While some things may have changed, one will be exactly the same: the coronation crown.
Permanently housed in the Tower of London, the crown in question forms the centrepiece to what is known as the Crown Jewels.
The jewels, particularly the items known collectively as the Coronation Regalia, are sacred artefacts that mostly date back to the 1600s. While various pieces of the Crown Jewels are worn on different occasions, the pieces that form the Coronation Regalia are the only items traditionally used when coronating new kings and queens.
The Coronation Crown: St Edward’s Crown
The St Edward’s Crown is a magnificent gold and purple, fur-lined headpiece, adorned with semi-precious stones. For those curious, it weighs in at a hefty 2.2kg—not a small figure for a headpiece.
The crown was made for the coronation of Charles II in 1660, and was a replacement for the previous crown that was destroyed after the execution of King Charles I in 1649 (also marking the brief period England was a republic).
The St Edward’s Crown is used in all coronations, and was last used in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Since then, it has only left the Tower of London twice. The first was during the 60th Anniversary celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, when the crown was displayed on an alter at Westminster Abbey. Then again, in 2023, it was taken to a top secret location to be resized for the coronation of King Charles III.
However, the St Edward’s Crown is not the only crown used during the coronation event. While it is bestowed upon the new king or queen at their coronation ceremony, it is exchanged for another crown at the end of the service, as the new monarch leaves Westminster Abbey.
The Other Crown: The Imperial State Crown
The second crown worn during the coronation is the Imperial State Crown, which is worn as the new king or queen leaves the ceremony.
The Imperial State Crown was made in 1937 and is just as flashy as its older sibling.
While it features less gold—it is way more bedazzled, featuring such notable gems as the Black Prince’s Ruby, the Cullinan II diamond and the Stuart Sapphire. It also features the same purple-hued fabric and fur trim
The Imperial State Crown is donned during most state functions, such as parliamentary openings. It was most recently placed atop the casket of Queen Elizabeth II during her funeral proceedings.
During the ceremony, King Charles will be handed two sceptres along with other significant items in the Coronation Regalia.
The Sceptre with Cross—adorned with a cross at the end—signifies “kingly power and justice”, the BBC reports. It also features the ‘Star of Africa’ or Cullinan I diamond: the largest cut diamond in the world.
Meanwhile, the longer Sceptre with Dove, or the Rod of Equity and Mercy, is a symbol of the spiritual role of a monarch, who is traditionally believed to hold religious significance as a Divinely-appointed head of state.
The Sovereign’s Orb
Dating back to 1611, the Sovereign’s Orb is a very (on the nose) symbol of the monarch’s authority.
The gold sphere, mounted with a bejewelled cross is intended to symbolise the monarch’s hold on the christian world.
It is 16.5cm wide and weighs just over a kilogram.
The Swords, The Spoon and The Ampulla
An assortment of weaponry is also traditionally used in a coronation, including three swords of significance.
The swords are carried, blades-up, by members of the coronation procession. There is the: Sword of Temporal Justice, which signifies the Monarch’s role as Head of the Armed Forces; the Sword of Spiritual Justice, which symbolises the Monarch as the Defender of the Faith, and the Sword of Mercy (recognisable for its blunt tip) which, as the name suggests, is a symbol of the Monarch’s mercy.
There is also The Ampulla—a gilded eagle container—which holds the holy oil that will anoint King Charles and the new Queen Consort Camilla. This also comes with a gold spoon to assist in the process.