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The coronation of Charles VII of France

A coronation is a ceremony marking the investiture of a monarch or their consort 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 monarchies have dispensed with formal coronation rites, preferring simpler enthronement, investiture, or benediction rites, coronations are still held in the United Kingdom, Tonga and several Asian countries. In common usage, "coronation" often simply refers to the official investiture or enthronement of the monarch, whether an actual crown is bestowed or not.

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 anointed in this way, 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 religious practices to achieve a comparable effect. Such acts symbolise the granting of divine favour to the monarch within the relevant spiritual-religious paradigm of the country.

In the past, concepts of royalty, 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; in Medieval Europe, monarchs claimed to have a divine right to rule. Coronations were once a direct visual expression of these alleged connections, but recent centuries have seen the lessening of such beliefs due to increasing secularization and democratization. Thus coronations (or their religious elements, at least) have often been discarded altogether, or altered to reflect the constitutional nature of the states in which they are held. However, some monarchies still choose to retain an overtly religious dimension to their accession rituals. Others have adopted simpler "enthronement or "inauguration" ceremonies, or even no ceremony at all.

History and development • Monarchical power • Heirs apparent
In antiquityAncient Egypt • Ancient Israel • Ancient Persia • Imperial Rome and Byzantium
In the modern era

  Africa: Central African Empire • Egypt • Ethiopia • Lesotho • Swaziland • Toro Kingdom

  Americas: Brazil • Haiti • Mexico • United States

  Asia: Bhutan • Brunei • Cambodia • Iran • Japan • Jerusalem • Korea • Laos • Malaysia • Nepal • Thailand

  Eastern Europe: Albania • Bosnia • Bulgaria • Croatia • Greece • Hungary • Poland • Romania • Russia • Serbia •

  Western Europe: Austria • Bavaria • Belgium • Bohemia • Denmark • France • Holy Roman Empire • Italy • Liechtenstein • Luxembourg • Monaco • Netherlands • Norway • Portugal • Prussia • Scotland • Sicily and Naples • Spain • Sweden • United Kingdom • The Vatican

  Oceania: Hawaii • Tonga

Other uses • See also • Notes • References • External links

History and development

Coronations, in one form or another, have existed since ancient times. Egyptian records show coronation scenes, such as that of Seti I in 1290 B.C.,[1] while the Judeo-Christian scriptures testify to particular rites associated with the conferring of kingship, the most detailed accounts of which are found in II Kings 11:12 and II Chronicles 23:11. These Biblical accounts influenced later European ceremonies, together with those of Ethiopia and Tonga, following the conversion of those lands to Christianity.[2] In non-Christian states, coronation rituals evolved from a variety of sources, often related to the religious beliefs of that particular nation. Buddhism, for instance, influenced the coronation rituals of Thailand, Cambodia and Bhutan, while Hindu elements played a significant role in Nepalese rites. The ceremonies used in modern Egypt, Malaysia, Brunei and Iran were shaped by Islam, while Tonga's ritual combines ancient Polynesian influences with more modern Anglican ones. However it is the European coronation ceremonies, most specifically that used in Great Britain (the last of which occurred in 1953), that are perhaps best-known to most Westerners. These descend from rites initially created in the Holy Roman Empire and Byzantium, and brought to their apogee during the Medieval era.

Detail of the mosaic with King Roger II of Sicily receiving the crown directly from Jesus Christ, Martorana, Palermo.

The European coronation ceremonies of the Middle Ages were essentially a combination of the Christian rite of anointing with additional elements. 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.[2] 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.[2][3] 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".[4] The anointed ruler was viewed as a mixta persona, part priest and part layman, but never wholly either.[2] 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.[5]

Crowning ceremonies arose from a world-view in which monarchs were seen as ordained by God[N 1] 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.[4] 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, egalitarianism and the rise of constitutionalism and democracy. During the Protestant Reformation, the idea of divinely-ordained monarchs began to be challenged.[6][7] 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).[4] 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.[3] 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.[8]

Monarchical power

Ahmad Shah Durrani being crowned as Emir of Afghanistan in 1747.

In most kingdoms, a monarch succeeding hereditarily does not have to undergo a coronation to ascend the throne or exercise the prerogatives of their office. King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, for example, did not reign long enough to be crowned before he abdicated, yet he was unquestionably the King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India during his brief reign. This is because in Britain, the law stipulates that the moment one monarch dies, the new one assumes the throne; thus, there is no point at which the throne is vacant.[9] In France, the new king ascended the throne when the coffin of the previous monarch descended into the vault at Saint Denis Basilica, and the Duke of Uzes proclaimed "Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi"![N 2][10] In Hungary, on the other hand, no ruler was regarded as being truly legitimate until he was physically crowned with St. Stephen's Crown,[11][12][N 3] while monarchs of Belgium or Albania were not allowed to succeed or exercise any of their prerogatives until swearing a formal constitutional oath before their respective nations' parliaments.[13] Following their election, the kings of Poland were permitted to perform a variety of political acts prior to their coronation, but were not allowed to exercise any of their judicial powers prior to being crowned.[14]

Heirs apparent

Coronation of Philip, son of King Louis VII of France, as junior king

During the Middle Ages, Capetian Kings of France chose to have their heirs apparent crowned during their own lifetime in order to avoid succession disputes.[15][16] This practice was later adopted by Angevin Kings of England and Kings of Hungary. From the moment of their coronation, the heirs were regarded as junior kings (rex iunior), but they exercised little power and were not included in the numbering of monarchs. The nobility disliked this custom, as it reduced their chances to benefit from a possible succession dispute.[17]

The last heir apparent to the French throne to be crowned during his father's lifetime was the future Philip II of France, while the only crowned heir apparent to the English throne was Henry the Young King, who was first crowned alone and then with his wife, Margaret of France. The practice was eventually abandoned by all kingdoms that had adopted it, as the rules of primogeniture became stronger. The last coronation of an heir apparent was the coronation of the future Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria as junior King of Hungary in 1830.[18]

In antiquity

Ancient Egypt

Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were believed to be directly descended from the gods. These deities were believed to confer special powers upon the ruler, all of which were essential to maintaining earthly and cosmic order. Thus, a Pharaoh's coronation was not merely a rite to proclaim him as king or to legitimize his political right to rule; it literally facilitated the transmission of these unearthly powers to the new Egyptian ruler. In this ceremony, the king was transformed into a god by means of his union with the royal ka, or lifeforce of the soul. All previous kings of Egypt had possessed this royal ka, and at his or her coronation, the monarch became divine as "one with the royal ka when his human form was overtaken by his immortal element, which flows through his whole being and dwells in it".[19] This made him the son of Ra, the sun god, Horus, the falcon god, and Osiris, the god of life, death and fertility. From the Middle Kingdom on, the Pharaoh also came to be seen as the son of Amun, the king of Egyptian gods, until his cult faded in later centuries. At his death, the king became fully divine, according to Egyptian belief, being assimilated with Osiris and Ra.[19]

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.[20]

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.[21] 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.[20][21] The Pschent was generally used for the highest state occasions,[20] and was conferred on all Pharaohs from at least the First Dynasty on.[22] When the Hedjet was combined with red Ostrich feathers of the Osiris cult, the resulting diadem was referred to as the Atef crown.

Ancient Israel

According to the Bible, Kings in Biblical Israel were crowned and anointed, most often by (or at the behest of) a prophet or high priest. In I Samuel 10:1, the prophet Samuel anoints Saul to be Israel's first king; later, in I Samuel 16:13, he anoints David to replace him. In II Samuel 12:30, David is crowned with the Ammonite crown, after his conquest of Rabbah, the Ammonite capital. II Kings 9:1-6 tells of the anointing of Jehu as king of Israel. Esther 2:17 relates the crowning of Esther as consort of Ahasuerus, king of Persia. Ahasuerus was once identified with Xerxes I of Persia, though most scholars reject this connection today.[23] He has also been identified with Artaxerxes I and Artaxerxes II.

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.

Ancient Persia

The Greek historian and philosopher Plutarch wrote in his Life of King Artaxerxes that the Persian king was required to go to the ancient capital of Pasargadae for his coronation ceremony. Once there, he entered a temple "to a warlike goddess, whom one might liken to Artemis" (whose name is unknown today, nor can this temple be located), and there divested himself of his own robe, substituting the one worn by Cyrus I at his crowning. After this, he had to consume a "frail" of figs, eat turpentine and drink a cup of sour milk. Plutarch observed that "if they add any other rites, it is unknown to any but those that are present at them".[24]

Imperial Rome and Byzantium

Roman emperors were traditionally acclaimed by the senate or by a legion speaking for the armies as a whole, and were subsequently confirmed without any special ritual. The Eastern diadem was later introduced by Aurelian,[25] but did not truly become part of the imperator's regalia until the reign of Constantine.[3] Prior to this, Roman sovereigns wore the purple paludamentum, and sometimes a laurel wreath as emblems of their office.[3]

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;[3] 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]".[3]

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.[3][N 4] From the moment of his coronation, Byzantine emperor was regarded as holy; while the Patriarch was holding the crown over the emperor's head, the attending people repeatedly cried: Holy! [17]

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.[26][N 5] 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.[3]

Two prayers for the coronation of Byzantine emperors are found in the Byzantine Archieratikon (Slavonic: Chinovnik). The second of these prayers is proceeded by the diaconal command: "Bow your heads to the Lord" and the assembly’s response: "To you, O Lord." This pattern of two prayers corresponds to the ritual form found in the Byzantine liturgy for the ordinations of bishops, priests and deacons and also for major blessings, such as the Great Blessing of Waters on the Feast of the Theophany. In some texts, the first prayer is associated with the act of clothing the emperor in the chalamys and the second with the act of crowning him.[27] Although the Byzantine coronation ritual underwent various changes throughout the centuries, these two prayers are found consistently in every version. They also occur in the Russian ritual for the crowning of the Tsar, beginning with Ivan IV, and also in the ritual for the coronation of an emperor beginning with that of Catherine I.

In the modern era



The Asantehene, the ruler of the Ashanti of Ghana begins his reign by being raised and lowered over the Golden Stool (sika 'dwa), which is believed to embody the very soul of the Ashanti people, without touching it. The Golden Stool is the most sacred ritual object in Ashanti culture and only the Asantehene is allowed to touch it.

Central African Empire

The Central African Empire was a short-lived monarchical regime established in 1976 in what was then the Central African Republic, by Jean-Bedel Bokassa, the nation's president. Inspired by Napoleon's coronation in 1804, "Bokassa I" staged his own elaborate ritual inside a large outdoor stadium in Bangui, his capital, on 4 December 1977. While guests sweltered in the 100-degree heat, the self-proclaimed emperor ascended a giant golden throne shaped like an eagle with outstretched wings, donned a 32-pound coronation robe containing 785,000 pearls and 1,220,000 crystal beads, and then crowned himself with a gold crown topped by a 138-caret diamond that cost over $2,000,000 to manufacture. His empress, Catherine—the youngest of his three wives—was then invested with a smaller diadem. The total bill for Bokassa's regalia alone came to $5,000,000.[28][N 6]

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".[28]

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.[29] The monarchy was abolished, the emperor was exiled, and his empire reverted to its former name.


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.[30]

The ceremony, 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.[N 7] Following this, the king took his constitutional oath, and was acclaimed by the assembled legislators and guests.[30]

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.[31] Egypt is now a republic.[32]


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.[N 8]

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-encrusted 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".[N 8]

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.


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.[33]


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.[34] 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 feathered 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".[35]

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 accompaniment of the Omujaguza, the traditional Toro war-drum.[36]

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 virgin 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.[36]

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.[36]



Brazilian emperors, of which there were two (Pedro I and Pedro II), were crowned with the Imperial Crown of Brazil in a Catholic Coronation Mass. The constitution required the monarch to have reached their eighteenth birthday before the ceremony could take place. Brazil abolished its monarchy in 1889.


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.[37]


Mexico has twice been a monarchy ruled by emperors. Agustín I ruled from 1822 to 1823 after Mexico's independence from Spain; 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 in the manner of Napoleon I.[38] Agustin I was overthrown in March 1823, and the Mexican monarchy abolished.

Mexico's second monarch was Maximilian I, 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 and nobility, had instituted it). His consort was Charlotte of Belgium, or Empress Carlota of Mexico. The second Imperial Crown of Mexico and a matching 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. The Second Mexican Empire lasted for over three years. 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".[39] "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,[40] 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.[41] The pomp and pageantry of the modern event is comparable in some ways to monarchical coronations.[42]



Kings of Bhutan are enthroned in a special Buddhist ceremony that involves the offering of various ritual prayers by the new king, the royal family and other notables.[43] The king dons a special diadem known as the "Raven Crown", symbolic not merely of his own authority, but also of the raven-faced protector deity of Bhutan, Legoen Jarog Dongchen.[44][45] As in neighboring Nepal (prior to 2008), the precise date for the ritual is selected by court astrologers.[46]


The Sultanate of Brunei crowns its ruler. The last such coronation was held on 1 August 1968, for the present Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah in the Lapau, or ceremonial hall. Various items of royal regalia are exhibited at the Royal Regalia Building in the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan.[47]


The King of Cambodia is crowned in a ceremony that combines Brahmanic and Buddhist elements. The new monarch begins his coronation rite inside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh by placing two wreaths of jasmine atop a golden pillow. Then, bowing before the offerings, he lights a bundle of incense sticks and placed them around the table before taking a seat on the red-carpeted floor. Prayers are read, punctuated by the sound of conch-shell horns. The ruler then enters the Tevea Venichhay Temple, where he lights a stout candle encased in gold-gilded glass. This candle, which represents victory throughout the king’s reign, is left burning until the final day of the coronation festival. Nine Buddhist monks then shower the King with jasmine buds. Finally, the monarch makes his way to the throne, bowing three times to it before retreating to his private area of the palace.[48]

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.[49] 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.[48][50]

The last such ceremony was held in 2004 for the current monarch, Norodom Sihamoni. Unlike some previous Cambodian rulers, Sihamoni chose not to wear the crown during his coronation.[48]


Mohammad Reza Shah crowning his wife, Empress Farah at their coronation ceremony in 1967.

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.


The Japanese enthronement ceremony consists of three main parts. The first takes place immediately after the death of the preceding sovereign. The new emperor is given the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan: (1) a replica sword representing the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (lit. "Grasscutter Sword") (草薙劍)--the original being enshrined the in the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya; (2) the Yasakani no magatama (八尺瓊曲玉), a necklace of comma-shaped stone beads; and (3) a mirror, called Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡). Unlike most other monarchies, Japan has no crown for its ruler.

The second part of the ceremony is the enthronement ritual itself, held in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. The ritual is not public, and the regalia itself is generally seen only by the emperor himself and a few Shinto priests.

The Daijo-sai or the Great Thanksgiving Festival is the final inauguration rituals, involving sacred rice, sake, fish and a variety of other foods from both land and sea that are offered to the Sun-goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami. This ceremony effects a singular union with the goddess, thus making the new emperor (in Shinto tradition) the immediate intermediary between Amaterasu-ōmikami and the Japanese people.[51][52]


Coronation of Queen Maria and King John I of Jerusalem

The first two Kings of Jerusalem, Baldwin I and Baldwin II, were crowned in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Between 1131 and 1186, coronations were held in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, was the only king crowned in Jerusalem in the 13th century.[53]

The new monarch was dressed in the palace by the chamberlain. The chamberlain, who bore the royal sword, then headed procession to the Church in which the coronation ceremony took place. The chamberlain then handed the crown, sceptre and the rest of the regalia to the monarch. The coronation was followed by a feast for the noblemen who attended the ceremony.[53]

The regalia possessed by the Kings of Jerusalem, as well as coronation ceremony itself, were influenced by those of Byzantine emperors. The coronation of Baldwin I of Constantinople was notably similar to the coronation of the Kings and Queens of Jerusalem.[53]


A record of the 1724 coronation of Korean 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.[54] The Empire of Korea ended in 1910 with annexation by Japan, with the country subsequently splitting into a communist state (North) and republic (South) after the events of World War II.[citation needed]


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.[55] 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.[56]


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 proceeds 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 reverently 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.[57]


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.[58] At precisely the "right" moment, the royal priest placed a jewel-studded crown[N 9] 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.


Coronation of King Bhumibol at the Grand Palace, 5 May 1950.

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.[59]

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 from eighteen different sites in Thailand. The nine-tiered umbrella was then presented, followed by five other items of the royal regalia: the Great Crown of Victory, the Sword of Victory, the Royal Staff, 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.[60][61]

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.[60]

Eastern Europe


King Zog I, self-proclaimed monarch of Albania, was crowned in a ritual that took place on 1 September 1928. His coronation attire included rose-colored breeches, gold spurs, and a gold crown weighing seven and five-eighths pounds.[62] Europe's only Muslim king swore a required constitutional oath on the Bible and the Quran, symbolizing his desire to unify his country.[63] Zog was forced into exile by Italian invaders in 1939, and the monarchy was formally abolished in 1945.


The first crowned ruler of Bosnia was Stephen Tvrtko I. His coronation, held on 26 October 1377, created the Kingdom of Bosnia. It was traditionally held that Stephen Tvrtko I was crowned in the Mileševo monastery by its metropolitan bishop,[64] but it has been proposed that he was crowned in the monastery of Mile, where most Bosnian coronations were held, with crown sent by King Louis I of Hungary.[65][66]

The last coronation in Bosnia was held in Jajce in November 1461. Although all kings of Bosnia were at least formally Roman Catholic, only the last king, Stephen Tomašević, was crowned with the Pope's approval and with crown sent by Pope Pius II. The coronation was performed by papal legate.[66] The Kingdom of Bosnia ceased to exist when Stephen Tomašević was overthrown by Mehmed the Conqueror and executed in June 1463.


The rulers of the Second Bulgarian Empire were crowned in the same manner as Byzantine emperors, while the manner of coronation of the rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire remains unknown.[17]

While Bulgaria was a monarchy from its independence in 1878 until 1946, no modern Bulgarian king was ever crowned.[67]


Coronation of King Tomislav of Croatia. It is disputed whether the coronation actually took place.

According to legend, the first crowned monarch of Croatia was King Tomislav. He was allegedly crowned on the Plain of Duvno in 925.[68] However, it is disputed whether Tomislav was ever crowned; some sources identify Držislav as the first crowned King of Croatia, ignoring the legend of Tomislav's coronation.[24]

In 1102, upon the death of the last member of the House of Trpimirović, Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary. It was agreed that every King of Hungary would come to Croatia for a separate coronation as King of Croatia. This second coronation was required to soothe Croatian sensibilities, by demonstrating that Croatia remained an independent state. The last King of Croatia to be crowned in Croatia was King Andrew II of Hungary. His son and successor, King Bela IV of Hungary, refused to be crowned in Croatia in 1235, and the custom afterward died out.[17][64][68] Some scholars claim that Bela IV's father was never crowned as King of Croatia either. The issue remains unsettled, because there are no documents on either of Andrew II's supposed coronations.[68]

In 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was occupied and partitioned by the Axis powers. A puppet state, the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), was formed on a part of occupied Yugoslav territory and Aimone, 4th Duke of Aosta, was installed as King by fascist Italy. The Italians planned to have Aimone crowned as "Tomislav II" at the Field of Duvno, where King Tomislav was allegedly crowned. The coronation was never held, due to Italy taking Yugoslav coastal territory that was claimed by the NDH.[68]


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.


King Charles IV of Hungary taking his coronation oath

Rulers of Hungary were not considered legitimate monarchs until they were crowned King of Hungary with the Holy Crown of Hungary. As women were not considered fit to rule Hungary, the two queens regnant, Maria I and Maria II Theresa, were crowned kings of Hungary.[69] All Hungarian coronations took place at Székesfehérvár, the burial place of the first crowned ruler of Hungary, Saint Stephen I. The final such rite was held in Budapest on 30 December 1916, when Emperor Charles I of Austria and Empress Zita were crowned as King Charles IV and Queen Zita of Hungary. The Hungarian monarchy perished with the end of World War I, although the nation 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".


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 Joachim Bielski in the sixteenth century: osoba umiera, korona nie umiera (the royal person dies, the crown dies not).[70]


Coronation of King Carol I of Romania

Romania used a coronation ceremony during its monarchial period (1881–1947). Its crown was rather unique, being made of steel rather than gold or some other precious metal. In 1922, King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie were crowned on the public square in Alba Iulia, an important city in the new Romanian province of Transylvania. The coronation service was interdenominational rather than Romanian Orthodox (the majority religion and then the state church), in part because Ferdinand was Roman Catholic, while his wife was Anglican at the time. 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, which included an ongoing affair with Magda Lupescu. Upon his abdication, his son, Michael I, was crowned and anointed on 6 September 1940 at the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest by Patriarch Nicodim Munteanu.[71]

Coronation of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in 1896


Following the tradition of the Byzantine Emperors, the Tsar of Russia placed the crown upon his own head. This left no doubt that, in the Russian system, the imperial power 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.

A few days prior to the crowning service itself, the Tsar made a processional entry into Moscow, where coronations were always held (even when the capital was in St. Petersburg. Following this, the Imperial regalia were brought from the Kremlin armory into the Tsar's Kremlin palace, where they would accompany the new emperor on his procession to the Dormition Cathedral on the morning of his coronation. This procession commenced at the Red Porch and ended at the church doors, where the presiding prelate and other bishops blessed the Tsar and his consort with holy water and offered them the Holy Cross to kiss.[72]

After the Tsar entered the cathedral, he and his spouse venerated the icons there and took their places on two thrones set up in the center of the cathedral. After the sovereign had recited the Nicene Creed as his profession of faith, and after an invocation of the Holy Ghost and a litany, the emperor assumed the purple chlamys, and the crown was then presented to him. He took it and placed it on his head himself, while the Metropolitan recited:

"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."[3]

Following this, the new Tsar crowned his consort, first briefly with his own crown (by touching it momentarily to her head before putting it back on his own), then with a smaller crown of her own. Further prayers and litanies were read, then the Emperor was anointed just prior to reception of Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy. He was invited to enter the altar area through the Royal Doors (normally reserved solely to the clergy) and partake of Communion as a priest would, in both kinds. Further prayers and blessings concluded the service, which was followed by a special feast held in the Kremlin's Palace of Facets.[72]

Russia's last coronation was in 1896, for Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra. The last occasion on which the Great Imperial Crown was officially used was the State Opening of the Duma in 1906.[73]


King Peter I of Serbia immediately after his coronation

The first crowned King of Serbia, Stephen Nemanjić, was crowned twice. In 1217, he was crowned in a Roman Catholic ceremony by papal legate with crown sent by the Pope. However, Stephen and the Serbian people were Eastern Orthodox, so he appealed to the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Patriarch elevated Stephan's brother Sava to the rank of archbishop of Eastern Orthodox Church and authorized Stephan's second coronation, performed by Sava himself in 1222.[74] His successors were also crowned kings at the monastery of Žiča.[64] Stephen Uroš IV Dušan had himself and his wife crowned emperor and empress by patriarchs of Bulgaria and Serbia, as he was aware that the Patriarch of Constantinople wouldn't bestow the imperial title upon ruler of a Balkan country. Nevertheless, the coronation ceremony was an elaborate replica of Byzantine coronation.[64]

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.[75][76] Serbia became a part of the state of Yugoslavia after World War I, but Peter did not hold a second coronation and neither of his two successors, Alexander and Peter II, were crowned.

Western Europe


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.

Habsburg emperors of Austria were crowned as Kings of Hungary during their rule over that country.


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.[77]


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.


Coronation of King Albert II of Germany as King of Bohemia

During Middle Ages, it was held that enthronement would make a person Duke of Bohemia and that only coronation would make a person King of Bohemia.[78] St. Vitus Cathedral was the coronation church.[79] Monarchs of Bohemia were crowned with the Crown of Saint Wenceslas and invested with royal insignia, among which a cap or miter and a lance (symbols of Saint Wenceslas) were specific for Bohemian coronations.[17]

Vratislaus II of Bohemia was the first crowned ruler of Bohemia. Maria Theresa, the only female monarch of Bohemia, was crowned king in order to emphasize that she was the monarch and not consort. The last King of Bohemia to be crowned as such was Emperor Ferdinand of Austria.[80]

The Abbess of the St. George's Abbey had the privilege to crown the wife of the King of Bohemia.[81][82][83] In 1791, the right to crown the Queen of Bohemia was transferred to the Abbess of the Damenstift (a post always filled by an Archduchess of Austria).[84][85] The coronation of the Queen of Bohemia was the only instance where Christian coronation was performed by a woman. In fact, this was the only instance where a woman was allowed to perform full episcopal function.[86]


Coronation of Christian VIII of Denmark, from a contemporary engraving, 1840.

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.[87]

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 Christiansborg Palace, with the new sovereign being acclaimed by her Prime Minister at the time (1972), Jens Otto Krag, then cheered with a ninefold "hurrah" by the crowds below.


Coronation of Louis VIII of France and Blanche of Castile at Reims in 1223; a miniature from the Grandes Chroniques de France, circa 1450.

A coronation following the Byzantine formula was instigated in France with the crowning of King Clovis I of the Franks at Rheims in 497 A.D. The French coronation ritual was similar to that used in England. The last royal coronation was that of Charles X, in 1824. Heirs to the French throne were also sometimes crowned during their predecessors' reigns during the Middle Ages, but this was discontinued as laws of primogeniture became stronger.

During the First French Empire, Emperor Napoleon I and Empress Josephine were crowned in December 1804 in an extremely elaborate ritual presided over by Pope Pius VII and conducted at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Napoleon III chose not to be crowned. The French republican government broke up and sold off most of the Crown Jewels, in hopes of avoiding any public sentiment for a restoration of the monarchy after the collapse of the Second French Empire in 1871.

Holy Roman Empire

The coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III.

Holy Roman Emperors were crowned by the pope until Charles V became the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned by the Pope at Bologna, in 1530. Thereafter, until the abolition of the empire in 1806, Imperial coronations were held in Frankfurt and were performed by the Spiritual Princes-Electors,the Archbishops of Cologne,Mainz and Trier .[N 10] Later rulers simply proclaimed themselves Electus Romanorum Imperator or "Elected Emperor of the Romans", without the formality of a coronation by the Pontiff.

Coronations were held in Rome (under the pope), Milan (the Kingdom of Italy), Arles (Burgundy) and Aix-la-Chapelle (Germany). Although the Roman ceremony was initially the most important, it was eventually eclipsed by the German ritual. 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.[2]


The medieval Monarchs of the Kingdom of the Lombards and Kingdom of Italy were crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, usually at Pavia or Milan. From the 9th to the 18th century, the Kings of Italy were also the Holy Roman Emperors, so many of them were crowned in Germany, with the Iron Crown in Pavia, and then by the Pope in Rome. The last coronation with the Iron Crown was Napoleon I's in 1805. The modern Kingdom of Italy, which existed from 1861 to 1946, did not crown its monarchs.[4]


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.


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.


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 investiture ceremony, consisting of a festive mass in the Cathedral of Monaco, followed by a reception where the new ruler meets his subjects.[88]


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.


King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway wearing their coronation crowns and robes in 1906.

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.[87]

While the Norwegian constitution of 1814 required the King of Norway to be crowned in Trondheim, this mandate was repealed in 1908. Thereafter, the ruler has only been required to take his formal accession oath in the Council of State and thereafter in the Parliament, the Storting. King Olav V, desiring a religious ceremony to mark his ascession to the throne in 1957, instituted a ceremony of royal consecration, known as Signing til kongsgjerning. This ritual took place again in 1991, when King Harald V and Queen Sonja were similarly consecrated.


In 1646, immediately after his Coronation, 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.[89] The Portuguese monarchy was abolished in 1910.

John IV's Coronation followed a pattern similar to the Coronation of the Kings of France and pre-reformation England, as laid out in the Roman Pontifical. The Spanish Hapsburg monarchs that preceded John IV as Kings of Portugal were also not crowned; during the Iberian Union, the Spanish practice of not having a coronation ceremony was extended to Portugal.

Before the assumption of the Portuguese Throne by the Spanish Hapsburgs, Kings of Portugal used to be anointed and crowned in the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, in a manner similar to the Coronation of John IV.


Coronation of King William I of Prussia

William I was crowned in 1861 as King of Prussia, prior to the establishment of the German Empire (1871). He was crowned with great pomp, becoming the first king to be crowned in Prussia since the coronation of King Frederick I of Prussia in 1701, although a significant number of politicians opposed the idea. William I took the crown with his own hands from the altar and crowned himself, while saying that he was receiving the crown from God's hands. These words were intended as a warning to Prussian Constitutionalists and Liberals.[90]

The King of Prussia was also ruler of Imperial Germany from 1871 to 1918. Although a design and model for a German State Crown were made, no final diadem was ever produced, and none of three German emperors were ever formally crowned.


Coronation of King Alexander III of Scotland on Moot Hill, Scone. He is being greeted by the ollamh rígh, the royal poet.
This section describes coronations held in Scotland prior to its unification with England. For coronations after that time, see below under "United Kingdom".

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.[91] 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 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.[92] Scottish rulers did not necessarily have to wait for any certain age to be crowned: Mary I 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. After the unification with England, the Scottish coronation rite was subsumed into the British.

Sicily and Naples

The exact coronation customs of the Kings and Queens of Sicily are disputed. According to a Cassino manuscript of c. 1200, the coronation of the Kings of Sicily was based on a German model, though variations were made to adapt it to Sicilian tradition.

Several different parts were included in the coronation ceremony. First, the new monarch was asked whether he wished to be the defender of the Church and a just ruler of his kingdom. After that, the people were asked whether they wish to submit themselves to the person who was to be crowned. The king or queen were then anointed on their hands, head, chest and both shoulders. The monarch was then girded with sword and vested with armillas, pallium, and ring. The sceptre was put in their right hand and the orb in their left hand. Finally, the presiding archbishop placed the crown on the monarch's head.[93]

The Kings and Queens of Naples were crowned in the City of Naples.[94] The Pope was the only person entitled to crown the monarch of Naples.[95]


No monarch of Spain has been crowned as such 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 Castilian coronations were performed at Toledo, or in the Church of St Jerome at Madrid, with the king being anointed by the archbishop of Toledo.[79] The monarch assumed the royal sword, sceptre, crown of gold and the apple of gold, after receiving his anointing.[96] Aragonese coronations were performed at Zaragoza by the Archbishop of Tarragona.[93]


Coronation of King Gustav III of Sweden

In Sweden, no king has been crowned since Oscar II in 1873. The current monarch, Carl XVI Gustaf, was enthroned in a simple 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 Gustaf made an accession speech, which comprised the main purpose of the undertaking.[87]

Previously, Swedish kings were crowned at Storkyrkan in 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 herald of the realm proclaimed: "Now is crowned king of the Swedes, Goths and Wends, he and no other".[4][96] 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. Prior to Sweden's change into a hereditary monarchy, the focus of the coronation rite was on legitimising an elected king.[97]

United Kingdom

Coronation of Queen Victoria

The coronation ceremony 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 affirmatively, 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.[N 11] [N 12]

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.[99]

The ceremony as conducted in 1953 also functioned as the coronation rite for the realms within the Commonwealth which recognise Elizabeth II as their monarch, by the text of the administered oath including the seven separate Commonwealth kingdoms in existence as the time, as well as a general statement regarding other territories.[N 13]

The Prince of Wales, a title traditionally held by the heir to the British throne, may go through a ceremony of his own known as the Investiture of the Prince of Wales, though such a ritual is not required to hold this title or the privileges that come with it. The ceremony, when held, may take place in Wales or in England (the most recent investure took place at Caernarvon Castle, Wales), and includes the placement of a coronet upon the prince's head.

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 Basilica 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 a coronation, any future pope can, in theory, opt for the coronation ritual.



The Kingdom of Hawaii held a coronation ritual for King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani in February 1883, nine years after his accession. Prior to this, the two monarchs were inaugurated at Kawaiahao Church, where the feather Cloak of Kamehameha was placed upon their shoulders. Two golden crowns were manufactured in England for Kalakaua's subsequent crowning ceremony, and a large pavilion was erected in front of the newly-completed Iolani Palace, into which the royals proceeded accompanied by bearers carrying the kahili, the ancient symbols of Hawaiian royalty. Given the diadem by a Reverend McIntosh, Kalakaua crowned himself, since no one was deemed sacred enough to crown an alii. He then crowned his queen. When the crown was unable to sit on Kapiolani's hair, it was forced on, bringing the queen to tears. Kalakaua's sister Liliuokalani reported that at the moment of his crowning, the sun was obscured by a cloud which gave way to reveal a single bright star. Since this incident occurred during daylight, it caused a sensation among the assembled witnesses.[100]

Liliuokalani, who succeeded Kalakua in 1891, did not have a coronation prior to her overthrow in 1893 and the abolition of the Hawaiian monarchy.


Tahiti was ruled by native kings (and one queen) of the Pomare dynasty from 1788 to 1880, when the last monarch, Pomare V, ceded his country to France. Details from the coronation ritual of Pomare II, second King of Tahiti (1791), have been preserved. The rite centered upon the maro ura, a sacred girdle symbolizing Pomare's status and power, composed of yellow and red feathers, five yards long by fifteen inches wide. Black feathers bordered the garment's top and bottom. This robe also contained the auburn hair of Richard Skinner, one of the mutineers from the H.M.S. Bounty who had elected to stay in Tahiti when Fletcher Christian set out for Pitcairn Island. As the ship's barber, Skinner commanded special prestige among Tahitians, who valued his red hair and wove some of it into their maro ura. Also incorporated into the girdle was a red British pennant, which Samuel Wallis of the H.M.S. Dolphin had raised on Tahiti when he took possession of it for the British crown in 1767. The Tahitians had torn down this flag, and woven it into their royal robe as a symbol of their own sovereignty over their island.[101]

To receive this cloak, Pomare went to his sacred marae, donned the cloak, then took the left eyes of certain sacrificial victims and acted as if he were going to eat them. He also listened to the cries of sacred birds and to a volley of musketry fired in his honor by certain Bounty mutineers who were on the scene. Following this, the new king was treated to a dance, with Tahitian men pretending to cover him with excrement and semen as a kind of honor.[102]

By 1824, when Pomare's son Pomare III was crowned, the Tahitian coronation ritual had changed significantly, under the influence of foreign Christian missionaries. This time, a European-style rite was enacted, with the new king escorted to the Royal Chapel in Papeete behind a procession of flower-strewing girls accompanied by governors, judges and other civil servants. After being anointed and crowned, Pomare was given a Bible and had a sermon preached to him. The festivities concluded with the proclamation of an amnesty and a coronation banquet.[102]


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.[103][104][105] 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.[106]

Other uses

The term "coronation" is sometimes used in a semi-ironic sense to refer to uncontested party leadership elections, with all potential party leaders choosing to back a single candidate or to stay silent, rather than stand in an election they are likely to lose.[citation needed] This typically happens where there has been a protracted behind-the-scenes attempt to remove the outgoing leader, leading to a significant amount of time to determine who has the most party support before the election proper.[citation needed]

See also


This section contains expansions on the main text of the article, as well as links provided for context that may not meet Wikipedia standards for reliable sources, due largely to being self-published.

  1. ^ Christian references include I Peter 2:13,17 and Romans 13:1-7. Information on the Islamic viewpoint may be found at Islamic Monarchy, from the Science Encyclopedia website. A Hindu perspective on this subject may be explored at the website; Why is it Said that Only a Brahman is Capable of Creating an Ideal King?. Retrieved on 10 September 2008.
  2. ^ English: The [old] king is dead; long live the [new] King!
  3. ^ An account of this service, written by Count Miklos Banffy, a witness, may be read at The Last Habsburg Coronation: Budapest, 1916. From Theodore's Royalty and Monarchy Website.
  4. ^ Kapparis, Konstantinos. "The Byzantine Coronation Ceremony, according to Emperor Constantine VII, Porphyrogennetos" (PDFdoc). University of Florida. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  5. ^ See also Tacitus, Ann., XV, 29.
  6. ^ Several photos of Bokassa's coronation may be seen at Central African Empire: Emperor Bokassa. From website. Retrieved on 5 September 2008.
  7. ^ A photo of King Farouk taken during this ceremony can be seen at "What European papers said"; Al Ahram Weekly Website
  8. ^ a b Background information on the coronation may be found at the website, Coronation of HIM Haile Selassie I. Retrieved on 24 August 2008.
  9. ^ A photo of the last Nepalese king, Gyanendra, in coronation regalia may be seen at Cross-Cultural Studies: Ethnographic Performances in Nepal (May 2004).
  10. ^ See also Guy Stair Sainty, The Holy Roman Empire: Introduction. From the Almanach de la Cour website. Retrieved on 14 September 2008.
  11. ^ This applies to female consorts only. If the new monarch is a female, her husband (if any) is not crowned.
  12. ^ For example, Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England with St. Edward's crown (which had previously been used to crown only a reigning monarch)[98] because Anne's pregnancy was visible by then and she was carrying the heir who was presumed to be male. Thus, Anne's coronation did not only legitimise her right to enjoy the title and prerogatives of Queen of England, but also her unborn child's right to be crowned as monarch with St. Edward's Crown one day. Compare with coronation of an Heir Apparent, discussed above, though in this case the child was not itself explicitly crowned.
  13. ^ The text of the oath is as follows: "Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?"[99]


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External links



1911 encyclopedia

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Simple English

A coronation is a ceremony that gives a monarch regal or royal power. The power is symbolized by putting a crown upon his or her head. We say that the king or queen is "crowned" at the coronation.

The ritual may have a religious meaning. Coronations are not as common now as in the past, although in some countries such as Great Britain it is still normal to hold the ceremony to install a new king or queen.

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