified butter, milk, curd and honey by representatives of the four traditional Hindu castes: a Brahman, a warrior, a merchant and an Untouchable. Only then was he ready to be crowned. At precisely the "right" moment, the royal priest placed a jewel-studded crown on the new king's head. The royals next rode on elephants through the streets of Kathmandu, together with other distinguished guests.
The Nepalese monarchy was abolished in 2008, following several years of pro-democracy and Maoist agitation.Thailand Thailand holds a coronation ceremony for its king upon his accession to the throne. The last such ritual was held on 5 May 1950, upon the accession of the current monarch, Bhumibol Adulyadej. This ceremony included several ancient Buddhist and Brahmanic rites, including the presentation of a nine-tiered umbrella (symbol of royal authority) and other items of the royal regalia to the sovereign. Without this, no Thai king can assume the title of "Phrabat" or use the umbrella.
Bhumibol's coronation began with a ceremonial bath, following which the new king put on the white robes of a Brahmin monk, and had sacred water poured over his shoulders while a "gong of victory" was struck by the court astrologer. Afterwards, he received nine pitchers filled with sacred water, drawn fron eighteen different sites in Thailand. The nine-tiered umbrella was then presented, followed by five other items of the royal regalia: the Golden Crown, the Royal Ancestral Sword, the Whisk of the Tail Hairs of a White Elephant, a Small Flat Fan, and a pair of Golden Slippers. In accordance with Thai tradition, Bhumibol placed the crown upon his own head, then received a special golden Ring of Kingship.
After this, the new Thai ruler seated himself upon the Bhatarabit Throne at the Grand Palace, where he pronounced the Oath of Accession, promising that he would reign for the benefit and happiness of his people. He also poured ceremonial water to symbolize his complete dedication to his royal responsibilities, in accordance with the "Tenfold Moral Principles of the Sovereign": alms-giving and charity, strict moral standards, self-sacrifice, honesty and integrity, courtesy and kindness, austerity in his habits, harboring no anger or hatred, practicing and promoting non-violence, exuding patience, forbearance and tolerance, and displaying impartiality to all. After this, Bhumibol elevated his wife, Sirikit, to be the Queen of Thailand. Finally, the royal couple visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha where he made a solemn vow to protect the Buddhist religion.
Emperors of Austria were never physically crowned (unlike their predecessors in the Holy Roman Empire), as a coronation was not viewed as being necessary to legitimize their rule in that country. However, these rulers were sometimes crowned in other portions of their domain. For instance, Ferdinand I of Austria was crowned King of Bohemia with the Crown of Saint Wenceslas in 1836, and as King of Lombardy and Venetia in 1838, using the Iron Crown of Lombardy.
During the long personal union of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary, the Habsburg Emperor had to be crowned King of Hungary in order to promulge laws there or exercize his royal prerogatives. The only Habsburg who reigned without being crowned in Hungary was Joseph II, who was called kalapos király in Hungarian ("the hatted king"). The final such rite was held in Budapest on 30 December 1916, when Karl I of Austria was crowned as Charles IV of Hungary. The ceremony was rushed, due both to the war and the constitutional requirement for the Hungarian monarch to approve the state budget prior to the end of the calendar year. The Austro-Hungarian state perished with the end of World War I, although Hungary would later restore a titular monarchy from 1920-45—while forbidding Charles to resume the throne. A communist takeover in 1945 spelled the final end of this "kingdom without a king".Bavaria A kingdom from 1806-1918, Bavaria possessed its own set of crown jewels. However, there was no coronation ceremony, and the king never wore the crown in public. Rather, it was placed on a cushion at his feet. The Bavarian monarchy was abolished in 1918.Belgium Belgium has no crown (except as a heraldic emblem); the monarch's formal installation requires only a solemn oath on the constitution in parliament, symbolic of the limited power allowed to the king under the 1831 Constitution. During the enthronements of Baudouin and Albert II, one legislator cried "long live the Republic of Europe", only to be shouted down by the others, who cried "Vive le Roi", with the entire chamber rising to applaud the king.Bulgaria While Bulgaria was a monarchy from its independence in 1878 until 1946, no modern Bulgarian king was ever crowned.Denmark
Danish enthronements may be divided into three distinct types of rituals: the medieval coronation, which existed during the period of elective monarchy; the anointing ritual, which replaced coronation with the introduction of absolute monarchy in 1660; and finally the simple proclamation, which has been used since the introduction of the Danish Constitution in 1849.
The coronation ritual (as of 1537) began with a procession of the ruler and his consort into St. Mary's cathedral in Copenhagen, followed by the Danish crown jewels. The monarch was seated before the altar, where he swore to govern justly, preserve the Lutheran religion, support schools, and help the poor. Following this, the king was anointed on the lower right arm and between the shoulders, but not on the head. Then the royal couple retired to a tented enclosure where they were robed in royal attire, returning to hear a sermon, the Kyrie and Gloria, and then a prayer and the Epistle reading.
Following the Epistle, the king knelt before the altar, where he was first given a sword. After flourishing and sheathing it, the still-kneeling monarch was crowned by the clergy and nobility, who jointly placed the diadem upon their ruler's head. The sceptre and orb were presented, then returned to attendants. The queen was anointed and crowned in a similar manner, but she received only a sceptre and not an orb. Finally, a choral hymn was sung, following which the newly-crowned royals listened to a second sermon and the reading of the Gospel, which brought the service to an end.
In 1660 the coronation ritual was replaced with a ceremony of anointing, where the new king would arrive at the coronation site already wearing the crown, where he was then anointed. This rite was in turn abolished with the introduction of the Danish Constitution in 1849. Today the crown of Denmark is only displayed at the monarch's funeral, when it sits atop their coffin. The present Queen, Margrethe II, did not have any formal enthronement service; a public announcement of her accession was made from the balcony of Christianborg Palace, with the new sovereign being acclaimed by her Prime Minister at the time (1972), Otto Krag, then cheered with a ninefold "hurrah" by the crowds below.France
A coronation following the Byzantine formula was instigated in France with the crowning of King Clovis I of the Franks at Rheims in 497 C.E.., in which a so-called "Holy Dove" was alleged to have descended with an ampoule of holy oil for the ruler's anointing. All succeeding Kings of France were anointed with this same oil—mixed with chrism—and crowned at Notre-Dame de Reims. French queens were crowned in the Abbey of St. Denis.
The French coronation ritual was similar to the one used in England. The unction was given, first on the top of the head (in the form of a cross), then on the breast, between the shoulders, and at the joints of both arms. The king was vested in the dalmatic, tunic and royal robe, all of purple velvet sprinkled with fleurs-de-lys of gold, representing the three Catholic orders of subdeacon, deacon and priest. Kneeling again, he was anointed in the palms of both hands, after which the royal gloves, ring and sceptre were delivered. Then the peers were summoned by name to come near and assist, while the archbishop of Reims took the Crown of Charlemagne from the altar and set it on the king's head. After this, the enthronement itself, followed by the showing of the king to his people, took place. Then a Mass was said, and at its conclusion the king received Holy Communion under both species (bread and wine).
The last French coronation was that of Charles X, in 1824. Charles' decision to be crowned, in contrast to his predecessor, Louis XVIII, proved unfavorable with the French public, and Charles was ultimately overthrown in a revolution in 1830. His successor, Louis Phillipe, opted not to have a coronation. The French government broke up and sold off most of the French Crown Jewels after 1875, in hopes of avoiding any further royalist agitation against the newly-restored republic.
During the First French Empire, Emperor Napoleon I was crowned in December 1804 in an extremely elaborate ritual presided over by Pope Pius VII and conducted at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The pope and prelates entered Notre Dame in procession, followed by Napoleon and Joséphine with the Imperial Regalia preceding them. The regalia were placed on the altar and blessed by the pope, who then seated himself upon a throne to the left of the altar. Following this Napoleon was anointed by the pontiff three times on the head and hands, with the new emperor reportedly yawning several times during this act and the remainder of the ceremony. The high point of the ceremony came when Napoleon advanced to the altar, took the crown and placed it upon his own head. Replacing this with a laurel wreath of gold made in the ancient Roman style, he then crowned his wife, who knelt before him. Six months later, Napoleon was crowned King of Italy at Milan with the Iron Crown of Lombardy.
Emperor Napoleon III elected not to have a coronation ceremony. Nevertheless, a small consort's crown was fabricated for his wife, Empress Eugenie, which remains in the possession of the French government.German Empire Imperial Germany was ruled by a Kaiser, who was also the King of Prussia. Although a design and model for a German State Crown were made, no final diadem was ever produced, and none of its three Kaisers was ever fomally crowned as Emperor. William I was crowned in 1861 as King of Prussia, prior to the establishment of the German Empire. Greece Although Greece retains a set of crown jewels given to it by its first king, Otto I, no Greek king was ever crowned with them. The Greek monarchy was abolished in 1974.Italy The modern Kingdom of Italy, which existed from 1861 to 1946, did not crown its monarchs.Liechtenstein Liechtenstein does not use a coronation or enthronement ceremony, although Prince Hans Adam II did attend a mass by the Archbishop of Vaduz, followed by a choral display. Liechtenstein has no royal crown or regalia.Luxembourg The Grand Duke of Luxembourg is enthroned at a ceremony held in the nation's parliament at the beginning of his or her reign. The monarch takes an oath of loyalty to the state constitution, then attends a solemn mass at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. No crown or other regalia exists for the rulers of Europe's last sovereign Grand Duchy.Monaco The Principality of Monaco does not possess any regalia, and thus does not physically crown its ruler. However, the Prince or Princess does attend a special investure ceremony, consisting of a festive mass in the Cathedral of Monaco, followed by a reception where the new ruler meets his subjects.Netherlands Although the Netherlands has a crown and other regalia, these have never been physically bestowed upon any Dutch monarch. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, like each of her predecessors, had an inauguration ceremony rather than a coronation. This ritual was held at the Nieuwe Kerk, in the capital city of Amsterdam. The crown, orb and sceptre were placed on cushions surrounding a copy of the Dutch constitution, with the Queen seated on a throne opposite them as she took her formal oath to uphold the kingdom's fundamental law.Norway
The first coronation in Norway, and Scandinavia, took place in Bergen in 1163 or 1164. The Christ Church (Old Cathedral) in Bergen remained the place of coronations in Norway until the capital was moved to Oslo under King Haakon V. From then on some coronations were held in Oslo, but most were held in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.
The Norwegian constitution of 1814 required the King of Norway to be crowned in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Norway was in a personal uinon with the King of Sweden at this time, a union which would be abolished in 1905. That year, Norway elected Prince Carl of Denmark, who would become Haakon VII of Norway, as its new king. Haakon and his queen, Maud, were accordingly crowned at Trondheim on 22 June 1906. The constitutional mandate for a coronation was repealed in 1908, and the ruler was thereafter only required to take his formal accession oath in the Council of State and thereafter in the Parliament, the Storting.
When Olav V ascended the throne in 1957, he felt the need for a religious ceremony—not only for his reign, but also as the new head of the Church of Norway. Thus a ceremony of royal consecration, known as Signing til kongsgjerning, was introduced as a separate, ecclesiastical rite. This ritual took place in 1958 and again in 1991, when King Harald V and Queen Sonja were similarly consecrated. Simpler than the previous coronation rituals, the kongsgjerning is performed in the cathedral of Trondheim in the presence of cabinet ministers, officials and other guests. The Norwegian Royal Regalia, including the king's crown, are displayed on the high altar but the diadem is never placed upon the sovereign's head. This dignified yet modern ceremony achieves its climax when, amidst prayers asking for God's favor upon the monarch, the new king kneels before the Bishop of Nidaros, who blesses and consecrates him to be the ruler of Norway. Portugal In 1646, King John IV of Portugal consecrated the Crown of Portugal to the Virgin Mary, proclaiming her to be the queen and patroness of his nation. After this act, no Portuguese sovereign ever wore a crown. The Portuguese monarchy was abolished in 1910. Poland Poland crowned its rulers beginning in 1025; the final such ceremony occurred in 1764, when the last Polish King, Stanisław August Poniatowski, was crowned at St. John's Cathedral, Warsaw. Other coronations took place at Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, and also in Poznań and Gniezno Cathedral. Though many of the Polish Crown Jewels were destroyed by Prussian King Frederick William III, a few pieces are exhibited at the National Museum in Warsaw. Polish coronations were whenever possible conducted as close as possible to the date of the previous sovereign's funeral; this was a concept expressed by by Joachim Bielski in the sixteenth century: osoba umiera, korona nie umiera (the royal person dies, the crown dies not).
During the period when coronations were held in Kraków, the following order was observed: On the eve of his coronation, the new monarch fasted, gave alms, and partook of the Catholic sacrament of confession. He then walked on foot from the royal castle to the church of St. Stanislas in Rupella, patron saint of Poland. Unlike the remainder of the service, the royal procession was opened to the Polish masses. On the morning of the ceremony, the king was met in his bedchamber by a procession consisting of the local Metropolitan Archbishop and other notables. Wearing episcopal clothing, the monarch was blessed with holy water and incensed. Following this, king, metropolitan and the others made their way in procession to the cathedral.
Inside the church, the Polish regalia were laid on the high altar, while the king was seated on a low chair nearby. The royal oath was administered, and the new monarch then knelt before the altar. Two mitred abbots next entered from a side chapel, carrying a mixture of holy oils, with which the ruler was then anointed. Following this, the king was handed a sword, which he used to trace a cross in the air. Next he was crowned by the Archbishop, assisted by two other bishops, following which he received his orb and sceptre. The high mass continued, with the newly-crowned sovereign receiving Holy Communion, then kissing a crucifix and mounting his throne. Following this, the king created several new knights, then attended a coronation feast and rode into the public square on horseback, where he received the homage of his subjects while seated in a large chair.Romania Romania used a coronation ceremony during its monarchial period (1881-1947). Its crown was rather unique, being comprised of steel rather than gold or some other precious metal. In 1922, King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie were crowned in an interdenominational service held on the public square in Alba Iulia, a major city in the new Romanian province of Transylvania. Ferdinand's son, Carol II, intended to be crowned in September 1930, but abandoned his plans due to marital difficulties with his wife, Queen Helen. His son, Michael I, was crowned and anointed on 6 September 1940 at the Patriarchial Cathedral in Bucharest by Patriarch Nicodim Munteanu.Russia
Russian coronations took place in Moscow, the country's ancient capital. The new ruler made a great processional entrance on horseback into the city, accompanied by multiple cavalry squadrons, his consort (in an accompanying carriage) and the pealing of literally thousands of church bells. The new Tsar stopped at the Chapel of Our Lady of Iver, home of the Icon of the Blessed Virgin of Iver, one of the most revered icons in Moscow. It was a tradition with Russian Tsars that every entry to the Kremlin be marked by the veneration of this image.
The Tsar was met on the morning of his coronation at the Kremlin Palace, where he took his place under a large canopy held by several Russian generals. This procession made its way to the Dormition Cathedral, where all coronations took place. The Tsar and his wife entered the cathedral, venerated the Cross and the icons, and took their places on the cathedral dias, where two large thrones were set up.
Following the tradition of the Byzantine Emperors, the Tsar placed the crown upon his own head. This was intended to indicate the imperial power, which the Tsars viewed as the direct continuation of the Christian Roman Empire (see Byzantium), came directly from God. The prayer of the Metropolitan, similar to that of the Patriarch of Constantinople for the Byzantine Emperor, confirmed the imperial supremacy.
After the Tsar recited the Orthodox Nicene Creed, an invocation of the Holy Ghost and a litany were intoned. Following this, the emperor assumed the purple Chlamys, and the crown was presented to him. He took it and placed it upon his own head, as the Metropolitan chanted:
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen."
The Metropolitan would then make the following short address:
"Most God-fearing, absolute, and mighty Lord, Tsar of all the Russias, this visible and tangible adornment of thy head is an eloquent symbol that thou, as the head of the whole Russian people, art invisibly crowned by the King of kings, Christ, with a most ample blessing, seeing that He bestows upon thee entire authority over His people." The Tsar next received other items of the Imperial regalia, and was seated upon his throne. His wife then knelt before him. He handed the orb and sceptre to an attendant, then took off his crown and placed it briefly upon her head before returning it to his own. The Tsar next placed a smaller crown upon his consort's head, and a purple mantle, signifying her sharing in his imperial dignity and responsibility for the nation's welfare. Following this, both Tsar and Tsaritsa were anointed with myrrh by the presiding prelate.
Kings of Scotland were crowned at Scone Abbey, in the town of Scone, a few miles north of Perth. Prior to 1296, the king was seated upon the famed Stone of Scone throughout the ceremony; this was considered an essential element of the ritual. Following the removal of the stone to England by Edward I, coronations continued to be staged at the abbey or at Stirling. Scotland has its own crown jewels, which were used in all coronation ceremonies up to that of Charles II, the final king to be crowned in Scotland.
One interesting feature of Scottish coronations was the ollamh rígh, or royal poet, who addressed the new monarch with Beannachd Dé Rígh Alban, or "God Bless the King of Scotland". The poet went on to recite the monarch's genealogy back to the first ever Scotsman. It was traditional in Gaelic-speaking cultures like Scotland that a king's legitimacy be established by recitation of the royal pedigree. Scottish rulers did not necessarily have to wait for any certain age to be crowned: Mary was crowned at nine months of age, while her son, James VI, was crowned at thirteen months. Mary's father, James V, was barely seventeen months of age at the time of his coronation.Serbia-Yugoslavia Serbia's last coronation was in 1904, when King Peter I was crowned in an Orthodox Christian ceremony at the Cathedral of the Host of Holy Archangels in Belgrade. Serbia became a part of the state of Yugoslavia after World War I, but Peter did not hold a second coronation. Neither of his two successors, Alexander I and Peter II, was crowned.Spain No Spanish ruler has been physically crowned since John I of Castile. Instead, the new monarch appears at the Cortes, where he or she takes a formal oath to uphold the Constitution. Although the crown is evident at the ceremony, it is never actually placed on the monarch's head. Five days after his visit to the Cortes, current Spanish King Juan Carlos I attended an "Enthronement Mass" at the Church of San Jerónimo el Real in Madrid. Accompanied by his wife Sofia, he was escorted beneath a canopy to a set of thrones set up near the high altar. Following the service, the Royals returned to the palace, where they greeted their subjects from the balcony, reviewed troops and attended a formal banquet.
Historical Spanish coronations were performed at Toledo, or in the Church of St Jerome at Madrid, with the king being anointed by the archbishop of Toledo. The monarch assumed the royal sword, sceptre, crown of gold and the apple of gold, after receiving his anointing.Sweden In Sweden, no king has been crowned since Oscar II in 1873. The current monarch, Carl XVI Gustav, was enthroned in a simple but dignified ceremony at the throne room of the Royal Palace in Stockholm on 19 September 1973. The crown jewels were displayed on cushions to the right and left of the royal throne, but were never given to the king. Carl made an accession speech, which comprised the main purpose of the undertaking.
Previously, Swedish kings were crowned at the "Storkyrka", at Stockholm. The monarch was anointed by the Archbishop of Uppsala, highest prelate in the Church of Sweden, on the breast, temples, forehead and palms of both hands. The crown was then placed on the king's head by the archbishop and the Minister of Justice jointly, whereupon the state marshal proclaimed: "Now is crowned king of the Swedes, Goths and Wends, he and no other". When there was a queen consort, she was then anointed, crowned and proclaimed in the same manner. Earlier coronations were also held at Uppsala, the ecclesiastical center of Sweden.United Kingdom
The British Monarch is usually proclaimed in an outdoor ceremony at St. James's Palace within hours of the death of his or her predecessor.
The coronation ceremony itself takes place in Westminster Abbey. Since the British sovereign is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and his or her coronation does not take place in a cathedral—which would be the domain of a bishop—but at Westminster Abbey, which is a Royal Peculiar (a church directly under the monarch). The king or queen enters the abbey in procession, and is seated on a "Chair of Estate" as the Archbishop of Canterbury goes to the east, south, west and north of the building asking if those present are willing to pay homage to their new ruler. Once the attendees respond affirmitavely, the Archbishop administers the Coronation Oath, and a Bible is presented by both the Archbishop (representing the Church of England) and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Once this is done, the actual crowning can take place.
The monarch is crowned while seated upon the ancient St. Edward's Chair, or Coronation chair, which includes the Scottish Stone of Scone. A canopy is held over the new ruler's head, while the Archbishop anoints him or her with holy oil on the hands, breast and head, concluding with a special blessing. Spurs and the Sword of State are presented, followed by the Sovereign's Orb (which is immediately returned to the altar), the Sceptre with the Dove and the Sceptre with the Cross. Once this is done, the Archbishop of Canterbury places the Crown of St. Edward upon the monarch's head. If a Queen Consort is present, she is crowned at this point in a simple ritual.
Afterwards, the new ruler is seated upon the throne, and receives homage from various members of the British clergy and nobility. Holy Communion is given to the sovereign, who then enters St. Edward's Chapel as the Te Deum is sung, where he or she exchanges St. Edward's Crown for the Imperial State Crown and exits the church wearing the crown and carrying the Sceptre with the Cross and Orb as "God Save the King (or Queen)" is sung.The Vatican From 1305 to 1963 the Popes were crowned with the Papal Tiara in a coronation ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Following the decision of the last crowned Pope, Paul VI, to lay the Papal tiara on the high altar of the cathedral as a symbol of humility, the next three popes declined to wear it, and instituted a ceremony of papal inauguration rather than a formal coronation. While the popes John Paul I, John Paul II (who also completely abandoned the use of the sedia gestatoria, a portable throne) and Benedict XVI opted for an inauguration instead of an old-fashioned coronation, any future pope can, in theory, opt for the coronation ritual.
Liliuokalani, who succeeded Kalakua in 1891, did not have a coronation prior to her overthrow in 1893 and the abolition of the Hawaiian monarchy.Tonga In 1967 and again in 2008, Tonga crowned its king (Taufa'ahau Tupou IV and George Tupou V, respectively) in elaborate ceremonies complete with a large gold crown, sceptre, and throne. The Christian character of Tonga's monarchy was reiterated in the 2008 event - as were Tonga's former ties to Great Britain - as Anglican Archbishop of Polynesia Jabez Brice anointed King George Topou V with sacred chrism just as in the British rite. This ceremony, introduced to the islands by Western missionaries, followed a centuries-old traditional Tongan rite, which involved the ritual drinking of kava by the new king, together with the receipt of dozens of cooked pigs and baskets of food. The Master of the Royal Household, the Honourable Tu'ivauavou, described this as "the true coronation", a sentiment echoed by royal spokesman Ma'u Kakala.