British Coronation Garments

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, 1953. Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, 1953.

During their coronation, British monarchs are dressed in a series of specific garments. The order in which the garments are worn during the ceremonies is based on the Liber Regalis, a fourteenth-century illuminated manuscript. The appearance of the garments has changed little since the seventeenth century. The following description of the garments is based on the investiture of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

The Queen entered Westminster Abbey (London) wearing the Coronation Dress and Robe of State (also called Parliament Robe), diadem and coronation necklace. What followed were the six principal stages of the ceremony, involving several sets of clothing.

  1. The Recognition and Oath: the people acclaimed their new sovereign, then the Queen pledged to serve the people.
  2. The Anointing: the act of consecration, during which the sovereign was anointed with oil on the hands, chest and head. The monarch was divested of all symbols of status (Robe of State, diadem and necklace). In the case of the Queen, she was then dressed in a simple, white pleated dress (Colobium Sindonis, symbolising humility). During the Anointing the Queen was seated underneath the Anointing Canopy.
  3. The Investiture: during this part of the ceremony the Queen was presented with various symbols of sovereignty, including the gold spurs (representing chivalry), a jewelled sword, and the golden bracelets of sincerity and wisdom. She was then dressed in the Supertunica (the Robe Royal), the Stole Royal and the Imperial Mantle. Next came the receiving of the Orb, the Coronation Ring, the Coronation Glove and the two sceptres, one for each hand. This stage culminated in the Crowning.
  4. The Acclamation: all present shouted ‘God Save the Queen’, cannons were fired, bells were rung, etc. Once invested the Queen was enthroned on her throne chair by the Archbishop.
  5. The Homage: the Church and peerage pledged their loyalty to the new monarch.
  6. Communion: the final part of the Coronation service was the Communion, during which the Queen made her Oblation – an offering to the Archbishop of Canterbury of an altar cloth and a gold ingot of 500 gm contained in an embroidered velvet bag.

During the singing of the Te Deum, the Queen proceeded to St. Edward’s Chapel, where she was disrobed of the Imperial Mantle, the Colobium Sindonis, the Supertunica and St. Edward’s Crown. She was then dressed in the elaborately embroidered Robe of Estate (the Coronation Robe) (not to be confused with the Robe of State worn at the start of the ceremonies) and the Imperial State Crown. She left the chapel and then processed out of the Abbey.

Instead of the Coronation Dress, it was normal for kings to wear a crimson surcoat or military uniform when they entered the Abbey, and a purple surcoat or a uniform when they processed out of the Abbey. It is usual for most of the coronation robes to be newly made for each monarch, but certain items, such as the Supertunica and the Stole Royal worn by Elizabeth II, were also worn at earlier coronations.


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 26 June 2016).


Last modified on Sunday, 30 April 2017 10:55