The Dean of Westminster will instruct the Sovereign and his Consort in all matters relating to the ceremony. He will also assist during the ceremony itself, with the anointing and in passing the regalia to the Archbishop.
In the weeks leading up to the Coronation, a raised theatre will be constructed in the Abbey Lantern, an annexe at the west door (used for the marshalling of processions) and a number of galleries for the congregation.
In 1953 the Abbey was closed for five months prior to the Coronation in order to prepare it for the arrival of the 8,251 guests.
The Night Before
The Regalia is brought to Westminster Abbey from the Tower of London and kept overnight in the Jerusalem Chamber. It will be guarded by Yeoman Warders.
The Morning of the Ceremony
The clergy of the Abbey will move the Regalia, in procession, through the cloisters and into the Church where it will be placed on the High Altar, except for the Imperial State Crown, which will be placed on the altar in the St Edward’s Chapel.
On the Day
- The King and Queen Consort will proceed from Buckingham Palace in the Gold Coach to Westminster Abbey
- They will process from the west end of the Abbey, through the nave and choir to the Theatre, accompanied by verses from Psalm 122, sung by the Cathedral choir
- The King will be presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the people; the attendees in the Cathedral will respond ‘God Save the King’
- The King will swear an oath to uphold the law and the faith, to govern faithfully with justice and mercy
- The Archbishop may at this stage present the monarch with a Bible, with the words ‘ To keep your Majesty ever mindful of the Law and Gospel of God as the rule for the whole life and government of Christian princes’.
- The Communion service now proceeds; the choir sings Veni, Creator Spriritus (an ancient hymn to invoke the Holy Spirit)
- The King’s crimson robe is removed and he is seated in the Coronation Chair (which will be facing the altar); four Knights of the Garter will hold a canopy over the Chair; out of public view the Archbishop will anoint the King with holy oil on his hands, breast and head while the choir sings Zadok The Priest (which has been sung at every coronation since 973)
- The King is dressed in gold robes and returns to the Coronation Chair where he is invested with the regalia (some of which will be returned to the altar)
- The Archbishop receives St Edward’s Crown from the Dean and places it on the head of the King; trumpet fanfares are sounded and the congregation acclaim the sovereign
- The King moves from the Coronation Chair to the Throne in the main part of the Theatre
- The King receives homage of the people, firstly by the Lords Spiritual then the Lords Temporal, during which time hymns are sung; once the homage is completed, fanfares are sounded
- The Queen Consort is now anointed with holy oil and crowned Queen
- The King and Queen will now receive Holy Communion, Gloria in Excelsis is sung by the choir and the Archbishop gives the Blessing
- As the choir sings Te Deum, the King and Queen will withdraw to St Edward’s Chapel and don purple robes. The King will exchange the St Edward’s Crown for the Imperial State Crown
- Carrying the Sceptre and the Orb, the King now processes through the Abbey to the Annexe at the west end
- The King and Queen will then return to Buckingham Palace in the Gold Coach
- Appearance on Buckingham Palace balcony
Image, top: Queen Elizabeth I carried from her Coronation in a horse-borne litter, 15 January 1559