The Five Symbolic Objects Used in British Royal Ceremonies


| LAST UPDATE 09/21/2022

By Daria Appleby
British Key Objects Symbolism
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Within the British royal culture, "ceremony is sacred." After many generations of monarchy, objects have become crucial aspects of ceremonies that "have become imbued with symbolism over the centuries." From coronations to royal funerals, there is more history than meets the eye during these events.

The oldest coronation piece, "regalia," is the coronation spoon derived from the 12th century. It is used when a new monarch is anointed using "holy oil." However, the dark history behind the spoon resonates with the temporary termination of the monarchy during the English Civil Wars. When King Charles I was beheaded, the regalia was melted in return for coins and gems to sell. The spoon was "spared" and returned to Charles II when they crowned him King. In 1820, Georgia VI added a rose, thistle, and shamrock to The Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross. In 1910, he further added the 530.2 carat Cullinan I Diamond. The Sceptre represents the "longstanding tradition of a staff as a symbol of office."

Coronation Spoon British Symbols
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In 1661, the Sovereign's Orb was designed and "commissioned for the coronation of Charles II." It is topped with the Christian symbol, the cross, and has a "band of jewels" divided into three sections. This represents the three continents derived from the medieval era. However, the orb represents the sovereign's power and was displayed on top of Queen Elizabeth II's coffin. During coronations, the Archbishop of Canterbury places the orb in the right hand, as a reminder "that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer." St. Edwards Crown was made for Charles II as a replacement crown. It was originally worn by Edward the Confessor and was considered "a holy relic after his canonization in 1161." However, it was damaged in 1671 when parliamentarian Thomas Blood flattened it in an attempt of theft. Now, it is used for coronations, otherwise, it is on display in the Tower of London. While that crown was fit for a King, The Imperial State Crown is the epitome of the monarchy. It denotes the idea "that nobody has authority over you except God." The 2,868 diamond headpiece was designed in 1937 for King George VI's coronation, while the 650 diamond orb and cross was part of Queen Victoria's State Crown of 1836. It was displayed prominently on top of Queen Elizabeth II's coffin as a prime symbol of her reign.

While we can observe these crowns and spheres as diamonds and emeralds, there is far more history behind the objects than we see at face value. The British monarchy has centuries of historical events behind it. So, it is crucial to acknowledge, understand, and respect the objects that represent this.

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