King Charles III is set to adorn heavy, shimmering golden robes worn by his ancestors during his historic coronation ceremony on Saturday, embodying divine elements of kingship.
As a nod to the British monarchy’s principle to reuse and recycle, an admirable gesture given widespread poverty throughout the UK, several of these items were previously worn by his grandfather King George VI, 63 years old, during his 1937 coronation and his great-grandfather King George V, 64 years old, in 1911.
While certain historic “vestments” are traditionally worn, Buckingham Palace revealed that the king has opted to utilise other pieces from prior coronations to promote sustainability and efficiency. Caroline de Guitaut, deputy surveyor of the king’s works of art for the Royal Collection Trust, attributed this decision to King Charles III, who expressed reverence for his grandfather’s coronation. The vestments are typically kept among the coronation regalia at the Tower of London.
It remains to be seen whether the king will wear military uniform underneath the robe during his arrival at London’s Westminster Abbey. On arrival, King Charles will don King George VI’s crimson velvet Robe of State. Ede and Ravenscroft have carefully preserved the lining and lace in preparation for the coronation. This historic tailor has crafted garments for every coronation since King William III and Queen Mary II’s 1689 ceremony.
During the anointment with holy oil, the sovereign will wear a simple white linen shirt. He will then put on the Colombium Sindonis (Latin for shroud tunic) after the anointing, a plain-collared, sleeveless white linen tunic worn by King George VI. Following this, the glittering and full-length gold silk Supertunica will be worn, echoing the traditional style of priestly garments. The striking piece, which weighs approximately two kilograms, was previously donned by King George V, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Additionally, King Charles III will wear the embellished gold silk Coronation sword belt with national emblems, dating back to 1937. The Stole Royal, a long and narrow gold silk band, will be placed around his shoulders atop the Supertunica. The Imperial Mantle, comprising the floor-length Robe Royal and the 7-kilogramme Supertunica, will be draped over them. This opulent cloak, crafted for the coronation of King George IV in 1821, remains the oldest vestment to be used during Saturday’s event.
King Charles’s eldest son and heir to the throne, Prince William, will assist his father in wearing the robe. Lastly, the monarch will wear the white leather Coronation Glove, originating from King George VI’s reign, with national emblems like roses, shamrocks, and thistles embroidered on the cuff. King Charles III will leave the abbey wearing his grandfather’s gold-embroidered, purple silk velvet Robe of Estate, showcasing the elegance and grandeur of the British monarchy.
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