In addition to our ongoing research project at King’s College London, we are delighted to have helped create the British Coronation Project 2023 for the Coronation of Charles III – a learning journey for children across the UK. Bringing together, for school children, historical expertise and artistic flare, this project provides a comprehensive and exciting learning experience. In addition to the structured lessons, supported by a wealth of historical information, students will have the opportunity to take part in a quiz that will form the basis of our detailed research into what children think about such momentous events – the first such exercise in studying the impact of Coronations.
The Coronation ceremony is obviously important for the person being crowned, and for the monarchy as an institution, but it is also important for the nation generally and for those across the world for whom Charles III is a new Head of State. Coronations have traditionally been rare opportunities for connecting Crown, Church, governments and peoples. What goes in them is a litmus test of values and aspirations. Solemn commitments are made. Yet our research shows that importance lies in more than simply the events happening inside Westminster Abbey: the myriad meetings, processions and festivities surrounding Coronations, as well as the works constitutive of the material culture of commemoration, are hugely significant politically, socially, economically and artistically.
The coronation promises to be one of the most viewed events of all time. It may also be the shortest coronation in British history – with homage/fealty likely to be removed and the presentation of various elements of the regalia also abandoned to cut time. The seating and dress of the audience are likely to reflect the contemporary world, rather than the embroidered coronation chairs and the ermine coronation robes of the peerage of former times. The service is also likely to reflect the multi-faith nature of the UK – with representatives from different denominations present and possibly participating in the service. For the first time in coronation history, the anointing of the monarch, the most holy/sacral element may be televised to the world.
Dr David J. Crankshaw & Dr George Gross