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Essential oils and a secret code name: Things you didn't know about the coronation


King Charles III’s coronation will be held on May 6 at London’s Westminster Abbey.

The British coronation ceremony, during which the sovereign is crowned as the reigning monarch, is an occasion for pomp and circumstance.

But it is also a solemn religious ceremony and one that has stayed basically unchanged for more than thousand years.

Here are some little-known facts about the ceremony:

1. Westminster Abbey has held every coronation since 1066.

Before the Abbey, they would be held at whichever location was most convenient, including Bath, Oxford and Canterbury. However the religious ceremony has remained largely unchanged for more than 1,000 years.

2. King Charles will be the 40th sovereign crowned at Westminster Abbey.

The coronation does not mark the moment a new monarch is anointed. There is never a moment when there is no monarch. In fact, upon a king or queen’s death, their heir immediately becomes the new succeeding monarch.

The Accession Council meets within days at St. James’ Palace to legally confirm the new monarch. Public proclamations are made in various locations across the country. This would have been the way the news about a monarch was spread in centuries past.

3. More than 2,000 guests will be invited to the coronation, a total slightly under the capacity of Westminster Abbey. This is in contrast to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, which had four times the amount, who were accommodated in special seating.

4. The coronation, which will be funded by the U.K. government, is expected to be less extravagant than in the past. The Queen’s coronation is estimated to have cost £1.57 million (CAD$2.63 million) in 1953, the equivalent of £46 million (CAD $77.13 million) today.

5. Planning for the King’s coronation had been underway for years under the secret code name Operation Golden Orb. As part of the ceremony, the King will be invested with the regalia of the sovereign’s gold orb and jewel-encrusted sceptres.

6. The coronation emblem incorporates the flora of the four nations of the United Kingdom. The flora includes the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales and the shamrock of Northern Ireland. Together the images make up the shape of St. Edward’s Crown.

7. The coronation ceremony includes the anointing of the new monarch. The anointing oil has been perfumed with the essential oils of sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, benzoin and amber and orange blossom.

The formula for the oil, which is based on the oil used at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, has been used for hundreds of years. The Queen Consort will also be anointed with the same oil.

The oil, consecrated in Jerusalem, was produced from olives that grew from groves on the Mount of Olives, at the Monastery of the Ascension and the Monastery of Mary Magdalene, the burial place of Charles' grandmother Princess Alice of Greece.

8. Then-Prince Charles was invited to his mother’s coronation with his own specially illustrated children’s invitation.

He was the first child to see his mother’s coronation as Sovereign. Princess Anne was too young and did not attend. It’s unclear if all of his grandchildren will attend the coronation; however, it's confirmed that Prince George will be there.

9. The King will be wearing St. Edward's Crown.

The crown weighs 4 pounds and 12 ounces and is made of solid gold. Historically used at the moment of coronation, the crown was quietly removed from the Tower of London in December to be resized for the King in time for his coronation. It was initially made for Charles II’s coronation to replace the medieval crown parliamentarians melted in 1649 after King Charles I was executed.

The crown jewels are kept at the Tower of London in the Jewel House under armed guard. They’re held in trust by the king and queen for the nation and passed on to the next monarch upon their accession.

10. The coronation oath is the only aspect of the ceremony that’s mandated by law. In the oath, the monarch will pledge to govern the peoples of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms. However, the oath’s wording has evolved over the years to reflect territorial changes and the King’s oath may be different than his mother’s.

11. Coronation Chicken, now a well-known filling for sandwiches, was invented for foreign guests attending the Queen’s ceremony. Florist Constance Spry is credited with coming up with the recipe for the cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a dressed salad of rice, green peas, and mixed herbs and since become known as Coronation Chicken. Top Stories

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